Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Digital Photography

The Hot Shoe Diaries: A Place to Put the Light

  • Print
  • + Share This
Joe McNally talks about shaping the light from a small flash, particularly when things are complete chaos and you are trying to find beauty, simplicity, and composition both in your head and in your frame.
This chapter is from the book

A Place to Put the Light

  • WHEN I USE SMALL FLASH, I consciously look for things that look like light-shaping tools. face it, light comes outta these things in a fairly formless manner. You can send it to the ceiling or fly it off a wall, but when you set off an sB unit, light blows out of it kind of—everywhere.

Especially when you are moving fast and using the units without any light-shaping devices attached to them. Like, on a wedding day. Like, in the bride’s room while she is getting ready and tending to her two-year-old twins. Like, when things are complete chaos and you are trying to find beauty, simplicity, and composition both in your head and in your frame.

Off to camera left there was a bank of large bureau drawers running the length of the wall. In the middle, about chest high, was a shelf and a large mirror, topped by an upper set of cabinets. In other words, in the middle of this sea of shelves there was a roughly 2×4′ mirror opening. I’m sure Debbie, an extraordinarily beautiful bride, viewed it as a handy counter and mirror setup for makeup and hair. I viewed it as an impromptu softbox.

You know those little plastic floor stands that come with the SB-800 and SB-900? they’re handy. I popped my SB-800 on that stand, and placed it on the countertop, facing the mirror. Used another 800 on my camera hot shoe as the commander. Shot aperture priority, and the exposure pulled in at 1/15th at f/2.8, with +1 EV dialed in at camera. I had to tell the camera to overexpose ‘cause the meter was reading all those bright windows and underexposing the foreground. The windows blow out, of course, but all that backlight thankfully ended up fitting the high key, airy feel of the scene. I dialed my remote flash to a power setting that complemented and filled the existing light, but didn’t overpower it. Debbie played with the kids, who played with the veil.

The bonus was that the kids, being small, looked up at the veil and, of course, the light. I just let them play with both.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account