Thursday, May 24, 2007
Flash On Location
Whether a flash is used as a key, fill, background or hair light, the results are immediately viewable on the camera's LCD. If you think the output of any individual flash or group of flashes is too low or high, fine-tuning output is literarily at your fingertips.
“When I'm shooting a corporate portrait, it seems to be that the more important the person, the less time they want to spend sitting for a photograph,” says Davis. “They want to be able to walk in, take the picture and go.”
By using portable strobes, Davis not only can quickly raise and strike a lighting setup, but he can have another lighting arrangement in another part of the room.
“Sometimes, I'll bring four strobes and have a second lighting setup ready,” he adds. “Now, if I had to do that with traditional lights, I'd have to rent more packs and lights and cables. It would be a lot of gear to have to lug in.”
Creative Lighting Under Pressure
For a recent shoot for a regional magazine, Davis was commissioned to create a series of photographs for a medical facility. Because he was required to photograph the five doctors in the company, he knew that he'd have access to them for a limited amount of time. The challenge was intensified because the assignment required as many as five different setups.
“They wanted some shots in the operating room and they wanted a variety of group shots of the doctors,” recalls Davis. “We had to capture several scenarios quickly. If I was carrying around a typical setup, I would have been carrying around cords, stands and umbrellas.”
Davis also wanted to elevate the images from the standard sterile look. For images of the doctors at work in the lab, he used gels and the built-in zoom head for creative effect.
“I gelled the lights—a purple gel on one and a yellow on another,” he says.
Because of the TTL metering system, Davis didn't have to be concerned with compensating for exposure variation as a result of using the gels because all of that was handled automatically.
Adds Davis, “I also controlled the coverage of the light by manually adjusting the zoom head to narrow the beam of light to focus right on my subject.
“I completed five setups in about an hour and a half,” he continues. “Otherwise, it would have taken at least two-and-a-half to three hours because the bigger equipment would have involved much more time. With each new setup, you'd have to set up the equipment, take a light meter reading, make adjustments and then bring in your subjects. With the little strobes on light stands, I was able to move quickly.”
Digital photography, combined with today's flash systems, is increasing what's creatively possible when you're working on location. An accurate and repeatable result, along with the capability to fine-tune to your personal preferences, makes current flash technology one of the best photographic tools that easily fits in a camera bag.
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