Direction is everything

In yesterday’s class at The Granite Club, I emphasized that you can do professional artistic pictures with very simple means. Any DSLR camera; a normal lens, slightly wide to slightly long, and one on-camera flash in a small room. That can get you shots like this:

The secrets:

  • Shoot in a small room with white walls and ceilings.
  • Shoot long if you can – avoid wide except when you have to in the small room.
  • Try to “fill the frame”, and use good composition (e.g. the Rule of Thirds).
  • Camera on manual – say, f/5.6 at 1/125th sec and 400 ISO.
  • Try to include props – perhaps special clothing, sunglasses, anything interesting.
  • Simplify your shot – take things out that do not belong! You can do this by positioning, tilting, and even by post-shoot cropping.
  • Expose high: use Flash Compensation (“FEC”), to a positive setting (perhaps +1 to as much as +2). Light bright = smooth skin.
  • Especially: aim the flash accurately “where you want the virtual umbrella to be”.

That last point is illustrated by me here. Look carefully:

Can you see how I am holding the flash, and aiming it accurately behind me? You can see the white ceiling – where my flash lights it up, i.e. the “virtual umbrella”) right in front of the model.

(Cool shot, no? I am lucky to have a regular good model, and all the equipment – but with a little practice, we can all do this, with any model and any camera and lens. Learn the technique – then develop your eye.)


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