Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Chasing the Sunset

BethOne of the things I've wanted to try over since becoming enamored with the Strobist style of light play is balancing my flash with twilight. I've attempted a few times over the last nine months but was never happy with the results. Instead, I've tended to focus more on getting the exposure correct for my subjects and not worry about the background.

Monday evening led me to try balancing the twilight again. This time, I nailed it. I was at the retirement party for a coworker (Beth). Quentin and I brought our lighting gear because we wanted to get a few good group shots for Beth of her family, coworkers, and friends. They came out pretty well. I did the lighting setup and Quentin did all the people wrangling; group photos are certainly harder than I expected. We ended up shooting out in front of the house we were at because there wasn't a great place to put 40+ people.

DavidAfter we got the group photos nailed, we all went inside and a round of retirement gifts got opened. Many photographs ensued. I noticed the sunset was streaming in through the large pane-glass sliding doors and knew I needed to try hitting twilight again. As people left, the sun dipped down over the horizon painting the sky this pretty shade of pink. Out on the deck, I quickly poked around for a spot that was right, found it, and setup a single white shoot-through umbrella. I had to work quickly as the light was failing rapidly. I grabbed David, the first person I saw, stood him in front of the flash and popped off a few shots to dial in the power. Before I knew it, I had photos of most of my coworkers up against a brilliant cloud-peppered sky.

I was surprised how quickly and easily this came together. First, I exposed for the background. 1/250th looked about right for what I wanted after chimping a few shots of just the sky. Next, I moved David into place and popped a shot off with the flash. I still had it set at 1/2 power from the group shots which blew him way out on his right side. I cranked the power down to 1/16, feathered the umbrella back a bit on his right side, and popped another two or three shots to make sure it looked good and ... VoilĂ  ... instant balance.

Here are other photos from this particular setup. In all, it was about 5 minutes of setup and 10 minutes of shooting. A good haul in my opinion.

Jackie, Huong, and Melissa
David and Sue
Quentin and Francie KellyHuong
Jackie and HuongGreg and Tara
Dean and ChrisChris

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