Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Play Time...

The girls and I are enjoying the casualness of holiday break mornings. They have made full use of PJ time and have enjoyed playing with their new Christmas gifts. I have done a lot of reading and have stayed busy working on studio promotion materials. Cartoons have been watched. Coffee has been drank. It's been lovely.

This morning I decided to do some reading on the ins and outs of good flash photography. I hate using a flash. Partially because I much prefer the shadows and highlights created by natural light, where as I feel like flash shots often seem "flat". Partially because I have not taken the time to really learn how to work with my flash to maintain a feeling of depth while appropriately filling in light when needed. My standard shoot wide open in natural light approach doesn't always serve me well...and if I'm going to start shooting portraiture I'm not always going to have perfect light available. So I best learn how to use my flash to help get the images I want in any lighting situation. Here are some test shots from this morning. These first 4 shots are straight out of the camera...the only adjustments made were to image size for easier web posting.

First here's a shot taken without flash, with a wide open lens, using only the ambient light of the room.


The problems: The back light of the widows is blown out and because of a low shutter speed there is a bit of blur due to camera shake. Yet what I love is this is really what the scene looked like...shadows and highlights and all.

Next up, a shot taken with my camera in full program mode using my flash with a diffuser and angled at 45 degrees like I take most of our indoor shots.


For me the flattening has started to occur and the windows are still blow out.

I've been reading about using the manual mode to both capture the ambient light of a space and use flash to throw light on your subject. Generally shots taken this way look natural and well lit...and is the effect I'd really like to be able to produce on a regular basis. But it's going to take a lot of work, time, and experience. Here is a shot taken without a flash that properly exposes the widows behind the girls...



And then using that same information I let the flash fill in the fore ground bouncing it (diffuser on) off the ceiling straight above me rather than at a forward facing 45 degree angle.


Better, I think. I'm still not in love with the look but I have to remember I haven't done anything to this shot in terms of adjusting contrast, highlights and shadows in post processing. Mostly I'm happy about the general lack of any harsh flash shadows and the more balanced exposure over all.

I'm also still trying to decide where my post processing style lives. This first picture is adjusted simply as I normally would...a little boost of contrast, brightening of highlights and deepening of shadows to create some depth...


Then I added some sharpening using an MCP action...


And finally I added a little "flair" using an action from The Coffee Shop Blog...


While I like each of these for different reasons, I'm not sure which I'm drawn too the most. What do you think? Which look is your favorite?

OK, play time needs to come to an end...we are officially out of vegetables in this house. A trip to the grocery is in our very near future...like as soon as I get showered and dressed!


peace

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi, Jenn. I would love to take the time to play with using a fill in flash more. Instead, I'll comment on your commendable work. In this particular instance, I like the first shot with natural light and no fill in flash the best. The curtains are not really important, and the fact that the background is bright and overexposed does not bother me. The lighting seems to add to the feel. That said, there are plenty of situations where learning to use the fill in flash is so valuable. I haven't taken the time to figure it out w- my new camera. In the last series, I'd go for something between 2 and 3. 2 doesn't seem to have quite enough contrast, so, if forced to choose between the two, I personally prefer 3. -Amy

Kate! said...

How brave you are to begin tackling flash photography! It scares the crap outta me! I find that it flattens stuff out, so I just turn it off. Can't wait to see what else you find!