|Shot with a Paul C. Buff Einstein 640 with a large softbox at about 1/4 power from the right side of the frame|
The word Photography can be broken down into 2 parts; Photo, meaning light and graph meaning to write. So basically, Photography is the process of writing with light and that's exactly what you are doing. Your ability to see visible light, funnel it through a lens, and record an image to a medium is what photography is all about. In its most simplest form, all you need is a box with a small hole in it. That tiny hole will project the view in front of that box upside down on the opposite inner wall. If you place a light sensitive medium on that back wall, you can record that projection.
Most beginner photog will either refuse or misuse flash and thereby call themselves a "natural light" photog. What they really mean is that they don't have a flash, can't work monolights, and can only manage the pop-up flash on their cameras. So they stick to ambient light, which is sometimes call available or natural light. Ambient light is the light that is already present, no matter how strong or direct it is. This may be window light, interior light, or sunlight outdoors. Amateurs tend to believe that you don't need flash when you are outdoors and this is because they don't understand the nature of fill flash.
|Shot using off-camera Canon 580EX II Speedlite very low power blended with |
available sunlight just to add some fill in the face and to bring out color in dress
So here's the thing. There is no way I can go into great detail about light in just a few paragraphs on this blog. The intent is not to leave you with full on flash knowledge, but rather encourage you to not fear the light, to get you in the right gear, and send you in the right direction to learn light. There are some masterful photogs out there who never use flash. You are not one of them. Get to know and master light. Start with ambient and introduce flash. I love available light and use it as my only light source quite often. Know when it works and know when to bring in some artificial light.
|Client shoot, available light only|
Then you gotta check out radio triggers. What's the standard? PocketWizard. The Plus III is now the new boss of radio triggers at $150 per. You'll need at least 2, of course. Now ask me what I like. That would be the Yongnuo RF-603. You can get a set of 4 of these for under $70! And they work like nobody's business. I've never had one fail on me. These transeivers (transmitter & receiver in one) are each firing up to 200ft away. I tested them. The only downside is they only sync at 1/200th of a second vs. 1/250th, but I've been able to deal with that. You can too. Get a couple of flashes and a set of 4 of these radio triggers and you are set.
|Using low level on-camera flash swiveld left to trigger White Lightning X3200 |
off to the left side filling in front side details
Another thing to consider is modifiers. These are things that MODIFY how the light comes out and hits your subject. Diffusers, of some sort are the most popular type of modifiers. These scatter the light so your subject is hit more evenly instead of the way harsh direct light flattens out an image and creates ugly shadows, maybe under the eyes, nose, and chin. Reflectors are also popular. You can use the sun to just bounce light back into the subject, but this might be a problem if you're bouncing the light of the sun with a silver reflector back into your model's eyes. What do I like? As ugly as it is, I gotta say the Gary Fong Collapsible Lightsphere is the bomb. It may not look like its worth $60, but when it delivers the shot and you get paid, you rethink that notion. Softboxes on monolights are the only other thing that compares.
|Nude hiking, available light only|
Here are a few nice Go-To links to follow through on:
1. Strobist - Excellent source for lighting tutorials, articles, and DIY light building.
2. Adorama TV - Tutorial videos. I have this link specifically related to lighting
3. The Top 10 Photography Lighting Facts You Should Know
4. Painting with Light - Google image search
5. Guess the Lighting.com - Excellent blog that illustrates lighting techniques using diagrams
6. Sketching Light - Book by Joe McNally on working with flashes
7. High Speed Sync - Explanation of how it works
8. Mark Wallace on Rear Curtain Sync
9. Mark Wallace on Sync Speed, High Speed Sync, and Radio Triggers
10. Canon Professional Network - Getting the most from your Speedlites
11. Nikon Creative Lighting Systems - In my opinion, Nikon has the edge in lighting
12. Luminous-Landscape - Another top photography blog that talks a lot about lighting