Friday, April 13, 2012

Learning To Use Unnatural Light

Learning to use an external flashes can open up a new door of creativity, because you have more control over the direction and intensity of the light in your image. If you haven't used a flash very often, like me, because you shoot outdoors in situations where a speedlight isn't always effective, you're not alone. Although learning to use a flash for lighting your subject might not be the most interesting subject for you, it is still a good idea to have a basic idea of what to do, should the occasion arise that you have to do so. If you are like me and only have one flash, don't loose heart you can still be creative with it (more so if you can use it off camera).

I recently picked up a basic set of lighting equipment to help learn to take advantage of a SB-800 and the Nikon CLS (creative lighting system) that works with many Nikon DSLRs (like my Nikon D700). The kit consists of the:

  • Cameron 4 section, air-cushioned Light Stand
  • Phottix Varos BG Umbrella Holder
  • Photoflex 30" Convertible White Umbrella (has a black cover that can be removed)

After some experimenting I realized that this kit works well with the D700 and the SB-800 wirelessly via CLS. That is all well and good, but I also realized that I would want some continuos lighting as well. There are several reasons to consider a continuos lighting system, first and foremost, heavy use of a flash will lead to the bulb in the flash burning out. Second, who wants to sit around all day recharging batteries after taking a few hundred shots? Third, you can see where the light will fall before you start shooting, and finally you can create softer, more even light without breaking the bank (if you take some cost saving measures and are willing to put some time into some less conventional methods).

I haven't completely put my continuos lighting kit together yet, but I think I may have a lighting solution: 2 Philips 65W equivalent LED lights (because LED lights are good for video vs compact florescent bulbs ), a light socket splitter and a light socket to power plug adaptor. Right now I'm working on a way to rig this onto my light stand, and I've got a friend working on a clamp that will fit into the head of my Phottix umbrella holder.