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Creating a stunning "Theatrical" Portrait using Flash

Equipment: Digital SLR, Flash, any lens from 35mm to 85mm, Camera Manual

Knowledge: Know how to put camera into manual settings

Time: Early evening after Sunset and preferably nice clouds

Believe me guys, using an on-camera flash is not as hard as it looks and if I can do it, you can. There an abundance of flashes out there now and if you want to get into flash photography, its relatively cheap. I have a range of flashes (speedlites) from Canon 600EX RT’s to Cheap Chinese imports and they all work fine. However, in my experience the quality and the repetitive consistency of light only comes with Canon & Nikon flashes.

This shot was of a good friend of mine who wanted to know how to mix background early evening ambient light, (that’s normal natural light) with a subject that was lit by a flash.

First of all let’s get the camera into fully manual, use spot metering (see your manual), don’t put the flash on yet and set the lens to AF or manual (your choice)

  1. set the ISO settings to 100 to give us the best quality image so we lose noise (speckles in the final image).

  2. Set the camera to 1/160th of a sec (This is a speed at which all SLR cameras will handle flash speed).

  3. Set the aperture to lowest F Stop e.g. F2.8 and take a test shot of the sky without your model in the frame.

  4. Look at the result on the back of the camera

  5. If the scene is too dark increase your ISO until you get the scene you want

  6. If the scene is over exposed increase the F stop until you get the scene you want

  7. Now put your flash onto the camera and put it into ETTL (This means its evaluating what light you need for the flash via the spot meter) ETTL means Evaluative Through The Lens.

  8. Pose your subject in the frame and take the picture (depending on how dark it is you may have to manual focus)

  9. Now your artistic freedom comes into play with how you want to light your subject.

  10. Use your flash exposure compensation within your camera (see manual) to either over or under expose your subject

Basically, you should have a great shot and something to mess with in post-production. Any problems please get in touch and Please like our Facebook page. @speedlitephoto

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