I shot Victoria Fenner today. But only, you will be glad to know, with a camera.
Let me talk you through that, shall I?
Victoria is an audio expert. She used to run the studio at McMaster University that we shot this in. We decided to shoot her doing her thing – and sound is her thing. So we shot in a studio first:
Camera: I shot her with a Canon 1D Mark IV. The camera was on manual at 100 ISO. I used a 24-70 lens set to around 24mm – meaning around 30 “real” mm.
Light: the camera was equipped with a 580 EXII flash to act as e-TTL “master” to drive three 430EX speedlites:
- The “A” flash through an umbrella on camera right, shining into Victoria’s face. An umbrella throws nice soft light, great for faces. (There is a certain irony in the fact that we use the word “umbrella” to name this thing that throws around this nice light. Umbra means shadow!)
- One “B” flash with a green Honl Photo gel in the background – I love adding a splash of colour, and green goes very well with purple.
- Another “B:” flash, fitted with a Honl Photo 1/4″ grid, as hair/accent light shining toward the camera. You can see it just outside the field of view.
- I set an A:B ratio of 4:1 to 8:1.
All this took about ten minutes to set up, and ten minutes to take down.
Then we shot some outdoors. For this, I used two flashes off camera: one into a Honl gold/silver bounce card; the other using a grid, as before. Yes, in bright sunlight you can fire these flashes using light-controlled TTL.
This was a bright day in April around noon. But it does not look like noon light, does it? I shot in Aperture mode, with -2 to -3stops exposure compensation. That darkened the background to give it colour saturation. The flashes took care of the foreground.
Why do you usually (always?) flash through an umbrella, rather than using the umbrella to reflect the flash back at the subject?
Does reflecting the flash result in a softer, more diffused light?
When you shoot through an umbrella, you get softer light (after all it’s closer, for one!) and importantly, you avoid eye reflections that look like a “circle with a black thing in it” (the flash). Instead, you get simply a nice circle.