What can you do with one modified speed light?

For tonight's blog post (yes I would have rather got it out this morning but it's been a busy weekend)! I thought I'd share a quick tutorial on what you can do with one speed-light and one shoot through umbrella. I came up with the idea because I'm gearing up for a workshop I'll be teaching on using modified small camera flash this coming Saturday for a photo club in southern Saskatchewan. The setup is quite simple and easy to execute if you know how. So here now is the how.

Start by keeping your subject away from the background, setup one speed light on a light stand and attach a white shoot through umbrella. Next set your speed light to manual flash I chose a flash power of 1/16th (it's not as scary as it sounds). Raise the flash above your subject to a height of about a foot taller then he or she and angle the flash and umbrella down at a 45 degree angle. The light stand should also be at about 45 degrees to your subject. So much for the flash now onto the camera setting.

Set your camera to manual mode (again not nearly as scary as it sounds) and pick your aperture. I chose f 2.8. Now set your shutter speed to an appropriate setting. In this case 1/160 of a second. The ISO I chose was 200 (I like to shoot at the lowest ISO setting my camera will allow). The speed light was triggered by the camera's on board flash. Frame the shot and presto! One quick portrait shot with one light and one modifier. Setup time was about 10 minutes and I came out with a great shot that took only a minimal amount of effort! The shot works because of a couple of key points. The umbrella used in this image was only inches out of the frame. The other point is the closer the light source the softer the light and the faster the light falls off. Clear as mud? I hope not! It may sound counter intuative but it isn't.

Now granted this post may not be for everyone and I do concede it is for the photographer with a good working knowledge of your camera's basic controls. If you know that much then this tutorial is for you. I thought I'd talk about something a bit different this week so here it is. If you'd like to see more posts like this in the future or you have questions about what you've read, then please by all means drop me a comment or message in the form below. I hope you enjoyed this weeks blog post. Happy shooting everyone!

Ron