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Shoot: Position Your Modifier with intention

One of the biggest questions that novice Speedliters struggle with is where to put a large modifier, such as an umbrella or softbox, in relation to the subject.

To Start, Raise The Modifier Slightly Above Your Subject’s Head

In our world, light comes from above and shadows fall. (For a complete review, head to Chapter 5: Position Is Relative.) So, as a starting point, position your Speedlite slightly above your subject’s head and angle it down 30° to 45°. Depending upon the modifier that you are using, you may have to step away from your shooting position and look at the modifier from the side to truly judge the angle.

In Figure 19.5, you can see the silhouette of my Speedlite and RoundFlash Dish in the upper-left corner. Imagine that a line bisects the Speedlite and softbox. Can you see that it extends directly towards Kailee’s face? I choose this position so that the flash would light her face and fall off gently as it descended down her torso. Again, this is a starting point.

Push Your Mod In For Softer Light, Pull It Out For Crisper Shadows

The first part of the question “How near/far should the light stand be from the subject?” is answered by the view of your camera. If you want the softest light possible, then you push the modifier right to the edge of the camera’s vision. For crisper shadow edges (aka harder light), you pull the modifier away from your subject until your test shots show that you have the desired shadow edges. Remember that, as you move your light stand in and out, you will have to adjust the height of the modifier to keep it centered on the subject’s face.

Lighting Details

Environment: Vintage bar

Time of Day: Not a factor

Ambient: Dim tungsten

Speedlite: One 600EX-RT

Mode: Manual

Zoom: Zoomed to 20mm

Modifier: RoundFlash Dish

Distance: About 3′

Height: About 6.5′

Trigger: ST-E3-RT Transmitter

Camera Details

Camera: 5D Mark III

Lens: 100mm f/2.8L Macro

Distance to Subject: 8′

Exposure Mode: Manual

Exposure: 1by200.jpg″, f/8, ISO 800

White Balance: Daylight

Figure 19.4

Figure 19.4 Lighting diagram

Figure 19.5

Figure 19.5 The RoundFlash Dish was angled down from the left.

Figure 19.6

Figure 19.6 The RoundFlash Dish unfolds from a compact pouch into an 18″ softbox that straps onto the head of a Speedlite. As you can see, it creates beautiful light and shadow.

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