Friday, July 25, 2008

balancing flash and natural light

It's my nth trip to Eco Park and had done a lot of photoshoots there but this time I tried to perfect a lighting technique - and that is how to balance the flash with the natural light. Specifically for this shoot, my objective is to seamlessly blend the flash with the existing ambient lighting of a particular scene. Using Nikon's Creative Lighting System, such task can be made easier but still you have to do a lot of trial and error until such time you get what is pleasing to your eyes.

It was a rainy day at the park but I still proceeded with the shoot knowing fully well that there will only be a few promenaders at the park which is very desirable when shooting your models who will not become conscious by the presence of people watching them or stopping by to peek a look at what they're doing. The sun was hiding behind the nimbus clouds, hence, it was an overcast day and an appropriate time to bring out the flash to contribute some artificial light to your images.

Blending the flash seamlessly with the ambient light is easier said than done. Some do it to sharpen the image or bring out details on the subject while others do it to create a more dramatic lighting or to put some edge definition on the subject. I tried doing all these but my results leave so much to be desired. Having had plenty of experience shooting in available light, I find it more appealing nowadays to combine both light sources into my portraiture.

To achieve this lighting technique, you can always think of it this way - and you have to choose whether you're going to make the sun or the natural light as your main light and your artificial light from your flash as your fill light and vice versa. If you'll treat your flash as your main light and the natural light as your fill light, you have to overpower the natural light by fixing your flash to a setting with a much higher light intensity. This will create or give you with a more dramatic image with edge definition on your subject.

The second and the fifth photos from the top are good examples of this where the flash overpowers the natural light. With the rest of the photos, I think I was able to get a balanced lighting from my artificial light source and from the natural light then obtaining.

When positioning the flash, moreover than not, I always place it 90 degrees or 45 degrees from where my subject is standing and this is how is light my people subject whenever I combine both flash and natural light. This set-up would give you a more dramatic facial contours inasmuch as the light falling or spreading down on the face are uneven which is your objective in the first place to avoid getting flat portraits or those where both sides of the face are similarly illuminated. A little darker on one side is, for me, a more pleasing image than one where both sides of the face are lighted with the same intensity.

For modelling credits, I'd like to thank Issa Ortiz-Luis and Nadine Dixon for being my models on this edition of my Eco Park series.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

Thanks for the examples on using flash with natural light. Many times photographers think that being outside you should just "go with the light you have" - which leads to many disappointing photos.