The Seneca @ York Independent Digital Photography Program is a two-year diploma course that prepares students for a freelance career and provides them with the necessary skill set to work in a multidisciplinary studio. Photo Life is proud to partner with Seneca students to document their journey through the school curriculum. Follow them each week!
Class: Photography III
Assignment: Mixing Ambient and External Light Sources
Student: Jackie Laine
Professor: Ray Steinke
Assignment guidelines: Photograph a person using a mixture of ambient and external flash.
Background: This assignment is all about using a few simple tools that will take your portraits to the next level. Mixing the available ambient light source and using your external flash off camera gives you more control over how you light your subject. For this style of photography, you need to have a DSLR camera, an external flash, a light stand, a light modifier (in this case I used an umbrella), a light meter, a sync cable and radio slaves. Having these pieces of equipment in your kit will be extremely useful, especially in low-light situations, and is usually a more portable lighting solution than a strobe lighting kit.
Process: Exposure is all about finding a balance. The first step in this process is testing for the exposure of the ambient light; this will be controlled by the shutter speed. If you are shooting in a low lighting situation you may need to start with finding a balance between the ISO setting and shutter speed. In order to avoid grain in your image, you want to try and keep your ISO at the lowest setting. Only raise your ISO if you are experiencing motion blur due to a slow shutter speed. When trying to test for the lighting of your external flash, use the aid of your light meter. A good place to aim for is an exposure of f/8 to ensure your subject will be in focus. The aperture will effect the exposure of your subject. (Hint to remember: Shutter speed controls the background—aperture controls the subject).
Conclusion: This technique is a great way to start taking better photos and gain balance when lighting your subject with minimal equipment.