Monday, 24 March 2008

When nature and technology meet

If you went down to my local woodland this last weekend, you would have seen me putting some equipment through its paces in this outdoor environment - specifically, I was playing around with wireless lighting. As many will know, I am a big fan of the countryside and when I get to combine this with photography and call it 'work', then all the better!

It's often nice to travel light, taking the minimum amount of equipment to a shoot, and modern technology really supports this approach. The picture above (view larger) was shot with a very simple set-up - one camera and two portable flash guns.

Thanks to nature lending a hand, only one lighting stand was required as I used what's known as a Super Clamp to attach the second flash unit to a branch. These things really are so versatile and I always keep them in my portable lighting kit; they will attach to virtually any surface, so long as there is some form of lip jutting out or an object which they can wrap around.

This kind of 2-light arrangement is a great way to add depth to pictures, and is ideal for profile and feature portraits in all manner of areas from corporate websites through to magazine features. And because there are no wires involved, there is much more freedom and versatility to be had in any given space. In fact, we are now able to remotely trigger our lights and cameras at ranges up to 1600 feet!

My somewhat basic diagram here should give you an idea of the setup as seen from above. As you can see, Flash 1 is the main light source (combined with the natural light) and Flash 2 creates a nice rim-light down the subject's left side (as viewed), which helps to distinguish him from the surroundings.

Using a complimentary or meaningful background adds colour and interest to pictures, at the same time holding the viewer's attention longer than if a dull backdrop or flat lighting were used. The whole idea of creating photographs is most often to show the subject in an exciting, compelling or distinct way - no matter whether it is a member of the family, your latest whizz-bang product or even a day-to-day object that you wouldn't ordinarily give a second glance to.

Photography - and photo shoots - should be fun. And by keeping on our toes with such matters as new technology and lighting techniques, we can ensure this is the case.

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