A large and spacious room is ideal for this shoot. It doesn’t need to have good natural light – the darker the better in fact – and you don’t need to worry about cluttered backdrops, as only your subject should be visible when you exclude the ambient light.
Get set up
For this shoot a standard zoom lens will give you plenty of versatility. You don’t need a ‘fast’ portrait lens with a wide maximum aperture, as we’ll be using ﬂash to light our model rather than relying on natural light. As we’ll be shooting with an external ﬂashgun you’ll need a light stand or tripod to place it on, using the mount supplied with the ﬂashgun.
We want to eliminate as much of the ambient light as possible, so forget about exposing for your subject for the time being. Set a low ISO of 100 to retain maximum quality for smooth, noise-free shadows, and set your shutter speed to the maximum ﬂash sync speed, which is 1/200 sec (1/250 sec on higher-end EOS cameras). Start with a wide aperture value, such as f/5.6, and take a test shot.
Narrow the aperture
If the scene is still fairly light, dial in a narrower aperture and take another test shot, and repeat until you’ve eliminated all the ambient light and the whole scene appears dark. You can use the histogram to help you; ideally there should be just a few lines of pixels clipped at the left-hand edge of the graph to indicate a heavily underexposed scene.
Now we need to set the camera’s pop-up ﬂash to trigger our external ﬂashgun. Select the ﬁrst shooting menu, scroll down to ‘Flash control’ and press ‘Set’. Next scroll down to ‘Built-in ﬂash func’, press ‘Set’ and then scroll down to ‘Wireless func’ and press ‘Set’. You want to select the third option here, to ﬁre just the external ﬂashgun.
Test the ﬂash
Set the ﬂashgun to Slave mode (refer to your manual for how to do this), and make sure your camera and ﬂashgun are set to the same channel so they can communicate; the default channel on your camera is 1. Set your ﬂashgun to Manual, and place it in front of your model to one side. Set the power to one-quarter to start with, take a test shot, and increase the ﬂash power if your model appears underexposed.