Monday, July 21, 2014

One step forward...

Not a whole lot going on lately with photo projects, instead I have been spending some time over at the Creative Live website watching some of their training videos on portrait posing and lighting as this is something I want to learn more about. I can highly recommend the site as a wonderful resource, not just for photography - CreativeLive

The other week I had the opportunity to put some of the lighting techniques and tips to good use when I was tasked with taking some corporate headshots for web use. But as the title of this blog post hints, not everything went quite as well as planned.

I was certainly well prepared with some new additions to my mobile studio setup: a 5ft x 7ft collapsible white background and an Expodisc for custom WB setting. Add this to a softbox, 5in1 reflector, 2 Speedlights and assorted stands and I was good to go. Add to that my D2X was tethered to my Macbook Pro running Sofortbild and I could give almost instant feedback on the photos.

As this was going to be backlit to give a clean white background (easier to drop photos onto website) I setup my camera to be in manual so I could overpower the ambient light and set it to 1/200sec and f/4. I used the Expodisc to set the WB off my softbox output and used these settings as my base exposure for the shots, adjusting as needed.

I then setup the 2 lights, with the softbox being camera left, adjusting height and angle to suit the subject; the second light below should height behind the background to backlight. Both were set to remote and were triggered wirelessly.

And off I set taking the headshots. Along the way I started to notice my exposure settings were needing to be adjusted as they were coming out too dark. Even setting the rear flash to a +1 compensation was not lifting the exposure. Knowing that I could "fix it in Photoshop" I pushed on and finished the session, but still wondering what was up.

That evening while I was looking at the results and trying to determine what went wrong I "clicked" as to where I went wrong. I had failed to set the Speedlights to manual! They were quite happily running in TTL mode and adjusted themselves for the ambient light levels, while my camera was set to manual to have the ambient light overpowered - which clearly was not going to happen. This is what led to my issue of underexposure on almost every shot.

Rest assured, I learnt this the hard way - if you have the camera in manual, INSURE you also have the lights in manual! TTL mode is great if you want to work with ambient light, but it doesn't work too well if you want to replace the ambient light with the flash output.