Photography News Issue 36

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Photography News | Issue 36 | absolutephoto.com

Technique

BACKTO BASICS

Lighting academy Flashfundamentals This month, start your journey into the exciting world of creative lighting effects with PN’s Lighting Academy. Over the coming months you’ll find out all about how flash and continuous lighting works and how it can be used to improve your shots. This month, how get to know a typical flash system and the modifiers that really make a difference…

Words & pictures by Kingsley Singleton

There is an infinite number of choices and that’s what makes lighting techniques so exciting

Photography is all about the mastery of light, and that doesn’t just mean the available light (that which is in the scene already and largely beyond your control); if you want real control you need to start adding the light yourself and shaping it to your creative will. If you get to grips with artificial lighting techniques, which you can do with very little effort, and just the bare minimum of kit, you’ll be able to transform the kind of flat room lighting which mars so many portraits. Artificial lighting can also be used to improve the look of portraits on location, instantly balancing strong natural light or changing the mood of a shot for dramatic effect. Pictures can be bright and airy with little or no shadow, or dark and dramatic with strong texture – it’s all available at the flick of a few switches, and once you get the feel for how it’s done the range of options is startling. The trouble is, working with flash can seem daunting to those with no experience of it; and evenmore daunting if you’ve tried it in the past and not had much success. But if you get the basics right, there’s very little to worry about.

The first thing to take care of is triggering the flash so that it fires off -camera. You can do this using an old-fashioned sync lead if required, but with most modern flash systems now using wireless control it’s very simple to set the lights up wherever you want, control their power and fire themwhen required. Next you can start thinking about the really creative aspects; how you’re going to position and modify the lights to put your own spin on the subject. Will the illumination be full or glancing? Shadowy or shadowless? Will it be cast from higher or lower than the subject? How many lights will you use and what level of contrast will you set between them?Will the lighting be coloured, and will you light the background as well as the subject? There is an infinite number of choices and that’s what makes lighting techniques so exciting. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; if you’re new to flash you’ll want to get to know your way around a typical flash head and discover, at least in part, the range of modifiers you can use. Turn over to do that right now…

Above You don’t need much to get started with lighting, but once you get into studio work there is huge potential in terms of creativity and kit to play with. Left Two flashes fitted with softboxes were used here to create soft, balanced light.

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