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Friday, May 9, 2014

Easter Sunday: Using Soft Light In Practical Situations

130mm, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/250th, strobe 1/2 pwr,
Summarizing today's post: Capturing family memories, off-camera (soft) lighting, & a few photo tips for practical situations.

Easter memories always bring me to a happy place. As a young boy we have always celebrated this happy occasion with family get-togethers. This tradition has stayed the same throughout my lifetime in fact. As life happens and schedules change, the number of family members who can come home varies. But we always get together one way or another to celebrate and remember that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead so many years ago.

This year, Easter Sunday was a little different because it was raining outside. But we made the best of it, having a family day indoors. It all worked out very nicely and we had a wonderful time. I (of course) brought along my camera to capture a few of these memories.

I'm going to sidetrack today and share some photographs I took of my family enjoying themselves on this special day. We'll get back to the topic of using multiple strobes later on, I promise. 

This is an important post for you guys who want to actually apply some of the principles that we have talked about thus far in a real-world application. Mainly, I wanted to show you what I do in lieu of taking outright snapshots. This little trick works superb for on.

Okay, first shot (above) is of our little boy walking into Grandma and Granddaddy's kitchen and seeing what they got him for Easter. Look at the expression on his face! My God it was absolutely priceless. I knew that there would only be about 2.5 seconds that I  would have to take a photograph of him before he grabbed up his goodie bag, so I wanted to be ready.

I had a single (bare) strobe set on the kitchen table off to the left and pointing straight up at the ceiling. This created a huge light source right above him (remember apparent light size?). I had already taken a couple of test shots to adjust the power of my light to 1/2. This rather high power was necessary for 2 reasons. I had the ISO sensitivity on my camera set at a low 200 (I wanted the best quality photo) and also I was using indirect lighting (bouncing light off the ceiling). Set up, I was ready. Shot #1 a success!

shot at 70mm, ISO 200, f/5, 1/250th, strobe at 1/2 pwr
Shot #2 was -- quite literally -- just a few seconds later. Gavin had picked up his bucket of candy and money and was clutching it to his chest. Precious. How can you NOT smile at this picture? Makes you remember when you were a little one yourself I bet. 

I was able to capture this image because he and I were positioned very close to where we were in the first photograph, so no changes were necessary in settings. If he had of walked to the other side of the kitchen -- or even a few feet away -- I would have had to adjust a few things (namely, where I had my strobe situated).

This setup works very well in indoor applications where the people who you are shooting are in relatively close proximity to one another. When you set your shutter speed to 1/250th of a second, you quickly make your strobe the only light source that contributes light to your frame. That gives you, the photographer, control. And easy? Once you have your settings where you want them, it is just as easy as taking snapshots...except the quality of the image is so much better. 

Here are a few more photographs I took on this special day. Note that the only thing I did different when I moved around the room (or when moving out on the porch) is tone down the power on my strobe from 1/2 to 1/2.5 to adjust for more light colored (reflective) surfaces in the room. And then all I had to remember is to place it (my strobe) somewhere between me and the person who I was shooting.

At left below, my Mom & Dad. They are laughing about something or another! At right is my pretty wife and baby brother (not so baby...he's taller than me!)

52mm, ISO 200, f/4.8, 1/250th, strobe 1/2.5 pwr
40mm, ISO 200, f/4.5, 1/250th, strobe 1/2.5 pwr

40mm, ISO 200, f/4.5, 1/250th, strobe 1/2.5 pwr
Lastly, here are a couple of photos of my parents and Gavin playing around on the porch just before having to head back home. Priceless. 

The only real lighting difference on these last two, is that I placed my strobe on the right (camera right, that is) instead of the left. It's still pointing straight up, illuminating the whole ceiling just above them. One big, huge light source. Nice and soft.

35mm, ISO 200, f/4.5, 1/250th, strobe set at 1/2.5 pwr

It's actually pretty amazing that we got Gavin to sit still long enough for a picture, being he was so wound up on candy (and just the thrill of the day in general). It didn't last long tho, as you can see in the this last one.

"Got to go", he says!

What a nice day, as short as it was. Family is so important to me. Sometimes we take each other for granted, and that should not be. I challenge you to tell that special family member that you love them today.

Thanks for reading!


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