Photography News | Issue 32 | absolutephoto.com
Lighting academy Small and light One of the main problems in lighting children is that they can be unpredictable, easily distracted and hate being told what to do. Therefore, finely arranged and precise set- ups aren’t always successful, unless you have a compliant, distracted, well drilled (or sleeping) subject. Forcing them to work with such set-ups only causes problems, making them behave unnaturally, which will come through in their poses and expressions – the opposite of what you want. one light in each corner of a room. The second light was fitted with an octa softbox and it was set to Channel 1, Group A. Setting the channels in this way illustrates the advantages of a wireless flash system, and specifically the use of radio triggers, of which the S1 Remote is an great example. The alternative is really to use a speedlight on the camera, but that doesn’t offer the same freedom or power. To make matters even easier, I was using a 70-200mm lens, giving me plenty of scope for framing near and far. Words & pictures by Kingsley Singleton Two easy lighting set-ups and wrangling tips for children
But distractions can be used to help position them, and so long as the lighting is adding to the shot, but not interfering with the subject’s behaviour, it’s always a benefit. Our subject, Grace, was a little over two years old, so probably around the hardest to age to shoot; most of her time being spent scurrying about and doing her own thing. The first idea was to get some shots in the garden, but there was no way either I or her dad was going to tell her exactly what to do; so we had to be responsive and use the lights in a way where their effect suited her movement. Faking the sun The first set of shots being outdoors, I wanted them to have a natural, sunlit glow. I was planning on setting up a couple of lights to broadly act as fill flash against the sun, but typically, the latter didn’t play ball. So instead, I started by using one of the two Interfit S1 heads I’d brought along as a stand-in for the sun. This was essential on an overcast day, with the flash required to make the colours pop and add some twinkle. This backlight was placed at one end of the garden, and raised to about 6ft on a light stand. Due to it being placed on a lawn, and the fact that children are intrigued by and allergic to toppling light stands, I secured it at the base. An easy way to do this is using a few lengths of coat hanger wire, to stake it in, like a tent. Because I wanted the light to be as natural- looking and sun-like as possible, I attached no additional modifier; just using the standard frosted-glass dome diffuser that comes with the head and sits over the flash tube to protect it. This also meant that the light would cover over 180° giving me lots of scope for Grace to move around. Using the accompanying S1 remote, this first light was set to Channel 1, Group B, so that I could control its power independently from the second light. The mode was set to TTL, more on which in a moment. Cross light, happy kids The second light was to be the fill light, but how can you position your lights when the subject is always moving? Enter the human light stand! The idea in this case was to have Grace’s dad move around and keep the light to her front, creating a cross-light set-up, so the flash would always be there to fill in the shadows. That also meant I could stay in a position where the first light was always working as a backlight. Of course this is something you can do indoors as well, with
Metering on the move As mentioned, I used TTL mode for the garden shots, the reason being that with the unpredictable nature of the subject and her distance fromthe two flashes, manual settings would’ve been too inflexible. The distance is the clincher; with the flash needing to be raised or lowered in power, responsive to it, so to avoid over or underexposure. Shooting in aperture-priority (A or Av), at f/4 and ISO 200, the shutter speed was locked to 1/60 and the S1’s TTL system did a grand job of getting the power right for me. The only problems I had was when Grace got too close to the backlight, as the power couldn’t drop as a far as required at that point, but these instances were few and far between. With each light triggered in a different group, it also meant I could use the flash exposure compensation feature via the S1 Remote. Why would I do that when TTL was giving good exposures? Well, I actually wanted a little more punch to the ‘sun’, so it gave stronger highlights. All I had to do there, was select Group A and dial in +1.0. The second, mobile light was kept at 0.0, so that the exposure from it would be as metered.
How can you position your lights when the subject is always moving? Enter the human light stand!
Above Shooting in TTL exposure mode, the backlight power was upped to +1.0EV to give the look of a sunny day. The fill light was carried by her dad to keep it at her front.
Right Because of the overcast day on which we were shooting, using one flash as a stand-in for the sun helped give some moderate backlighting, while the second light filled in the shadows on Grace. Far Right You can see how underexposed Grace’s face is when the lights aren’t used, as well as the lack of highlight in her hair.
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