Getting the most out of one speedlight

MichaelSewell

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Lets talk budget stuff. One speedlight. What can we do with one speedlight? Well, in this instance, we used it to create a nice directional light which defined the texture and shape of the dress. View attachment 503513

The speedlight was firing through one of those cheap folding softboxes. The 60x60cm variety with the most basic of brackets to attach the speedlight. Now, there was a standard lamp off to the right that had one of those strong orange glows to it, from a tungsten bulb. Strong enough to tint the gown, even when the ISO was turned down to 100 in an attempt to kill the ambient.

To combat it, I attached a CTO gel to the front of the speedlight using a stofen type diffuser and then re-attached the speedlight to the softbox. I then set the white balance to tungsten, to match both the standard lamp and the gel'd speedlight.

Due to the low ISO, I had to fire the speedlight at ¼ power, even though it was fairly near to our bride. It was also hand held, rather than placed on a light stand, and it was above head height, frame left and angled down towards our bride.

1/60th sec ISO100 f3.5

Whilst the speedlight here was triggered by a basic radio trigger system, you could manage to get around that by using a long sync cord or even trigger the speedlight optically if you have an onboard flash set to manual and turned down to 1/128th. This way it won't add to the image, but would trigger the main flash.

A basic speedlight and folding softbox should cost you £60 or less, but the results can increase your appeal exponentially.
 

Repp

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Curious questions:
First, did you bring your shutter speed down to 1/60 after putting the gel on to bring back some of the lamp light in the dress?

Second, does the hotspot on the wall (above and left of her face) mean the light was not centered on the model's face, but more feathered back?

And finally, for the little folding softboxes, do you still use both diffusers w/ the stofen?
 

MichaelSewell

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Curious questions:
First, did you bring your shutter speed down to 1/60 after putting the gel on to bring back some of the lamp light in the dress?
Pretty much.
I originally had it slightly faster when I noticed the colour cast from the lamp. After geling the speedlight, I found the speedlight was marginally warmer than the lamp, but not much. Slowing the shutterspeed just balanced the two a little better.


Second, does the hotspot on the wall (above and left of her face) mean the light was not centered on the model's face, but more feathered back?

Voice operated lightstands are a variable element when shooting these scenes. You can set the scene and shoot three consecutive images, and all three can have a slight difference in the fall of light. Sometimes it creates pleasant surprises, and gives you one image that stands out. Occasionally it can be frustrating when you try to adjust one element, and something else moves. I try not to use VOLs anymore (This images is quite old).
In answer to your question, the softbox had swung a little more towards the panelling as the VOL had stepped away from the wall. Originally, the light had been closer to the wall, but had caused quite extensive dark shadowing on the far side of the bride. This was before I noticed I could make use of the lamp.

And finally, for the little folding softboxes, do you still use both diffusers w/ the stofen?

Yes. Although it does depend on the size and shape of the box. The stofen will create a bare bulb effect, filling the box much better. The inner diffusion panel aids the diffusion and does add to the filling of the box to an extent. However I have found the use of the stofen creates a much better spread of light as opposed to none stofened boxes. It can be seen as a brighter centre to the lit area when no stofen is used.
 
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wjiang

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Very nice definition on the dress! It's kind of classical sculpture-like. The shadows on her (e.g. under her chin) are quite dark though. I wonder whether a bit of selective reflector fill would have helped?
 
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MichaelSewell

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Very nice definition on the dress! It's kind of classical sculpture-like. The shadows on her (e.g. under her chin are quite dark though). I wonder whether a bit of selective reflector fill would have helped?

Between you and me, nowadays I would have done it differently. More lights etc.
This was from quite some time ago, and I had the one speedlight and a single softbox.
With experience, and the same equipment, I would now utilise anything that would have bounced some light back under her chin, even a small amount. And that could have been a spare white table cloth etc.
Also, I would now do more in post to mitigate such dark areas. I deliberately left the image as it was originally processed at the time.
 

stagor

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Here I have used a single speedlight, on camera and bounced off a neutral coloured wall top left, I was trying to give the impression of a single window light.
75mm f2,8 1/160 iso200
 
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