Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Ever So Useful Speedlite

Every photographer has faced this dilemma at one point or another during their career: How do you eliminate shadows when you're shooting on the go? Since every subject ideally needs to be lit using the three way system (spot, back light, and filler), finding that balance on the road can be tricky. Not every location will come equipped with its own studio lighting set.

Shadows are the evil nemesis of every photographer, and during the age old battle, many devices have come to help fight the good fight. One of those is the Speedlite. By attaching it to the camera, the photographer can usually avoid a high contrast look (remember: high contrast = a lot of shadows. It may be good for Hitchcock, but not for you cousin's Bar Mitzvah). A speedlite, when used correctly, can be a fast and easy solution to the shadow problem and can save you the hassle of working harder in post production.

Essentially an external flash will allow you to "bounce" the light of the flash off other objects, like the ceiling or wall, and onto the subject of the photograph. The swivel technique is a good place to start. Pointing the speedlite directly at the subject will be most unflattering and will create harsh shadows, exactly what you're trying to avoid. Position yourself so there is a wall either to the left or right of the subject. Swivel the speedlite to the 3 o'clock position (if the wall is on your right) or 9 o'clock (if the wall is on your left). The speedlite will be aimed at the wall while your camera is aimed at the subject, creating a side lighting effect. If you swivel it to a wall directly behind you instead, this will create wrap-around light, covering the subject very evenly and eliminating almost all shadows.

No professional should be caught using the internal flash, so shop for speedlites, lens filters, and other professional photography equipment at Super Digital City.

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