Combining flash with ambient light isn’t always an easy thing to do, especially when you have to balance the exposure in a way so that you get a nice bokeh going in the picture. The flash, even when it is fired at its lowest power, can produce a blinding amount of light. Gavin Hoey shows us how to use a flash coupled with a string of holidays lights for some beautiful background blur:
The tools Hoey uses for the shoot include a camera, a flash (Flashpoint Li-Ion Flash) and a shiny surface. He also used an incandescent bulb as the subject and some holiday light chains in the background for the bokeh effect.
Adjust the Light’s Power and Direction
The problem with using flash, as already described above, is that even when at its lowest power the amount of light produced can be overwhelming. The Flashpoint can go down all the way to 1/128 of its full power. But even then this is the result that is produced:
So, how do you reduce the power of the flash even further?
A bit of feng shui ingenuity is what is needed:
It doesn’t take a genius to note that the background lights are inconspicuous. This happens because the shutter speed is 1/200 of a second. It’s not enough time for the fairy lights to be recorded on the sensor and to appear in all their glorious glitter. The solution is in reducing the shutter speed. Hoey changes the shutter speed to ¼ of a second and this is the result:
Use a Shiny Surface
Another problem routinely faced by photographers is the lack of background circles. In this particular case Hoey has a background setup with some holiday lights but they are not enough. The solution is a black shiny surface. This helps him to not only capture a reflation of the subject but also increase the number of circles in the image without any extra effort.
Make sure that the shiny surface that you’re using has been thoroughly wiped clean. Otherwise you will have an image full of dirt and dust and a lot of work in post processing.
Change the Bokeh Shape
Changing the shape of the bokeh is a ingenious way to add a bit of spice to your photos. All you need is a black card with the bokeh shape you like cut out in the center of it. Take a picture and voila! You have a new bokeh shape!
Watch the rest of the video for some cool editing tips for your holiday lights photos.
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