Womanwise - Gabrielle Hosein

Gabrielle Hosein and her family at their Santa Cruz Home.

"But I only have one light."
Don't know how many times I've heard that lament from a new photographer and sometimes even a few togs who have been in the game for far too long.
The thing is, if you aren't shooting in a completely dark room against a black background, there's a good chance you have more light than you realise available to you.

For one thing, there's usually the sun, the most powerful source of ambient light, which I make a lot of use of when I'm shooting with low powered speedlights on location.
The sun is often a challenge and one of the reasons why I keep a Canon G11 in my bag on location shoots is for those times when I can't overpower the sun with speedlights and I can make use of that camera's ability to synchronise with flash at any shutter speed.
With my DSLR, though, the top speed for flash sync is one two-hundredth of a second, and sometimes I need to boost the strobe a bit more.

Of late, I've been making use of Lastolite's TriFlash, a coldshoe multiple flash solution that's now part of a family that includes a new locking coldshoe version and a quite expensive hotshoe version that looks like it might be quite useful to a hardcore speedlight user.
The Triflash is a surprisingly well made gadget that stacks up to three flashes into an array that you can bang into or through an umbrella.

The photo of Gabrielle Hosein and her family was done under photographer hostile circumstances. Brilliant midday sun with few attractive options for shade, but I decided to make the most of those.
With the Lastolite, I can either boost the effective flash output by roughly one additional stop for every flash I attach or I can take advantage of faster cycling times by cutting the power output of each of the individual units.

My "lightweight" location lighting kit is already starting to feel a bit hefty, with two lightstands and one extension pole, three strobe connectors, two collapsible umbrellas, one silver, one white in one bag and three speedlights in the camera bag. I've found the Lastolite useful for duplicating the capacity of a single lightstand by allowing me to point strobes in two different directions from the same position.

The other challenge of shooting outdoors with an umbrella, of course, is that the units are basically a sail for every passing wind. It's not always as effective as I'd like, but hanging my bags off the lightstand usually makes it stable enough for a quick shoot.
If there's anything to be learned from this exercise, it's that the first step to controlling any shoot is being able to place the light source where you need it to be, and that usually means getting it off the camera, which has been the underlying theme of pretty much all of these conversations about photographic technique and then controlling it accurately wherever you decide to put it.

It's not possible to do everything with a single speedlight and many projects demand multiple lights and sometimes they demand far more power than any speedlight system or even a combination of speedlights can put out, but then there are photos you can do with far less light than you might suspect and even just one controllable source of light.
blog comments powered by Disqus