How to Achieve Three Portrait Styles With One Flash

So you’ve got a speedlite. Now what? A lot of photographers only use their flashes in one particular way, switching to different lighting rigs for different effects. But with one flash, you can actually achieve a number of different looks, simply by swivelling it around. Here’s how:

Mark Wallace is hosting this video with his Leica M Digital Rangefinder Typ 240 and an attached Leica SF 64 flash. He starts with a standard shot, with the flash pointing forward, to create an atmospheric portrait, full of contrast:

simple model shoot

Then he swivels the flash backward, pointing it behind him at a white wall, so it floods the room with white light. The shot has less contrast and the background isn’t as interesting, but Wallace bumps up the brightness to compensate (since, as you can see, the camera settings are identical), and it creates a very different type of shot:

budget studio photography

For the last type, he has his model face left, and points his flash in the same direction. Once again, the camera settings are the same—f/8, 1/180 shutter speed and ISO 200. Only the flash direction is changing. Against a side wall, the flash is bouncing off the white and creating a whole new lighting scenario, a bit softer than the first one but with more contrast than the second:

creative photo lighting

There’s one caveat to these tricks: they work best with white walls and a small space. If a room’s too big, the light won’t travel, and if the walls are a certain color, the light won’t bounce properly, or it will pick up some of the color on the model’s face.

For Further Training on Flash Photography:

Learn how you can take professional photos with off-camera flash – the new, easy, inexpensive, portable way to take professional photos without expensive studio gear.

Found here: The Flash Photography Course

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