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11.Fill Flash Techniques - 0002

11.Fill Flash Techniques - 0002

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Published by Pamie43

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Published by: Pamie43 on Sep 18, 2008
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05/09/2014

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Synchro-Sun “Fill-Flash” Lighting TechniquesUsing Flash to control contrast
The thing that stands out to me most prominently, that gives away the experience level of anew photographer, is the failure to use fill flash to control contrast. Unfortunately,sometimes I see this in the work of new professional photographers, particularly in weddingcandid shots outdoors in the sun. Now, the client may not know what it is that thephotographer did, or did not do that made the photographs better, but they certainly willrecognize that one looks “professional” while the other doesn’t. Using fill flash to controlcontrast for those inevitable candid photos in the bright sun is just a fundamental techniquethat every photographer needs to know how to do.Many photographers, even those who have been shooting for many years, have a hard timecalculating the correct exposure when using fill flash. If you don’t know how to use fillflash, or have a hard time calculating the correct exposure settings, I hope to make thatprocess easier with the information I am providing here.I don’t like to use fill flash to shoot
 portraits
as the quality of the light from the small lightsource of the strobe is quite “hard” and tends to bring out the texture and white specularhighlights in the skin. Large, softer light sources such as the slightly overcast sky, the sky atdusk after the sun has set, or the soft box or umbrella in the studio, are much moreconducive to lighting portraits. However, for larger groups that have to be shot in thesunlight, as well as candids and action shots, using the strobe to fill the shadows is essentialto producing professional work.
The challenge with fill flash is to use just enough to fill the shadows, or bring them intothe range of the film, but not to overpower the natural light.
For group shots, or anysituation where I have the control to be able to turn the subject, I will usually have thesubject back lit, with their face in the shadow. That way they are not squinting. The idea isto bring that exposure close to the level of the sunlight. But I still want the subject to
appear 
 back-lit. (
Caution: Don’t forget the importance of using shade on the lens. This will beparticularly important when you are shooting in the sun with the subject backlit. Youmust keep the sun off of the lens.)
 To some extent, the level of fill is personal choice. You will find the look you like anddevelop your technique to achieve that look. In the two images that follow, the first hasmore fill than the second. Now in this case, the group was already in the shade and could
Fill Flash Lighting TechniquesPage 1 of 5Copyright (C) 2005, Michael N...4/1/2006
 
have been shot without any fill. However, I wanted to brighten up the faces some becausethere were some many distractions with the hotspots of sunlight all around the picture.In the two photos of the cheerleaders below, the first one has slightly less fill than whatmight be ideal, on the monitor I‘m working with right now, it is slightly dark. However, on
Fill Flash Lighting TechniquesPage 2 of 5Copyright (C) 2005, Michael N...4/1/2006
 
my monitor at the studio, it looks perfect. But the second photo has too much flash fill whenviewed on a monitor that is calibrated with the lab. The subjects are too bright for the rest of the picture.You may notice a couple of the girls on the left are near losing detail. (Of course this maynot appear that way on your monitor, but hopefully you will get the idea. You will notice inthe first shot that the grass in the large shaded area behind the group is lighter, or closer tothe brightness level of the girls faces. So, if printed a bit lighter for the skin, the shaded areasbehind will have a good amount of detail. When we brighten up the faces with the fill flash,if we have to print darker for the faces, then of course the rest of the print goes darker too.Including other shaded areas.One of the great things about digital photography is the ability to get the immediatefeedback and see exactly what is happening with the fill light to daylight balance.To keep a nice backlit look to a scene, I want to calculate the exposure for the on camerastrobe to be about ½ of an f stop less than the exposure for the sun.Using the f16 rule for determining exposure for sunlight, I then want to set the strobe to putout an ideal exposure that would be slightly less than (or equal to, if you prefer) what would
Fill Flash Lighting TechniquesPage 3 of 5Copyright (C) 2005, Michael N...4/1/2006

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