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Shoot: Speedliting a Silhouette

Sometimes turning your Speedlite at the background can create more dramatic light than when you aim it at your subject. For this shoot, I actually underexposed Arian to such an extent that he turned into a silhouette.

Use Zoom To Create The Background Pattern

Even before Arian stepped into the frame, I experimented with different zoom settings on my Speedlite to see how they would illuminate the background. If you want a broad, even field of color, zoom your Speedlite out wide (to 24mm). If you want a spot of light that dramatically fades to black, zoom it in tight (to 105mm). The hero shot at right was made with the Speedlite zoomed to 70mm. The hotspot of color is the result of the Rosco medium red gel firing onto the deep yellow wall.

Hide The Flash

Pay attention to the details when shooting silhouettes. I had to hide the Speedlite behind Arian’s leg and instruct him on exactly where to stand.

Sometimes Less Is More

When it comes to the intensity of the color from a gel, the more light you push through it, the lighter the color appears. So if you are looking for a deep, saturated color, remember to turn the power of your flash down rather than up. (I know this sounds backwards.)

Lighting Details

Environment: Empty store

Time of Day: Not a factor

Ambient: Very dim, overhead fluorescent turned off during shoot

Speedlites: One 580EX

Mode: Manual

Zoom: Zoomed to 70mm

Tilt: Straight up

Gel: Rosco Medium Red

Modifier: None

Distance: Pushed up to wall

Height: Sitting on floor

Trigger: Simple radio triggers

Camera Details

Camera: 5D Mark II

Lens: EF 17–40mm f/4L

Distance to Subject: 12′

Exposure Mode: Manual

Exposure: 1by160.jpg″, f/8, ISO 400

White Balance: Flash

Figure 19.32

Figure 19.32 Lighting diagram

Figure 19.33

Figure 19.33 My hero shot was made with the Speedlite power dialed manually to 1by8.jpg.

Figure 19.34

Figure 19.34 The set was two sheets of tile board pushed up to a yellow wall.

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