21 Jan 2016

From a regular snapshot to a decent one

Recently I was enjoying a party together with a group of friends. And there was a moment when they asked for the photos. It was evening, in a quite dark room, so there was not much options for lighting: I had to use flash or I had to crank the ISO up to 6400. So I have chosen for flash.

I started with one flash with omnibouncer, placed on the camera, directed 45 degrees towards the ceiling. iTTL mode did the job well, the only thing I had to do was to reduce the flash power by 1,5 stop, to balance a little bit with the background lighting. The result was, well, as expected:

The faces are well exposed, but the effect is rather disappointing: the scene is flat, shadows on the faces rather uniteresting.
But then I saw the possibilities to redo the scene with another lighting setup. Since I had 2 flash lights I decided to place them in the room according to the scheme shown below:

The light sources were SB-900 and SB-910 speedlight flashes, with omnibouncers, directed 45 degrees towards the ceiling, slightly above the model, both in the iTTL remote mode. They were triggered by the built-in flash of my camera. As previously, I adjusted the power of the flash by -1,5 stops - to show a little bit more background. I knew that the photo would be slightly underexposed, but I would be able to easily correct it in the post processing. The result was (in my opinion) much better:

Now I have separated the model from the background (look at the left shoulder of her and the top of the hair). Next to that, thanks to the light source on the left side of the camera I got the interesting shadow on her face, giving much more shape to it than on the first photo.
Of course, there is still a dozen of things to be improved (composition, background, white balance of the flash, just to mention some) - it is still a snapshot, after all.
But the learning is that it is always worth trying something else than on the camera flash. The setup cost me about 5 minutes but opened plenty of new possibilities of exposing the scene.