When you’re near the equator it’s pretty much inevitable that you’ll go to the beach a few times, so today we’ll take a look at some photos that were taken on one such occasion. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that our trip was during the wet season, which meant that the sky was usually covered with clouds, even when it wasn’t raining. I was hoping for good light on at least one day at the beach but instead I got a lot of practice shooting in poor light.
My models for the day were two of my wife’s cousins (not the one in the previous posts, she has a lot of them), who were anything but camera shy. We started shooting as soon as we got to the beach since I knew that the light would only get worse. It was fairly early in the morning so the more we waited, the higher the sun would get. It doesn’t look very bright in the photos but there’s still a lot of light that needs to be overpowered by the flash, and having the sun higher in the sky would just make that more difficult, sun or no sun.
We started out on a log and I shot my two models in slightly different styles.The light is the same for both of them, two LP160s in an octabox, but the balance with the ambient is different. The shot just above here uses a slower shutter, allowing more of the ambient light to come through to create a brighter look. Even though the sun can’t be seen because of the clouds and the light is very flat, there is still some direction to it. To be more precise, it’s coming from camera right, which is why I also put my own light over there. There isn’t enough ambient to work with it as a a rim or backlight in any meaningful way, so instead I chose to enhance it by lighting my subject from the same direction. I like to believe that the result looks natural but at the same time it also gives the subject a lot more shape and depth than the ambient alone would have managed.
In the shot above I’ve moved the light to the other side and here you can see that the sun actually is providing a bit of rim light. As the sun was moving higher we also moved to another location a bit further down the beach. That’s were I got the shot at the very top of this post. If you look at her outstretched arm you can see that the sun is now pretty high and behind her. It was also getting brighter. I would have liked to shoot a bit wider but I just couldn’t get enough power from my flashes to move the light farther away from the subject.
Both flashes in the octabox were at half power and I was syncing at 1/500. The radio triggers I’m using can sync at 1/1000 but I start to lose flash power if I go faster than 1/500 (because of the radio latency). If I push the flashes to full power I still won’t gain much because that makes the flash duration much slower than the shutter, so the full flash pulse won’t register. It can become quite a complicated little dance. I’m also at f2.8 with a 3-stop ND filter, so I’m effectively asking the flash to expose at f8. Still, it’s kind of impressive that these small flashes can be used at all in a situation like this and it’s all thanks to the leaf shutter of the X100S. A DSLR with its slow sync speed wouldn’t have been able to get these results without a more powerful flash.
In the shot above one of my flashes had run out of battery but I didn’t notice that until after we were done – I did wonder a bit why I wasn’t getting the exposure I wanted though. As a result it looks like it was just an available light shot but you can still see that the flash gives shape to her face. Not the look I was after but I guess it still works, though next time I’ll make sure to check the equipment if I’m not getting the results I’m expecting.
Until next time.