Juicing up bland light – Off Camera Flash and Video Light

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Working underneath a quite densely canopied area of the beautiful Forest of Bere, the light on our model, Minty Pender, was quite flat and generally low. The light was not ‘bad’ – the light was even and there were no harsh shadows – but I decided it could do with a blip of additional light to juice it up!

I wanted to retain most of the ambient lighting in our surroundings, and not make the image too ‘flashy’ or have Minty in a pool of light, so based my initial exposure to give maybe 1/2 to 1 stop underexposure on our model. This was a case of simply firing off a couple of test shots, and reviewing the image on the back of my camera’s LCD screen, until I was happy with my background. No specific metering was performed for this.

At hand I had my Nikon sb900 flash gun, my Lastolite 24″ x 24″ Ezybox, and my 96 led video light. I opted first to use my flash mounted in the Ezybox and used both baffle diffusion layers to give me soft lighting. With my subject in a static position to my light, manual flash makes perfect sense here in order to ensure consistent subject exposure from frame to frame. This was metered for my specifically chosen aperture and ISO settings.

The image below is with the flash disabled so you can see the effect of the blip of light.

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With the sun positioned behind Minty you can also see that the slight hair light and back light on her shoulders is retained in the main image at the top. This image didn’t actually make my ‘final cut’, but I had retained the ambient only shot before the flash was added, which nicely demonstrates the technique used here.

Camera settings for these image at top: ISO 640, f/4.0, 1/160, Manual Off Camera-Flash

With the ambient light levels quite low in the setting we were in, I was sure that the relatively low power of my led video light would also register to enhance the existing light. Unlike flash, the video light is a continuous light source and so you need to expose for what you see. I love this about using the video light.  I can fine tune the light (and indeed must fine tune it with it being a small light source) to exactly how I want before tripping the shutter.

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Camera setting for this image: ISO 1000, f/4.0, 1/100

The shoot itself was good fun! Despite an initial bit of searching for a spot with bluebells (!) we stumbled upon this lovely patch of the forest which was perfect for the images. I had also bought this vintage table for Minty to use as her stage, which was lugged to our chosen spot.

A full set of images from the shoot can be found here.

Make up was provided by Miriam King; gorgeous dress by Nikki Glamragzz.

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