Single Flash Unit Lighting Examples


Flash Example #1 © Dave Cracknell 2011


Tonight’s blog is showing some examples from using the flash accessories I mentioned in a blog entry a few nights ago. (Link) So I’ll explain the basic setup to begin with.

The Background is two sheets of Polystyrene Foam, my willing subjects are random clamps from the studio. Camera mounted on a tripod and a remote used to fire camera. Basic stuff.

Photo 1. Is taken under available light, white balance corrected in LR3. Note the semi silhouetted subject on left and shadows on base.

Photo 2. Is taken using the camera’s built-in flash. You can clearly see the harsh shadow falling onto the background. Plenty of detail where the subject was in shadow in the previous shot. Shadows have been eliminated on the base.

Photo 3. Is the same shot but using an external flash unit. The harsh shadow on the background is still there but as the flash is a larger light source the shadow is slightly more diffused and less sharp. There is a slight difference in exposure as the camera is adjusting the output of the flash because of the greater reflection from the background.


Flash Example #2 © Dave Cracknell 2011


Photo 4. Is with the same flash unit fitted with a Stophen Omni Bounce Diffuser. It’s basically a white plastic cup that fits over the flash head. Clearly the effect is obvious, the shadow on the background is very soft and more detail is evident in the front of the subject. Much more detail is visible in the subject itself.

Photo 5. Has the flash with diffuser fitted now angled at 45 degrees. The shadow has disappeared from the background and has dropped below the subject onto the base again. Shadows from the higher flash are now casting shadows onto other parts of the subject and slightly fewer details are visible as a consequence.

Photo 6. I have put the flash onto the Off Camera Cable and moved the flash and diffuser to the left of camera and I’ve held it slightly higher. This casts the longer shadow on the right. This reveals more details on the subject and the contours are more visible. The subject now starts to look less 2 dimensional.


Flash Example #3 © Dave Cracknell 2011


Photo 7. I’ve just lowered the flash to fire slightly upwards and throw the shadows onto the background. This makes for a more sinister look. Not a good look for a portrait unless the kids are dressed for Halloween.

Photo 8. The flash and diffuser have been positioned right above the subject just out of frame and aimed straight down, throwing some shadows forward and backwards. This hides some details and shows the edges in more detail.

Photo 9. The flash is aimed at the background, no direct flash is aimed onto the subject at all. The front of the subject falls into total silhouette.

As you can clearly see you can achieve many different lighting effects using just one flash, a diffuser and an off camera cable as I described in my earlier blog. There are tonnes more effects you can achieve just by adding in a reflector to bounce light back into the shadow areas and repositioning the flash on the right of camera. You’re only limited by your imagination and the patience of you subject. Now you know why I chose clamps instead of my cat as my subject. Next week I’ll do a similar series using a reflector, a second flash and some coloured gels.

Happy Shooting.

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