I never take the flash out of the studio situation. Why? I don’t know… However if I am photographing a wedding or an evening event I do .. so I really need to use my flash more to get creative with it during the day. I also tend not to shoot manual – so today I went manual, I experimented with beech leaves in a forest enclosure to see what I could achieve with my flash.
I experimented at first with creating a dark background in nature and then adding light. Manual mode ISO100, F8, 1/200sec worked well.
I soon spotted how vibrant the autumn leaves were on that setting, so I experimented with the ISO to add some ambient lighting to the background – it was overcast, with ambient lighting you eye is drawn to the brighter leaves but you get more of a sense of place.
When the pony appeared on the path before me, I was not ready to take a photo – ISO 400 captured the ambient light, F11 gave a good depth of field to the image – but 1/13th sec was too slow a shutter speed for the horse, however having the flash mounted on my camera almost saves the image as it gives a sense of movement as the horse moves along the path. It was have been best if this was taken with the flash on rear sync – so that it flashed as the shutter closed, but I am just please that I understand the concept!
I was using ETTL flash and letting the camera choose, with the flash diffused and bounced on camera – I am using the canon 560 speedlite. If I dialed down the exposure the colours of the leaves were much softer.
If I turned the flash off, switched to AV mode, at ISO100, I was unable to freeze the leaves at a similar depth of field – the colours look much duller as well.
If I increased the ISO to capture the ambient light and use the flash I am able to create catch lights in the photo buddies eyes, and really separate him from the background.
If I see something tiny in the undergrowth (compare the toadstool to the pine needles) and the bounced flash enables me to handhold at a quick shutter speed and pull out the details.
I came away thinking I need to do this more often, I can make backgrounds disappear by turning them really dark – perfect for occasions when there is a lot of clutter in the background and I want to focus the viewers interest, and I can catch lights to ambient light which makes the photos more interesting – if I practice more.