Lighting 101: Balancing Flash and Ambient, Pt 1
More than maybe anything, the quality of light in a photo comes down to the lighting ratio. On one level, it creates the whole look of your photo. On another, your lighting ratio will likely be the key variable in determining whether your paper can reproduce the information in the shadows. It’s all about the shadow detail – either you want it or you don’t. And you want to make the call on what reproduces in the paper.
Balancing with ambient is the same process, whether you are lighting an interior portrait or fill flashing a headshot outside. Always think in terms of balance instead of fill. The concept is less limiting. And it will not predispose you to use the sun as your main light when the strobe might be the better choice in a given situation…
Lighting 101: Bare-Tube-Style Lighting
One of the limits of using a small, shoe-mount strobe is that all of the pieces are integrated into the flash. Power, capacitors, flash tube and reflector – all wrapped up in a package the size of a small Subway sandwich.
Larger flashes tend to have a more “component” type of layout, with separate power packs, flash heads, tubes and reflectors. While this generally adds more weight and size, the fact that the reflectors are usually removable gives the big-flash guys the ability to shoot “bare-tube.”
Bare-tube (or maybe you have heard the more old-school term, “bare-bulb,”) means nothing more than having your flash tube sitting out there in open space pushing its light out into (nearly) a 360-degree sphere of coverage. I say nearly because there has to be some wire carrying power and triggering the flash. And that blocks some of the light in one direction….
Why is this cool? There are a couple of reasons.
First, you can light a room with one head, effectively spewing light in all directions. Two bare-tube heads, high and at 45-degree angles, will light one very crisp-looking group shot. (Just drop one of the heads down a stop or so to get a nice ratio.)