I’ve written about this subject before. The previous article was concerned with using fill flash to help illuminate the shadowed portions of wildlife in extremely bright situations. What about when the light is almost gone?
This Bighorn Sheep at Badlands National Park conveniently posed at dusk-last night-right next to the roadway. The sky was much brighter than the ram and any attempt to bump exposure would have resulted in a total loss of detail in the sky areas. He was still enough to perform some HDR magic but I preferred to get it right in-camera if I could.
Shooting on manual is the first key here. Find the exposure that holds the sky detail. The second key is to bounce enough light into the sheep without making it look like a flash picture. I started at full power and then dialed it back to half for a more natural appearance.
I had no remote flash triggers with me so I was forced to use an on-camera flash. It made the light a little flatter than I would have liked but it did put good detail into the shot. I can now see the ram much more clearly and I have a better place from which to begin when I do take this to software.
Remember: fill flash is a great tool for adding light to shadows. It is also a great tool for illumination in very low ambient light conditions.
Rikk Flohr © 2010
When the sun fails, bring a little extra light with you.
On my recent trip to North Dakota for the Independence Day Celebration, I ended up on top of a ridge called Custer’s Lookout with Mike Cranston, a fellow photog. Check out the Flickr Gallery of the weekend shoot here. I decided to try an environmental portrait of Mike next to the ruins of the old structure.
The camera metered the scene a little too bright. In spite of the soft mid-day light, I wanted more drama. Drama and Dark share three of the same letters so I often equate creating drama with a little added darkness. I moved the camera to manual and under exposed it a couple of stops so that I could get that brooding look.
Unfortunately, under exposing the scene made my building and my model far too dark for my taste. I liked the sky and the foreground well enough but I needed to kick up the light a little to make Mike pop off the image. I might be able to fix it in software but it would be time consuming. Get it right in camera, is one of my many mottos and I sought to improve the image then and there. The field solution was to attach a 580EXII Flash via cable to my Canon DSLR and pop a little fill flash into the area. With the flash on manual set to 1/2 power and zoomed to 50mm. I fired again creating the look used in the finished portrait you see at the top of the article.
A nice dramatic pose from Mike and the image was captured. Post processing was completed in Lightroom.
Even in the bright-even light of a mid-day overcast (of which every photographer dreams) sometimes you just have to bring your own to get the look you are after.
Rikk Flohr © 2009