Forums > Photography Talk > Dark Location Background

Photographer

PhotoPower

Posts: 1368

Elmsdale, Nova Scotia, Canada

It's be a shoot on an overcast day in the historic district and I want to keep the background darker than average, and shed some gentle fill light on my model from a Speedlight mounted to my Canon 7d. I'm thinking my best option is to put 7d on manual and get a nice under-exposed backdrop, bring in model, and manage Speedlight (580exII) with exposure compensation. Is there an easier way with the same gear??

May 17 13 02:10 pm Link

Photographer

Good Egg Productions

Posts: 15708

Orlando, Florida, US

PhotoPower wrote:
It's be a shoot on an overcast day in the historic district and I want to keep the background darker than average, and shed some gentle fill light on my model from a Speedlight mounted to my Canon 7d. I'm thinking my best option is to put 7d on manual and get a nice under-exposed backdrop, bring in model, and manage Speedlight (580exII) with exposure compensation. Is there an easier way with the same gear??

I don't think the words speedlight and gentle fill light go together.

But given your gear, I don't see an easier way to do it.

May 17 13 02:18 pm Link

Photographer

PhotoPower

Posts: 1368

Elmsdale, Nova Scotia, Canada

That's so funny Good Egg 'cause that looks like a camera-mounted flash on your DSLR in the photo of you in your portfolio here on MM! How fast we forget to be humble as we rocket to the heights, Good Egg!!
You're moving quickly through a heavily populated area with cool historic building as a back drop and a fantastically attractive model who wants some edgy and old urban setting for her new outfits just purchased in Europe ... fumbling with changing light with camera in manual is okay if your sitting on a beach in Florida drinking beers waiting for the light to get right!!
Any real photo-journalists out there with some suggestions??

May 17 13 02:48 pm Link

Photographer

ThomasBlanchardFineArt

Posts: 222

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US

PhotoPower wrote:
It's be a shoot on an overcast day in the historic district and I want to keep the background darker than average, and shed some gentle fill light on my model from a Speedlight mounted to my Canon 7d. I'm thinking my best option is to put 7d on manual and get a nice under-exposed backdrop, bring in model, and manage Speedlight (580exII) with exposure compensation. Is there an easier way with the same gear??

I do this with a Gary Fong Lightsphere thing all the time to add a catchlight and provide a little fill.  You should get nice results.   If nothing else use the built it bounce card.

May 17 13 04:04 pm Link

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Photographer

CHAD ALAN

Posts: 3808

Los Angeles, California, US

PhotoPower wrote:
That's so funny Good Egg 'cause that looks like a camera-mounted flash on your DSLR in the photo of you in your portfolio here on MM! How fast we forget to be humble as we rocket to the heights, Good Egg!!
You're moving quickly through a heavily populated area with cool historic building as a back drop and a fantastically attractive model who wants some edgy and old urban setting for her new outfits just purchased in Europe ... fumbling with changing light with camera in manual is okay if your sitting on a beach in Florida drinking beers waiting for the light to get right!!
Any real photo-journalists out there with some suggestions??

I don't think Good Egg meant it as a slight, but in any case... smile
See if you can diffuse the flash with some ripstop nylon, some way to make the light source larger, or bounce off a wall or reflector.

But I am one that likes hard light so I think you're good as is.

May 17 13 04:54 pm Link

Photographer

Good Egg Productions

Posts: 15708

Orlando, Florida, US

PhotoPower wrote:
That's so funny Good Egg 'cause that looks like a camera-mounted flash on your DSLR in the photo of you in your portfolio here on MM! How fast we forget to be humble as we rocket to the heights, Good Egg!!
You're moving quickly through a heavily populated area with cool historic building as a back drop and a fantastically attractive model who wants some edgy and old urban setting for her new outfits just purchased in Europe ... fumbling with changing light with camera in manual is okay if your sitting on a beach in Florida drinking beers waiting for the light to get right!!
Any real photo-journalists out there with some suggestions??

Really, dude?

I hope no one offers you a single word of help at this point lest they be attacked for daring to give you an opinion.

What I was saying is that a camera mounted flash won't give you a "gentle fill light" with a dark background.  It's a simple case of size.  The xenon tube is VERY bright and comes from essentially a point source, essentially inline with the lens.  This will give you a HARD light that will create shadows that are difficult to control.

On a sunny day, you need a hard light to battle the hard light coming from the sun.  And that would describe the image you see me in.  What you didn't see was the AB800 I had to the side if the SB800 on my camera wasn't strong enough.  I was shooting a calendar in the Keys, and needed to overpower the sun.

But you said DARK BACKGROUND and overcast skies.  For a gentle fill light, you want to modify that flash with some kind of diffuser.  The larger, the better.  I make them based on this tutorial I found.
http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Gar … ghtsphere/

Hey, look at me, still being helpful even though your very passive aggressively insulted me.

I almost never find myself in that bizarre situation you described above.  Very few of the models I shoot shop in Europe.  Even still... I would take a moment to actually compose the images and make sure my lighting both fits the environment and makes the fantastically attractive model look her best.

Sort of like this.
http://photos.modelmayhem.com/photos/091102/18/4aef98fb3382c_m.jpg

That was shot with a strobe and a softbox to create that gentle fill light.  It probably would have looked like crap with an on camera speedlight.

HOWEVER, when I was in Vegas shooting BTS for the Tropic Beauty calendar this year, I DID use that DIY thing on a flash with the bright sun and the photos came out pretty great.

But you do it how you do it.  I'm sure you'll be happy.

May 17 13 06:12 pm Link

Photographer

B R U N E S C I

Posts: 25319

Bath, England, United Kingdom

Good Egg Productions wrote:
I don't think the words speedlight and gentle fill light go together.

+1

Get an off camera flash if you want to shoot something worthwhile.




Just my $0.02

Ciao
Stefano

www.stefanobrunesci.com

May 17 13 06:41 pm Link

Photographer

Gulag

Posts: 1250

Duluth, Georgia, US

PhotoPower wrote:
It's be a shoot on an overcast day in the historic district and I want to keep the background darker than average, and shed some gentle fill light on my model from a Speedlight mounted to my Canon 7d. I'm thinking my best option is to put 7d on manual and get a nice under-exposed backdrop, bring in model, and manage Speedlight (580exII) with exposure compensation. Is there an easier way with the same gear??

or just shoot flat (without much contrast) because you can easily increase contrast and darken the background in post.

May 17 13 06:46 pm Link

Photographer

me voy

Posts: 1093

Amherst, Massachusetts, US

PhotoPower wrote:
That's so funny Good Egg 'cause that looks like a camera-mounted flash on your DSLR in the photo of you in your portfolio here on MM! How fast we forget to be humble as we rocket to the heights, Good Egg!!
You're moving quickly through a heavily populated area with cool historic building as a back drop and a fantastically attractive model who wants some edgy and old urban setting for her new outfits just purchased in Europe ... fumbling with changing light with camera in manual is okay if your sitting on a beach in Florida drinking beers waiting for the light to get right!!
Any real photo-journalists out there with some suggestions??

I am a real photojournalist and my advice is shoot in manual.

One way to do this with one speedlight is to put the model in a shadow and have the background lit by the sun. Bounce the light off a white foam core. The light will  be spread out more. You probably have to set your speedlight to manual.

here is a sample: http://mediacompass.org/blog3/wp-conten … FR1895.jpg

May 17 13 06:55 pm Link

Photographer

Greg Brown Photography

Posts: 97

Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

Getting the Speedlite out of the camera hotshoe is pretty much the key I think. I usually have an assistant hold a small disc reflector against their chest and hold the remotely triggered Speedlite so it bounces off that. It also works if they wear a white t-shirt then you don't need the reflector! This setup is a lot easier for me to manage than light stands, softboxes etc in a crowded street environment (I work in Tokyo...) Up to now I've only used manual flash settings especially now since my pocket wizards don't support the 1DX, but I'm starting to experiment with E-TTL optical master/slave (and it seems really good).

May 20 13 04:51 pm Link

Photographer

MMDesign

Posts: 18647

Louisville, Kentucky, US

I couldn't get past the "It's be" part, sorry.

May 20 13 06:29 pm Link

Photographer

OTSOG

Posts: 141

Benicia, California, US

Aperture priority, compensated 1.5 or 2 stops under, FEC to taste with the 580 in ETTL. Get the strobe off camera with a TTL cord or trigger if you can.

May 20 13 08:52 pm Link

Photographer

Alien LiFe

Posts: 846

San Francisco, California, US

If you are shooting on an overcast day (cloudy) ... I think one 580EX will be strong enough as a fill to light your model ... and as few suggestions above, an OFF camera flash will yield a better result, you might need to play around a bit with that ... smile

Another thing to consider, you might want to put some light modifier to your flash. Maybe a small soft box like HONL Traveller 16 or Photek Softlighter II or even that small thingy from LumiQuest will work fine ... I think.
Heck, try it without light modifier to see if you can nail it with bare minimum gear ... more power to you ! smile

I did this all the time when I shoot outdoor ... If your ambient light stays the same (usually on an overcast day, the quality of light stays the same for few hours) then it's easier to play in Manual mode as you don't have to worry about the your f/stp & your flash sync in shutter speed, otherwise you can do it in AV and utilize those Exp. compensation feature (with your shutter speed locked in hi-sync mode ... which I don't know if Canon 7D has this feature or not , though) if you think the ambient light shift from time to time ...

Check your ambient exposure ... determine your f/stop & S.Speed value for it and drop it 2 stops to darken the background ... and adjust your flash power (in Manual mode for easier operation) until you get the best result ...

Here are sample with the same technique ... one light off camera inside a Photek Softlighter with (around) 1/4 or 1/8 power & dropped the ambient light about 2 stops to knocked down the background brightness ... Not difficult, just need some trial & error ... smile

http://photos.modelmayhem.com/photos/130518/10/5197bfd704c1a_m.jpg

http://photos.modelmayhem.com/photos/130428/18/517dd3d27e282_m.jpg


Hope this help & happy trying ... smile

May 20 13 10:38 pm Link

Photographer

afplcc

Posts: 6000

Fairfax, Virginia, US

PhotoPower wrote:
It's be a shoot on an overcast day in the historic district and I want to keep the background darker than average, and shed some gentle fill light on my model from a Speedlight mounted to my Canon 7d. I'm thinking my best option is to put 7d on manual and get a nice under-exposed backdrop, bring in model, and manage Speedlight (580exII) with exposure compensation. Is there an easier way with the same gear??

Try using a snoot on the speed light so you're directing light just on the model.  Or bouncing the speed light off of a reflector.  And then place the model some distance from the background.  And if you really have some shoot assistants, than set up two giant pieces of black poster border on either side of the model (but out of view of your lens) to cut off ambient light to the backdrop, reduce light from your speedlight hitting the background, and absorb light behind the model.

Ed

May 21 13 07:50 am Link