We went to the park for a picnic with barbeque and, as we all know, you can’t go for something like that without bringing your basic camera gear along. When I’m right, I’m right.
Actually I left one of my favourite things at home (you guessed it, my softbox) but I did so intentionally, I didn’t want to be tempted to use it in preference to my grids. The reason was that I wanted to give my grids a proper test drive in order to be a bit more familiar with them before our upcoming trip to Indonesia – I don’t want to waste too much time and opportunities on experimenting while we’re there, better to be at least a bit familiar with all my equipment before then. I wanted to see what kind of light quality to expect when faced with a situation where I might want more restricted light than the softbox can give me.
In this first shot of my wife I was holding the flash as far out as I could reach with my left arm. Unfortunately my arms are of normal length so the light is still fairly frontal. If I make use of this technique on our trip I plan to use an assistant (anyone who will work for free) in order to get more interesting angles for the light, since hard light from the front really isn’t all that nice. If we disregard the crappy angle of the light we can see that the grid produces a nice, smooth falloff at the edges. With a better angle this shot might have worked but I don’t think the grids lend themselves all that well to this style of under exposing the ambient, unless you’re going for a spotlight kind of look. Instead I think it might work better in combination with harder, more direct sunlight but I would have to try it out first. My main application so far for the grids have been for controlled rim and background light so I need more time to experiment with other possible applications.
This second shot suffer from the same problem as the first one: light coming in from pretty much head on (curse you short arms), creating a slightly flat look. The shadows are also quite hard but that’s to be expected when you use very restricted light like this. For those of you wondering: no, my daughter can’t climb trees yet, my wife is holding her from behind but she’s hiding behind the tree – and that bruise on her cheek was something she got when a table viciously attacked her while she was checking its density with her face.
One thing I think both shots could have benefited from would be warmer light. Because of the way I edit the pictures to get the background in the colour and tone that I want, the bare light from the flash ends up very white. With some cto gel the light would look a lot less sterile. Of course it all depends on what look you’re after but in the shade and when under exposing the ambient like this, I really think some warmth would look better.
It’s a good thing I tried this now so I know what doesn’t work and hopefully I can do some more experimenting both with the softbox and the grids before the time comes when I have to get it right on the first try. I can see my vision clearly but making it come alive in the actual photos will definitely be a challenge.