On-camera Flash For The Dance Floor
So, on-camera flash, that is right now, saying we're not set in our ways, maybe later this year or next year we'll be using off-camera flash, but right now the only way that we use our flash is on camera. And the only time that we really use it is on the dance floor at the reception. What that allows us to do is really freeze our subject while also capturing the light in the background. So, a few important points here. The first one is in terms of exposure, what we do is we get a proper exposure of the background, underexpose it by a stop or two, and then not really touch our exposure. The exposure, it doesn't matter what combination it is, is there to really control the ambient light in the background. If your subject is too bright or too dark, changing the exposure's not going to change anything, or it will, but not in the right way. So, leave your exposure for the background, and if your subject is too bright or too dark, adjust the intensity of the flash, because the subject, like ...
in this photo, is lit up by the flash. So if they're too bright, lower the intensity of the flash. Do not touch the exposure.
So does that make sense? Exposure basically is settings on your camera. It's for your environment. Your flash is for your subjects.
Yep, and then in terms of how we use the flash itself, well, we want to make sure that we give it the best direction possible. So in a photo like this, we would tilt it right and tilt it backwards. More often than not it's going to be tilted one side or the other. What that does is it sends the light in one direction and then comes back with direction. As opposed to having it straight up where it goes straight up and comes straight back down, creates not the most flattering light on the face. And also, doesn't give the same dimension to the light itself.
So you can see in this photo that it's coming from the right. 'Cause the light on her arm and on her face, the light on the back of her arm is a little bit darker than on her forearm. So, we know that it's coming in through here.
And so we bounce it in as many situations as possible, even if the ceiling is high or even if it's dark. It's just a matter of giving a little bit more power to the flash so that it does reach the ceiling and comes back down. We also really like it because it's so simple and it stays true to our documentary approach, and we can just stay focused on the moment, and keep telling the story as it unfolds without needing to fiddle around with any kind of setting and just keeping it very, very simple for ourselves.
Yeah, what's great is when something like this happens in a split second, this is a Greek wedding, I'm sure you recognize the plates. Everyone's crowded around them, around this guest, so your light follows you, follows the camera, and that's really key for us is that it allows us to not miss moments because our light is always coming with us. So I know what you're thinking. What if there's no ceiling? (laughs) Not my first time. So, I mean in this case, this is a tiny backyard wedding. I bounced the light directly behind me off of the garage door. So, yeah so in this case it was just bounced on the garage door behind me, and again it allows me to, the split second thing that happens, I'm not fiddling around with an off-camera light. My light is coming with me. It's consistent. It's firing off every time I shoot. So, yeah.
Again, giving that direction, same ideas as on the garage door, really sending the light to the far left of the frame, and letting it come back with that same direction. It creates almost like this natural light. Obviously, it's not as well-balanced in the raw file. The speaker might be a little bit brighter, there might be more light on the mother and the father who are having their moment, but in post-production we really even things out and make sure that we dictate where the viewer looks at the photo, and that there's the most light on the bride and groom and then it kinda slowly dissipates on the other subjects.
You know, post-production can save you to a certain extent, or help you, but it's important to not just be like, I'll fix this in post, especially when it comes to lighting like this. So, while Daniel was saying that things can be brought down and brought back, you don't want it to be too extreme. And if the flash is pointed this way, and the speaker's completely blown out, obviously, that's too far gone. We can't make that look natural afterwards.
Sorry, this is the, what I wanted to say, right?
In situations where there's absolutely no ceiling or a garage door to bounce the flash off of, it's really open air, what we do is we rely on the little foot card that comes out of the flash. Make sure that the diffuser stays tucked in. We put the white card back about halfway, and then click it one notch forward. I can't give you the technical explanation for this, but from trial and error, we know that this works. It gives us this kind of quality of light, which is a little bit harsher than a bounce flash, but it's still in the right ballpark for the way that we like our images to look. And again, stays in line with our very simple approach of just documenting and making sure that the lighting is very simple. It doesn't look quite as good when it comes out straight out of the camera, but in post-production we darken the edges a little bit more and make sure that the light is well-balanced on the subject.
I think what's really important is that you just have enough light on their faces. So, you don't want to be pushing that in post too much, but you also don't want it to be too blown out. So just finding that happy place for the lighting on their faces, and then that's a good place to go from there.