Off-Camera Flash (OCF) Basics
Two-Light Setup – Outdoors
The next step in mastering OCF (off-camera flash) is to add additional lights for drama, emphasis, separation, and over-all image quality. If this is a new concept, read my previous entry about using one speedlight for off-camera flash.
The Concept of Building Light
Lighting a subject is probably one of the most important aspects to portrait photography. The ability to control light is fundamental and builds upon previously learned principles. Proper exposure is proper exposure. It doesn’t matter how many lights are involved, measure the light to ensure proper exposure. The process for adding a second light is exactly the same as adding the first light. There are just a few more things to consider:
- Identify what light source is the ‘main’ or ‘key’ light. This can be the sun, a flash strobe, a speedlight, a constant light, etc. This light provides the main amount of light to your subject. Measure this light and set it (if possible) to illuminate the main parts of your subject.
- The second light is the support or kicker light. It provides additional light to the subject, the environment, or anything else that should be illuminated. This light can be a fill light, a rim light, a hair light, or a background light.
Note: Since I am working with mobile lights, I am able to set the lights to a certain power and then adjust the power by moving the lights closer or further away from the subject. A good rule of thumb is every 4ft from the metered range is 1 stop difference. If I bring the light 4 feet closer, it adds 1 stop more power. If I move the light further away 4 ft, it lowers the power by 1 stop.
Measuring for Multiple Lights
In the example above, the lovely Holly Hedrick shows us that holding umbrella-ella-ella can be pretty sexy. The lighting I chose was meant to be dramatic and show texture. Side lighting (or mostly side) would emphasize this mood.
Here’s how I measured for this scene:
- I took a reading (with my Sekonic light meter) of Holly in the environment. The sun was going down and I was losing light fast. I honestly don’t remember the overall reading, but it would be close to f/4 @ 1/60s at ISO 400 or so. Right off the bat, I realized the background would be under exposed since I needed Holly reading at f/5.6 or f/8 and I was totally fine with that (1 to 2 stops higher).
- The main light was set to f/5.6 and I used a higher ISO and slower shutter to allow more background in the photo.
- My next choice was how to set the kicker (secondary) light. I decided to have it rim the side of Holly brighter than the main light. I set this light to f/8 and adjusted the light position to get the amount of light I wanted. I still could have tweaked the light a bit, but the overall effect was accomplished.
Here’s another example
By adding modifiers to flash strobes, you can alter how the light is controlled. In the example above, the key light (camera right) is fitted with a large (4ft) softbox while the background light is fitted with a wide snoot, green filter, and a grid. The idea is to have the main light ‘wrap’ the subject in light while the background light adds separation against the background.
Off-Camera Flash Basics One Light Setup - Outdoors One of the basic necessities for the modern photographer is to master off-camera flash (ocf). Even if you're using a single light, this skill is immensely vital for photographing in a range...
Tim Truelove is an experienced portrait photographer in Crandall, Texas. Tim’s also a father, husband, and an active member in his church in Rockwall. Tim also belongs to the following professional associations: PPA (Professional Photographers of America), DPPA (Professional Photographers of America Dallas Chapter), AIBP (Association of International Boudoir Photographers.