Adding off-camera flash to create drama……

Sometimes we can have perfect, directional, soft ambient light. No additional lighting required other than what is before our very eyes to capture a beautiful portrait, great!! However, we might also envisage a different look for our image. Something with a bit more punch and drama…..

The above two photos illustrate this perfectly (click on the images to enlarge). The light under the arched passage way was great – soft and directional. I could shoot under these conditions without any additional lighting and get great flattering photos of the bride and her stunning dress. However, I also had a different image in mind before shooting that involved using some off-camera flash. Cue the image on the left….

The process of this is simple and effective. Pull down the ambient lighting by a certain amount (in this case 2 stops) and have the flash metered to give us correct subject exposure under these settings. In this particular instance the settings for both photos was as follows:

Ambient lighting only = 1/250, f4.0, ISO 800
Off-camera flash = 1/250, f4.0, ISO 200

Pulling down the ambient lighting was as quick as lowering the ISO setting and then triggering the off-camera flash, which was pre-metered for f4.0 and ISO 200 before the bride was in position. The flash was fired in a Lastolite 24×24″ Ezybox to give nice diffuse lighting, expertly held in position by my assistant for the day (cheers Derek Thomas!). In this scenario it is up to individual taste how much we want to lower the ambient lighting. If we want to have the subject in a pool of light we can lower the ambient lighting even lower (within the power of our flash gun).

I was able to mix up the lighting in these photos quickly and efficiently…
I always have the function button on the front of my Nikon cameras set to disable flash. By disabling the flash fire and shooting at ISO 800 I used ambient lighting alone and by lowering the ISO to 200, releasing the function button and allowing the flash to fire I was able to use off-camera flash. Shooting this way I was able to get a series of bridal portraits, which I was very happy with, with within a space of a few minutes.

And there we have it! A touch of off-camera flash to create a bit of drama to an already gorgeous setting.


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