Lighting on location – natural light plus a modifier

This is a post about photography and lighting on location so you’ve been warned! I’ll get around to some posts about the Canon 5Diii at some point but one of things that I’ve noticed with some super high ISO shots I’ve seen is that whilst they’re recording a sharp image in very low light the subject itself looks flat because the lighting is flat. When the light simply isn’t there to create the contrast you need to have to fake it or make it with artificial light. Here’s a few examples with lighting diagrams for the first two.

Paul Hendy & Emily Wood – the room was very dark when exposed correctly for the window, so add a fake window (a medium softbox, quite high and angled down). The softbox stops the light  bouncing all over the place and a small flash gun on the floor lights the dark corner. The second shot of Paul uses the window light as a kicker whilst a softbox balances the shadow side of the face.

Children in a school corridor. The corridor was very dark and the window light weak. A backlight fills the corridor whilst a softbox fills in to the opposite side of the window. A high ISO shot would not work as the difference between the shadows and highlights would be too much.

Couple on the beach in Whitstable. End of day sunshine? No. It was murky and flat and horrible. There’s a flash gun with an orange Honl gel sending light from behind and to the side of the beach huts. Flash guns with a gel are great for simulating sunshine if the ambient light is weak.

Office shots – all except the last one are from one flash gun. Firstly on the floor, bounced off the ceiling in the background to light a wall and create a kick to the background; then to the side to create a kicker to the face where the window light was too weak; then a softbox very close to the subject to create rapid fall off and a dark background.

Finally light against a bed and pillows – a softbox plays such a useful role as a portable window light.

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