I recently utilized a warm winter afternoon to shoot some senior pictures for Marielle and Stephanie. We headed out to an old factory in Longmont for some edgy, urban photos that would be as distinctive and fun!
I’ve had some people ask me if these photos are natural light . . . and the answer is actually, no! Every one of these shots was taken using a flash. If you look at the above photo, you will notice a very subtle shadow to the right side of Stephanie’s necklace.
A lot of times people think that they want ‘natural light’, because it is soft and ‘natural’. But the reality is, most of the time the available light we have to work with is not all that pretty. It can be too flat, to harsh, and leave dark circles and highlight blemishes. In the right hands, extra strobes can be used to create light that is BETTER than available light. In the above two shots I used a beauty dish as a light modifier to make the light soft and ‘natural’ looking.
In this next shot above I used a bare flash, for a more dramatic and fashion-like lighting effect. For this shot I wanted to go for a harder, edgier, punk rock feel. You can see the pronounced difference between light and dark between the front and back of her jeans.
All of these shots were taken on an overcast day, and the available light was pretty murky. If this shot had been taken without any strobes, then Marielle’s eyes would have been quite dark. But a very subtle addition of a strobe can bring out the eyes, smooth the wrinkles, and no one will even know a flash was used.
And for the camera nerds out there, another thing that was interesting about this shoot was that this was the first time I’ve used the Nikon CLS flash triggering system. I usually use Pocket Wizards with the strobes set on manual. But the problem with that is that I can’t shoot wide open because of the synch speed. With CLS I can shoot TTL with high speed synch and shoot at any shutter speed I want. The downside is a loss of power. It worked fine on this cloudy day, but I’ll have to see how well it works in bright sun, I’ll probably still need an ND filter. The CLS worked pretty well, but that is just a temporary step, because my Radio Poppers arive today! So there will be more TTL off camera lighting in my near future!
On the way home I remembered that there was this cool fence on the outskirts of Boulder, so I made sure to get one shot out there as well! Here the strobe was at camera left. The beauty dish robbed too much power at this distance, so I shot it bare flash, as you can see the strong shadow of Marielle’s foot on the fence. Thanks for reading, I hope the photographers out there enjoy my techie explanations.