Sunday, May 31, 2009

Better Sunsets

I have been working on getting better sunset shots recently. As the summer comes closer and wedding season is now in full swing, I wanted to begin creating more "Show Stopper" images. Here is one I did at last night's wedding of Maria and Ruben. The only manipulation I did was to convert from NEF (raw) to Jpg. Otherwise, it is right out of the camera.

The first image details are ISO 100, F5.6, 1/100 sec, 27mm on a 24-70mm F2.8 lens. I angled the on-camera flash slightly to the left so it would be sure to fire the Remote flash while still acting as fill on the couple. I tipped the on-camera flash up a little so it wouldn't illuminate the ground right in front of me.

I began by underexposing the sky by one stop. By the time this was taken, the sky was likely two and a half or three stops underexposed. I like the effect because it really brings out the deep blue of the sky. Without clouds, you don't get drama, like I did in this image.

The second image details are ISO 200, F4.5, 1/125 sec, 31mm on 24-70mm F2.8 lens.

Both images use an off-camera light held by my assistant/second shooter. It is fired by the Nikon Creative Lighting System, or CLS for short. That means the on-camera flash is acting as the Master and the off-camera flash is in Remote mode. I have been starting with the Remote set to TTL +1.0 and the on-camera set to TTL +0. I have been adjusting it an I now think I will start at Remote set to TTL+0 and the on-camera Master set to TTL -1.0. In either case, there is a 1 stop difference between the on-camera Master and the off-camera Remote.

Now that you have the basic technique, try it for yourself and experiment. The key to this is the off-camera Remote flash. Without it, the image just looks flat. With it, you get shadows next to highlights and that creates depth. And, the beauty of the digial SLR is the instant feedback you get. Now, go out and play!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"Bagging" your flash

Back when I shot for the newspapers in the mid '80s, we had a term for putting a gel on your flash to match the ambient color temperature. That technique was called "Bagging." I am not sure why we called it that, but we did.

At the wedding this past Saturday we did a still life of the bride's shoes, jewelry, and garter. The wedding dress was hanging up in the background, but was lit by the incandescent light of the master bath. The bedroom was lit by a window and our flash. Here is the first attempt. It looks like what everyone else takes. Even "Uncle Bob."
You can see that the dress is a little orange due to the warmer light of the master bath's incandescent bulbs. I added at 1/2 CTS filter to the on-camera flash and and changed the white balance (WB) on my camera to Tungsten. This is the result.
As you can see, a much more pleasing rendition of the scene. This looks more professional and less like everyone else.

These filters can be purchased from most any photography store on line, or do a search for flash gels, flash filters, or color filters. They cost about $6 or $7 dollars for a sheet big enough you will likely never use it all. Then, you can "Bag" your flash and make your images look more professional and less like "Uncle Bob's."