Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Faking Sunlight

Just a quick entry today. You can sometimes create a bit of visual interest by playing with the colour balance of your flash. A warming (CTO) gel can make the effect of low evening sunlight when your camera is balanced for daylight, or even sometimes "cloudy" white balance.

I had two layers to this photo. The first was the background, which included the sky and the tree. Short of some serious power flash at a ridiculous distance (to keep flashes out of frame), I wasn't going to light the tree. So the tree and sky had to stay relative in brightness. I opted for an exposure which was a little bright on the sky, but still kept some detail in the tree, albeit sufficiently little it's almost a silhouette. This was around 1/200s at f/9, ISO 100.

This left the hay bale with some detail, but still pretty dark in the frame. I firstly set up a flash on the right, warming gel on, pointing at the round face of the bale. Given the exposure at f/9, ISO 100, I was hitting 1/1 power to get it bright enough. It still looked a bit like flash though, so I stuck on a second flash at a lower level, clamped to the light stand. This put some highlights along the grass, and made it look more like sunlight coming through trees.

The last step was a little fill from the left on the outer edge of the bale, which was still too dark a touch. I opted for a un-gelled flash for this to match the colour temperature coming from the sky better, and add to the effect of low sun breaking through the clouds through trees to pick out the bale. I aimed the flash up a touch so it feathered the light on the bale, and didn't light the ground.

The important thing is to make sure you get the "sunlight" flashes to light the ground evenly enough to the edge of the frame so it looks like a very distant light source. Using the double flash helps achieve this look.

The end result, at least to someone not in the know, is what looks like sunlight on the bale.

Here's the three light setup. Pretty simple, but does the trick.

1 comment:

Blaise - Photographe Mariages Nice said...

Very nice and timely - I was exactly thinking about how to re-create the sun effect. Nice post as always. Thanks!