On the Road: Backstage Portraits, Part 2

Nikon D200, 35mm 1.8 AF-S DX, ISO 100, f/4, 1/250 sec.
Nikon D200, 35mm 1.8 AF-S DX, ISO 100, f/4, 1/250 sec.

All of the photos in this post were lit with flash bounced off of a ceiling or wall. It wasn’t always possible to find neutral-colored surfaces for bouncing, but when it was, the light was generally softer than the small softbox I used in Part 1. It is also important to keep in mind that you can shift the white balance in post if you are dealing with off-color bounce surfaces.

Nikon D200, 35mm 1.8 AF-S DX, ISO 200, f/4, 1/250 sec.
Nikon D200, 35mm 1.8 AF-S DX, ISO 200, f/4, 1/250 sec.

Speaking of off-color bounce surfaces, sometimes they can work in your favor. Take the photo at the top of this post for instance. This was lit with a single bare speedlight placed behind and to camera right of the subject. It was aimed diagonally toward him in order to use the wall to camera left as a key, but also to act as a rim light on the opposite side.

The bounce surface in that photo was more of a cream than white, so the main light on the subject’s face ends up looking much warmer than the rim light coming directly from that same flash. I did tone down the warmth a bit during post-processing, hence the bluish tone of the rim light.

Nikon D200, 35mm 1.8 AF-S DX, ISO 200, f/4, 1/250 sec.
Nikon D200, 35mm 1.8 AF-S DX, ISO 200, f/4, 1/250 sec.

When bouncing the light off of a wall, the distance of the flash to the wall (along with the zoom setting on the flash) will dictate the size of the bounced light source. Another thing to keep in mind when using this technique is that you will often need to have a gobo or flag in between the flash and the camera, otherwise there is a potential for some pretty nasty flare or loss of contrast.

Bill
Nikon D200, 50mm 1.8 AF, ISO 200, f/4, 1/250 sec.

When using the ceiling as a bounce surface, the same rules apply regarding distance. The time-honored quick and dirty ceiling bounce technique is to keep the flash mounted on camera and aimed at the ceiling. This works great in a pinch and when on the move; however, for a staged portrait, different shaping can be achieved by moving the flash off-camera and aiming at the ceiling.

Dan
Nikon D200, 35mm 1.8 AF-S DX, ISO 200, f/4, 1/250 sec.

The above photo makes use of this ceiling bounce technique. In addition, I set the camera’s white balance to tungsten and put a full CTO gel on the flash. This kept the main light white while letting the shadows fall to a bluish cast.

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