Following on from my recent posts on the use of off-camera flash for interior and night photography – off camera flash has another useful trick up its sleeve.
Off-camera flash can be used to highlight, or spotlight a particular element or part of your subject. If you keep things absolutely simple and forget about all the fancy – and mostly unnecessary – functions on your flash, then it really gets very easy indeed to create powerful images.
The picture of the open doorway taken from inside the derelict washroom – yes, it’s yet another of those wonderful subjects at La Mola in Menorca – has been taken from inside looking out. The daylight outside is very bright and, naturally, when a light reading is taken of the brightness outside, the dark interior of the washroom must be seriously under-exposed. This would render the wash basins very dark indeed. They were, after all, in deep shadow.
The answer was to use a flash to light the interior – or at least part of it.
The tendency for the inexperienced is to light the whole inside scene by using the flash with the beam spread at its widest angle – especially so when a wide angle lens is used on the camera.
But by aiming the hand-held, off-camera flash carefully, and narrowing the flash beam by using the zoom function on the flash, just one particular area – the wash basins in this case – can be lit.
This now brings a powerful focal point to the composition and adds a dramatic effect to the picture.
CAMERA SET UP
- Camera: Nikon D700
- Lens: Nikon f/2.8 24-70mm
- Exposure Mode: Manual
- Shutter speed: 1/50sec
- Aperture: f/16
- ISO 200
- Self timer: 10secs
- Tripod: Gitzo Traveller with Gitzo ball head
FLASH SET UP
- Manual Mode: 1/2 power
- Zoom angle: 85mm
- Flash connected to camera by simple 4m sync lead
A light reading was taken of the exterior looking out of the door. f16 was chosen deliberately in order to increase depth of field.
The image was composed, then the camera put on the tripod. A 4m sync lead connected the camera to the flash which was set on Manual mode and ½ power with the flash’s zoom set at 85mm – some flash guns often zoom in even narrower.
The self-timer was set at 10 seconds, easily long enough for me to press the shutter button and move into position with the flash well to one side of the camera.
While waiting for the shutter to fire, the flash was aimed very carefully at the wash basins to get the best results.
Job done – move on to the next.
The flash techniques described in these recent posts are often demonstrated during my Photography Holidays and Photography Courses, both in SW Scotland and Menorca.