At the moment I have been taken pictures less and looking at light more, and experimenting with flash… I want to master better control over the light and get the light working for me… so I have been experimenting.
I started by using the grey card to set the exposure for the shot…I was shooting in manual, you can use a light meter, but I have been reading and watching on how to use a grey card instead… grey cards can be used for setting the colour balance too – useful video here:
Using the grey card I was able to accurately set the exposure for the background, behind the flowers – it was my garden, through glass, and I wanted to expose it correctly without blowing the highlights… I knew I wanted to shoot on ISO100, had the camera on a tripod, and I knew I wanted a wide aperture… the grey card led me to a 1/30sec shutter speed.
To light the flowers and to keep the ambient in the background I needed to add flash – this is with a round flash on camera and although my focusing is off with TTL flash and the add 1 of flash exposure compensation (recommended by the flash) the flowers are well lit.
I used the same settings for the camera, took the flash off camera and reflected it from an umbrella, focussed better and used the flash in manual – I want to learn about the power of the flash too.
My flash has high speed sync – so by reducing the shutter speed and increasing the manual flash by the same number of slots, I can darken the background and create a new image – the flowers and camera did not move!
Note to self: so increasing the shutter speed removes the ambient light if I have already determined by aperture and depth of field. High speed flash required! Otherwise you would have to reduce the aperture so it is smaller, but a draw back would be a change in depth of field.
Same flowers, same vase, but this time the light is coming from the window to the left, rather than behind the flowers, and you can see the room is full of normal room things, and there is a light on…. the ambient reading gives a shutter speed of 1/125 … but the ISO has shot up to ISO3200, enabling me to keep the shutter speed high … but I think the ambient kills the image.
For this shot, I introduced flash to the right, I zoomed in closer, and at 1/8 sec, some manual flash, the ambient is still similar to the above shot, but the ISO and aperture are back where I want it.
So to get a darker background, I need to increase the shutter speed at 1/30 sec… I can still see some of the lighting in the room.
1/800 sec, and the flash on high speed sync and the magic happens the background disappears and I can create a nice low key shot.
For me it is a question of repeating this often and keep practicing… the grey card method of recording the ambient is new to me… and I think at times will be easier for me than a light meter … and it makes sense with the camera’s histogram.