One of the things I’ve learned from running around the city taking pictures of Suki for my 52 week project is that natural lighting doesn’t always cut it. Bringing some basic lighting equipment along with you when you go out, however, can let you take control of a situation in which the existing light just won’t give you a nice photo. Take this series of images, for example. Strolling around one of my favorite areas of the city, Suki jumped up on this long platform along the sidewalk, and I immediately had a shot in mind. I lined up my camera and took the shot below, a test image to see what the camera was thinking about the scene:
Meh, no shot here. The lighting is flat, and not coming from the direction I need it. Notice that the bulk of the light in the scene is coming from behind Suki. As a result, she’s dark. With no directional light on her, the subject of the photo, she appears flat and one-dimensional. Boo…
Fortunately, I had my SB-900 speedlight with me. Fired it wirelessly at Suki from my left through a small piece diffusion material, and the difference was dramatic (top image and below). Notice that she now has increased color, dimension, clarity, and separation from the background.
This is what I love about Nikon’s CLS, or Creative Lighting System. You can carry portable speedlights with you anywhere, and it’s like bringing the controlled elements of a studio out into the less-predictable field. Firing multiple lights wirelessly and getting your desired exposure is incredibly easy with CLS, as the camera does most of the thinking for you. It also helps to have a subject that is used to having her picture taken!
Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC // SB-900 Speedlight off-camera
See another shot using this setup HERE