Shoot: Single Flash & Reflector


Introduction to Flash for Dramatic Images


Lesson Info

Shoot: Single Flash & Reflector

So now the next one that I wanna show you, and you may have seen this before, but you can actually do a lot of work without using any expensive modifiers. You can do a lot of photography with just a reflector if you want. So I'm gonna produce a dramatic photo, starting with using one reflector, and one reflector only, and then we're gonna add in a second reflector as the fill light. So one reflector will be the key, shine the flash into that, and then the other reflector is the fill. Key and fill. Alright, I'm gonna put you to work here. Your job is to hold that. Can you handle it? Yep. Good job, impressive. So, one of my favorite tools again, is this guy here. Alright, this has got the reflector boom arm on there and if you wanna save money in your overall studio and your overall photography, I encourage you to buy one of these. It's adjustable so it'll go out to four feet or five feet, and it basically it has these little clamps on it that holds the reflector into place. It's a s...

uper useful tool. It's very hard to use on a windy set, so don't take it outside unless you have really heavy sandbags. But inside a studio environment like this, it works just great. The one tip that I would give you, is to keep the arm over one of the legs because if you don't, it'll flop over on you pretty quick. So, I'm always paying close attention to that. So, we're gonna set that in place in there. Next, is I need a light stand for my flash, so I'm gonna take off my softbox. There we go, put that down on the floor. And, we're gonna end up shining that flash right into the softbox. These are the greatest tools in the world. They come generally for free with your flashes, but basically screw that here on the top of your light stand and then you put your flash right into this plastic foot. And you call also set your flash on the floor if you need to. It's just a really flexible tool. Since the light source for this is gonna be this round reflector, I want that to produce most of the shape. And, I wanna kinda control where the light goes, so I'm gonna take off my diffusion dome and just basically shine that right into the reflector itself. And you're probably all thinking, this is kind of a lot of the same lighting that we use for other scenarios, and the answer is, "Yeah, you're right." But it's all about managing the shadow and the background. I know I made that point earlier. It's always about managing the shadow and managing the brightness of the background. I'm gonna pull out my little diffusion panel on the front to get a little bit more coverage, and I'm just gonna do a quick visual test, and just see if I'm kinda filling up that reflector with light. It looks close, close enough. It's a good starting point. Again, dramatic light. It's off to the side. It's a little bit in front, but we're gonna get some shadow off of that end of his face. I'm looking at the overall angles. I'm pretty happy with that. I'm gonna take two pictures here. One is with your right shoulder forward, a bit more, yeah, and then the other is kind of your body facing into the light, okay? So, picture number one. Great! And then we'll take another one, with the torso into the light. Actually, you know what? I need to look at the exposure and make sure I didn't blow out your face. Oh, it's actually, I really like that look. That's a nice serious look. I did good job on the exposure, that's nice. Look at his catch light in the eye, that looks pretty good. I gotta a little bit of catch light over here on this side of the face. You don't always need that for your dramatic shots, but then again, it shows a little bit of life. I really like that look, so I'm just gonna go with it. I'm not gonna make any changes to brightness. This next shot as I described, I'm gonna have him turn his other shoulder towards me. That's great. Nice, and bring your nose down a little bit, cool. Wait for that beep and then shoot again. Love it, and that background really adds a nice element to the photograph, more so than just the black seamless. I like having some texture back there for my dramatic portraits. Right on. So let's say you're photographing, here we're photographing a man, and we like that really dramatic look for men. Sometimes though for women and kids, we don't want it to be as stark. We wanna little bit kinder, gentler look to it, so we throw in a reflector on the other side to fill in some of the shadows. And to do that, I'm gonna use this reflector. Haven't used this one yet. Made by Rogue, Rogue Imaging. And, this is kind of taller and skinnier. More like a strip reflector. You've heard of strip lights? Well, this is a strip reflector. And this will kind of produce a long skinny catch light in his eyes. There's silver on one side, and white on the other, just like all the other reflectors that I buy. I like the silver and white combo. So for this, let me show you another tool. Here, would just hold onto it for a second? For this, I'm gonna use, a little reflector clamp, one of my favorite tools that costs only about $20. It's one of the great tools in the world of photography. Really it's an umbrella bracket, and on top of the umbrella bracket where you would normally put your flash, it mounts this little bracket in there. So, it's an umbrella bracket with a clamp. So, I'm gonna call it a umbrella bracket clamp reflector holder. Google that and see what you get. Alright, thank you. And it's super easy, you just hang your reflector, just like that. Another free set of hands in the studio, and because we are photographing a man, I'm not gonna go with the silver side. I'm gonna go with the white side, so just a little bit less reflection on his face. Gonna raise it up, so we get the catch light in his eyes, nice! One point I wanna make here. I haven't talked about it much today. When you're setting up your reflectors, especially your fill, you gotta think about billiards or pool. You know where the lights coming from, it has to reflect off of something, and then bounce back onto the subject, So, for example, if I did this, that's really not doing anything for me. It's perpendicular to where the light's coming from. If I did this, what's going on with that reflection? Well, the reflector is shining on the back side of his body, so I might get a little bit of light here on his ear, but that's not really what I'm after. Pay close attention to the positioning of your reflector, just like you would pay close attention to positioning of your key light. Let's see what that looks like. No changes to exposure, hopefully just fills in a little bit of shadows. Nice, chin down a tiny bit. Super! And now it should fill in some of that shadow information. Cool. And let's look at the catch light in his eye. It's real subtle. Real subtle, but you can see it there on that side. Photographers are always into catch lights. Some photographers like triangular catch lights, other type, like diamonds and like square, round. You'll develop your own style over time, your own specific look. For now I'm just kind of giving you some options. Alright, questions about that, questions about using reflector as your key and your fill? We did get one question about using color gels. If you put a color gel on that reflector, would it do anything to the color of light that's reflected, or would it be just? Yeah, so let's talk about gels. First of all, just so that everybody understands what that term is. I'm trying to think where my gels are. I think they're in a bag elsewhere. That's okay, I'll just answer it. Rhetorically. So a gel goes right here over the flash typically. And the purpose of the gel is the color of the light so that you produce certain effect, like a red color or a blue color. Another purpose of the gel, is to balance the color of flash so it matches your ambient light. Two weeks ago, I was photographing a fundraiser, and they had fluorescent lighting inside of the gymnasium, and I wanted to include a lot of the ambient light in the gymnasium, but the color of flash is way different than the color of fluorescent. So, you want your flash to match the color of the ambient, so I would put this fluorescent gel on there. So now, when I'm going around the event, the light on the subject is the same color as the light in the background. Okay, so the question from the internet was, what if we put a gel on the reflector? Well, that's kind of the wrong use of a gel, 'cuz gels are pretty small. Really what you'd want to do is just use a different colored reflector, and that's a great skill set to learn. There's photographers out there who are doing lots of neat photography with different colored flashes, and different colored reflectors, and it looks really neat for this commercial look. For this kind of high fashion look. So, can't really use a gel, but you could use a different color reflector. Awesome question, yeah? I think the question from the internet was more of if they wanted to use creative gels to get a softer look. Say you put your blue gel on your flash, and reflected it onto the reflectors, so shot blue gel, through the flash, on the reflector, the effect it would have by doing that or would it do anything? Yeah, it would totally do something. It would turn everything blue. That goes from creating what I would call a really dramatic photo to creating a very artistic style photo, right? So, yeah, you can use gels, in fact one of the guys, I think he's taught some classes with Creative Live, his name is Nick Fancher. He does some really cool work with gels where is he'll have red on one and blue on the other, and then the shadows fall on the backdrop. Its a really creative fascinating look. But for this type of photography, I'm not sure it's the right tool to use. Because everything will be blue, or everything will be red. And, I don't know, how do you look in solid blue? Haven't tried it. Blue man? You haven't been blue man before? No, okay, yeah. I love gels, I have a bunch of them, and I use them but not so much in this scenario. Great. I just wanna mention again for everybody that didn't hear, had a question about the backdrop. That's You can go there, check them out. They're beautiful backdrops. We're really grateful for how they help us out here at Creative Live, so make sure you check those out. They're high quality and really, really, cool when you get to feel them here in person.

Class Description

Creating a dramatic image for your client requires you to know how to manipulate lighting to set the mood for the photo. Photographer Mike Hagen will teach you how to use your flash to create an heirloom photo that your client will treasure for years to come. He’ll teach you how to use the flashes you already own in a new way that will create an interesting look to add to your portfolio.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Set up your flash to create ambiance.
  • Use various modifiers like reflectors, softboxes, and umbrellas with your flash.
  • Incorporate light shapers that will help create the mood.

Learn how to incorporate a new genre of photography into your business by becoming more confident with your flash skills.


a Creativelive Student