Monday, August 8, 2011

What I Know Now ~ Mono Monday!

#7 ~ The Grad Dress Session ~

I'm rather proud of today's post. Not because this is the most stupendous B&W ever known to man. Not just because this features my beautiful daughter as model, although it would still be a reason. But because I learned a week or so ago.... drum roll please... to take my flash out of auto mode and into manual. This folks is huge for me. I cannot tell a lie.

I sat in online with CreativeLive's free webinar two weekends ago, and much of the teaching revolved around using flash. Flash had overwhelmed me. Flash had left me feeling that auto was safest and good flash exposure was a fluke. Instead, they gave us info on the variables of exposure, and how each effects the others (order the Lighten Up and Shoot webinar to get the low down, and no, they don't know I exist, so I get nuthin' for saying so) and I walked away realizing once again that education is freeing, and only makes you open to more creativity if you let it. And to have fun, which is Mikey and Andy's motto at all times, webinar or no. Am learning to make it mine too.

Getting back to my humble little speed light. I learned that the zoom length feature on your flash results in how wide and far a net your flash light casts over the subject. I learned that the closer you get with any kind of soft white modifier, the better lit your subject is, and the farther away your light source, the harsher since it has further to go to wrap around your subject's features. I learned about flash power, about ambient light, and how to use what you have on hand for great portraits...

And all of this in manual mode on the flash... because that's how you stay free to be creative. I promptly rearranged my entire living room (note to self, lift with the legs, not with the back) and set up a DIY mini studio in front of a large white window and window seat. Made myself a scrim out of an opaque white curtain in front of my flash set up as a slave over on a stand very close to my subject. A subject who wanted some images of her grad dress, some  creative images of her grad dress. Set up a reflector on the opposite side to bounce any scattered light back to her, and set my cameras exposure to ensure the backlight was blown out behind her to eliminate a cluttered window view. The point of the flash firing through the scrim was to soften the expanding light... and the reflector just managed to throw highlights over her hair on the other side, giving depth.

Everyone's cameras and flashes and spaces, and lighting... are different. So giving you my exposure info won't really be helpful. But I'll say this. Expose for your subject and how you want to control the ambient light already filling the space. Then set your flash according to how you want to accentuate both... and go from there.

Get out your gear, stop being afraid of it, and play. There's no end to the rewards. And your daughter will thank you for not sticking her out in front of another bush in the garden for pics while you artfully try to avoid including the garden hose in the background or the newspaper guy making his delivery on the sidewalk. Been there, done that, never going back.

Thanks for the Monday ramble gang! Have a good one!

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