Experimenting With Daylight Flash

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Following my research into Martin Parr and Anna Fox I have been wanted to experiment with daylight flash. I am interested in how it give a three dimensional feel to an image by increasing the brightness of the foreground subject. I believe that Martin Parr also uses the technique to partially take natural light out of the equation which gives the photographer more flexibility to shoot the subject without too much concern over how they are naturally lit.

I have found a full sized flashgun and a diffuser (I use a Nikon SB-910 and a Rogue Flashbender reflector) too cumbersome to use when photographing in the street or in a casual setting. It is such a large rig that it also attracts too much attention. After reading a number of reviews I have purchased a Nikon SB-400 which is a fraction of the size, has head tilt and comes with a small plastic diffuser. This set-up is so small it is quite reasonable to leave it on the camera when out on a shoot and just switching the flashgun on when needed. Unlike the SB-910 the SB-400 has no controls but the amount of flash can be controlled on the camera.

1/125 at f/13, ISO 160

Fig. 01 1/125 at f/13, ISO 160

1/125 at f/11, ISO 110

Fig. 02 1/125 at f/11, ISO 110

In fig. 2 there is a noticeable increase in saturation although it also highlight the problem of including near and medium distance foreground. My grandson is reasonably well lit by the flash, his grandmother is not.

In fig. 1, with a single subject the lighting is far better.

1/125 at f/8, ISO 800

Fig. 03 1/125 at f/8, ISO 800

In fig.3 a different potential problem is highlighted. Because of the comparatively slow shutter speed any significant movement will be blurred. In this particular photo that adds to the picture but that will not always be the case.

1/125 at f/11, ISO 100

Fig. 04 1/125 at f/11, ISO 100

Fig. 4 is one of the best examples of the technique as it is not obvious that flash has been used but the subject stands out strongly from the background.

1/125 at f/8, ISO 100

Fig. 05 1/125 at f/8, ISO 100

Fig. 5 is the opposite effect with it being quite obvious that flash has been used but it is still effective as all initial attention is focussed on the subject.

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This second set is slightly different. They were all take behind the scenes at Trashion 2014, Sarum Academy’s annual fashion show of clothes made from re-cycled materials. Apart form one supervisor the hairdressers are all students undertaking a BTEC in hairdressing. There was still some natural light in the hairdressing room but, even with flash, I was using high ISOs to get a result.

1/125 at f11, ISO 1,800

Fig. 06 1/125 at f11, ISO 1,800

Fig. 6 is a good example where the foreground subjects stand out very effectively from the background.

1/125 at f11, ISO 1,250

Fig. 07 1/125 at f11, ISO 1,250

I like like the saturated colours and the subject in Fig. 7

Overall I am quite pleased with the results of both shoots, the small flashgun has just enough effect to focus attention on the subject and capture saturated colours but the best results were achieved on the sunny day outside.

 

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