Using your flash or speedlight
off-camera dramatically increases the range of shots you can take on location
and lets you control the ambient light.
For this shot, we will produce a
fashion-style image with very underexposed ambient light. Our model is
illuminated by just one small off-camera flash. The more power offered by the
flash the better as it makes underexposing the ambient light easier. However,
the effect can still be achieved with a regular hotshoe flash or speedlight.
We are using a Nikon SB-800 mounted on a
portable stand and fitted with a small softbox to light this shot. This was
positioned to the right of the camera (the model’s left) and angled at 45
degrees towards her. Using the flash mounted on the camera would have resulted
in a less effective-looking shot as we wouldn’t be able to control how the
shadows fall on her face.
Getting the shot
The ambient light is underexposed by two
and a half to three stops, leaving the flash to do all the work. We asked the
model to play with her scarf and look straight into the lens.
an eye on the details. Ensure stray hairs are tucked away and the clothing and
accessories are right.
hotshoe flash on stand diffused with a Lastolite EzyBox is used to overpower
harsh light in the middle of the day.
is an incredibly quick and easy setup – the shade provided by the tree helps
control the ambient light.
is a great way of creating a quick and dramatic effect outside. For an extra
bit of contrast, try adding a half CTO gel in addition to the full CTO gel.
You can create dramatic effects outdoors by
experimenting with a gel on your flash and playing around with the white
balance settings on your DSLR. This can produce a range of creative and
interesting effects straight out of the camera with minimal post-processing
A hotshoe flash fitted with a full CTO
(Colour Temperature Orange) gel was positioned on a portable stand to the right
of the camera (the model’s left). The gel ensures that the background records
as a cool blue due to the white balance settings used.
Getting the shot
We asked the model to sit in one of the
trees and compose the image so that the line of trees stretching out into the
distance is visible over her right shoulder. Only the model, plus the tree in
which she is sitting, are affected by the output from the flash, creating the
effect we were after.
setup only requires one hotshoe flash, incorporating the shade of a tree helps
to subdue the midday sun.
the Lastolie EzyBox off and just use the flash on a stand off-camera for this
kind of shot.
off-camera flash, place a full CTO (Colour Temperature Orange) gel over the
flash head and set the camera’s white balance to tungsten.
Pros and cons of location lighting
There can be lots of potential to explore.
Use flash or the ambient light, depending
on the effect you want.
Weather conditions may not be great on the
It can be hard to get rid of all
distracting/unattractive elements from the scene.