A spot of 'magic' in Lisburn city

This month, Raw Photographic members made the most of the mild, dry weather, and took to the streets of Lisburn for some portrait photography.


Following a presentation from Eileen McCausland on the topic, our members wanted to put their new-found knowledge into practice.


Gathering at the Linen Centre (and not venturing any further) we worked in small groups to experiment with various light sources including LED Panels, LED wands and off camera flash. We also made use of a variety of light modifiers and reflectors. The ever festive Bow Street Lights made for interesting backgrounds where members practiced the technique of mixing ambient and flash exposures for portraiture.


As always, our members helped each other out, posing for one another and sharing techniques.



Dabbling in the 'Studio anywhere' technique, our members were able to capture some dark and moody shots, despite the location being fairly well lit.


Club member, Mathieu Decodts, explains this technique below.


The Studio anywhere technique

"In short, the concept, "studio anywhere" is about gaining a good understanding of your lighting equipment. Once you do, your studio becomes knowledge in your head, and you can create that studio look anywhere!


Here is a cool lighting example to explain. These two pictures are taken seconds apart - thanks to Paul for modelling!




The only thing different in both pictures is the shutter speed and the flash power. Let me explain how to do this as best I can here, though this is definitely best learned in practice!


In picture one (on the left), I set my lens aperture, ISO and shutter speed to get a decent exposure on the backdrop before I even turned on my flash. Once I had my backdrop the way I wanted it I then turned on the flash (inside an octobox to the side) and allowed the TTL (through the lens) connected to the camera to set the power. Note that this can be done with a manual flash too, it just requires more tinkering with the flash power initially. So, I manually chose the exposure for the backdrop, and the flash automatically balanced the flash on Paul's face to get a good exposure.


In picture two (on the right), I estimated how bright the scene was, turned off the flash and set my shutter much higher, too high in fact. I was trying to "mess up" the exposure on purpose, to get the desired effect. Note that this only really works in manual mode because in any other mode the camera will try to "fix" your mistake, namely too dark an exposure.


At the "too high shutter speed" the background ambient lighting was not strong enough, or I was too far away for it to be strong enough, to be captured by the camera. However, the flash isn’t actually affected by the shutter speed. The flash duration or pop is so fast that the only thing that affects its exposure is the aperture. So even though I left controlling the flash power to the TTL connection it likely didn’t change at all. The result is that the background ambient exposure is "wrong", in this case completely black but the exposure on the subject’s face, provided by the flash is perfect - the TTL connection sees to that. This gives the apparent look of a black studio background!


Looks like magic, right?! Well, if you are new to flash it is, but if you are experienced you will realise this is just one of the many cool effects you can achieve with a solid understanding of off-camera lighting."


You can read more about this technique over on Mathieu's blog. Or, to find out what we're up to on our next club night, check out our programme for the year.

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