Sunday, July 30, 2006

This has been a very productive week. Got a lot of things done but there're still a lot of things left to do on my 'to do' list. I've finally had to put my PDA back into action organising contacts and 'to do' lists. The last time I used my PDA was more than a year ago when I was still in Staffordshire University. Had to use it then to organise my laboratory notes and time tables.

Anyway, I found a place to print my t-shirts and have ordered a batch. I really am gambling with this since I don't really know what it'll look like compared to what I actually designed. Hope they get it right. Anyway, it is a small batch and I'll be giving a few to clients to find out how they like it. Again, it comes free with the package so you can't really complain. You might not want to wear it in public but you can still wear it to bed. Maybe I should have thought up a kinkier design. Hmmm.

Alright, on to more important stuff. I did some experimenting today with help from my beautiful wife and kid. You can see in the photos how happy they are to be helping me out with my photography.Basically, what I've tried to do is experiment on how to shoot available window light with fill flash. The photos were metered using a handheld Sekonic Flashmaster L358 lightmeter. This is a very useful piece of equipment and is worth knowing how to use. Anyway, what the meter gave me was 1/60s, f2.8, ISO1600. So that's what I set my camera to.I shot the first picture straight. No flash at all. The result is not bad but from the picture you can clearly see the left part of the picture in shadow and that half of little Dian's face is dark. Personally, I think the shadows need a little bit of fill. So it's time to turn on the flash and fill those shadows up.

The second shot was shot with the flash on ETTL2 (Canon) and a Lighsphere2 attached with the inverted dome on. No compensation was dialled in. This setup totally destroyed the available light look in my opinion. The flash overpowered the ambient light and although well exposed there was a lack of modelling effect on the subject's face.

I then decided to reduce the flash by dialling in a -2 compensation on the flash. I'm using a Canon 580EX and this is easily done using the button and the dial. A big improvement over the 550EX which I now have relegated to slave and/or backup flash. Anyway, I shot the picture with the flash compensation dialled in and the third picture was the result. I found that this was the most pleasing shot of them all. The flash has filled in some of the shadows and softened it a little. This has evened out the lighting but also preserved the available light look that I was after. It has not overpowered the ambient light and therefore the modelling effect was still maintained.

So, to end this experiment I asked myself, WHICH PICTURE IS BEST?
There is no wrong or right answer. It all depends on what you are looking for in the picture. In this instance I was looking for a soft/delicate portrait effect which still preserved the available light look. The first picture was good but the shadows would have benefitted from a bit of fill.

The second picture I guess is just a well exposed flash shot. I wasn't looking for this kind of effect. I wanted the ambient to rule the picture and in this picture it didn't. Plus there's a faint side shadow on the back wall.

The third picture is the middle ground. The flash has filled in some of the shadows and created a softer portrait whilst still maintaining the ambient lighting I was after.

This isn't the greatest picture of all time but it does show how you can use flash to your advantage without overpowering the ambient lighting. Of course, you could have evened out the lighting by using a reflector but I don't have one and I don't really have anytime to use it in a situation such as a wedding. I will be shooting a wedding next week and I'll be sure to try out some available window light portraits with fill-in flash if I have the opportunity.

Thank you for reading.

Have fun shooting.



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