Snap versus photograph

Let me give newcomers here a quick “go-to” recipe for a dramatic portrait.

First, the snapshot. If I put my client outside and snap, I get this:

I exposed well; I used the Rule of Thirds; but it is still a snapshot that, well, lacks something.

So here’s what I do:

  1. I underexpose the background by two stops (I make the meter point to -2 instead of zero)
  2. When doing this, I make sure my shutter speed does not exceed my flash sync speed; say, 1/200th second. So I use low ISO, shutter up to 1/200th second, and aperture as needed. (On a sunny day this will mean an aperture such as f/8 or even f/11).
  3. Now I add my flash. Off-camera flash, preferably. I used a softbox on our right.
  4. I set the flash to the aperture I just decided on (so if I need f/8 for a dark enough background, I adjust the flash power and fire a test flash, using my flash meter to measure, and I repeat this until the flash meter says f/8.

The resulting shot:

The setup:

This is a simple technique which needs little equipment. I encourage you to try it!


Note: several flash workshops coming up, including one in Hamilton on Feb 17, 2-6pm. Keep that day open – and stay tuned!



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