A number of people have asked me to elaborate on one of the pictures I posted to my 365 this year. Its one of the most simple tools I keep in my camera bag and one of the most useful.
It’s just a bit of black foam that can be found at any craft store or art supplies place with some Velcro strips around the edges. In general photography terms it’s a flag, or some object you use to block light. Either from hitting your subject or from entering the camera directly.
This used to be a tool I’d only bring out from time to time when I had a specific problem to solve. Thanks to a tip from Brian Mullins this tool has found its way onto my on camera flash when I’m forced to use it.
Lets start with a demonstration. First lets take a look at what we get when we do use on camera flash or a hot shoe flash pointed straight forward.
You can see that the exposure is acceptable and everything is lit. Problem is the light is very flat and not very flattering. Besides it looks like every other flash photo out there and who wants that. To fix it without using an off camera flash we can try a few things. Lets start by bouncing our light off of the wall to my left.
That’s a bit better. Now the light has direction giving the face some shape and its a bit softer as well. Overall much better, but it’s still a bit hot for my taste and you’ll notice if you look closely two catch lights. The main one from the wall and a smaller one from the flash head. This means there is still some direct light falling on the subject. Lets try using our flag on the side of the flash closest to the subject.
Now all the light is coming from the wall we bounced our light off of and none of it is coming directly from the flash head. The light is soft and doesn’t have any of the hot spots we were having problems with earlier. The effect is subtle but makes for a better and more flattering shot in my opinion.
I just wanted everyone to know how much my wife, my family, and I appreciate Jimmy. Sadly we met him because he volunteers for an organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. Something I feel he probably doesn’t tell others because his personal modesty won’t let him. Everyone in my family who was there commented on how wonderful the photographer was who came to help us through the most painful moment of our lives. In the most difficult of circumstances he was able to give us images to remember our boys that make me smile because they convey our love for them even at the same time they show our pain from loosing them. His compassion, respect, artistic ability, and warm heart have inspired me to pursue my passion for photography. I only hope that someday I’ll be at a point where I’m able to help another family in the same way Jimmy helped us.
I’ve included a video after the jump that will tell you more about NILMDTS and what they do. You will cry when you watch it, but it is very, very touching and conveys the importance of their work.
Mike Stimpson has clearly put a great deal of thought into how some of the most famous photographs were shot. So much that he’s recreated them using LEGOs! He even included links to how he setup each shot which is a fun way to learn a little about lighting as well. Just plain fun!