This weekend I took a few minutes outside with my youngest daughter, Ciara, to try out a bit of fill flash practice. This is something I have always struggled to master in the past. Basically, when shooting portraits outdoors, for example, it is often difficult to balance the exposure on the subject’s face with what can sometimes be a much brighter background or sky. If you expose for the background the subject in the foreground can be quite dark. On the other hand, if you expose for the face the background can be blown out or at least horribly over-exposed. Thus, fill flash does exactly what it says on the tin, it provides some extra fill lighting to the foreground, allowing you to expose correctly for the background. You simply measure the correct exposure for the background, as if you were taking a landscape shot perhaps. You then focus on the subject’s face and use the flash to brighten the foreground. The key is getting the correct balance of flash to provide a natural looking light. Too much and the background looks dark compared to the foreground, and vice versa. These photos worked reasonably well, but it took a bit of experimenting and a good few poor results. Ciara was not really posing for the camera, just acting as a subject so I could realistically balance the exposure, but these two work OK I think.
The other trick is getting the colour balance right. These both turned out a bit warmer than I expected, although the sunlight was quite low and a bit warm so not far out from reality. However, as always, I just had to try them in monochrome, first straight black & white, then sepia and in the case of the profile shot a mock Holga film style which I really like (see below). A bit more practice required with more interesting compositions and we'll see what that leads to - more to follow he said cryptically....
I am an amateur photographer who is also a Chartered Geographer with his own part-time consultancy business and I work as an estate manager for a national conservation charity in Scotland. I am based in Lochalsh, Wester Ross, Scotland, just next to the Isle of Skye.
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