Between January 2000 and June 2008 I posted a large number of technique examples taken from my daily work to show how I used light in an era where digital cameras were pretty poor at ISOs over 800 or even 400 in the case of the venerable Kodak DCS520. These days flash is a creative choice rather than a technical necessity but the techniques still stand up.



One of the very first technique pages that I posted on this site was about silhouettes. I mentioned that they were great for keeping people anonymous where there were child protection issues and legal issues over indentifying people. On rare occasions you go to shoot a story and nobody is willing to have their picture taken - they don't want to be in the newspaper!

This was one of those occasions. The story was about a college where unemployed people were learning skills that culd not only get them back into work but help fill certain skills gaps in the workforce. This particular student was on a property conservation and restoration course and he was doing some brickwork in an old building. I used the LCD on my camera with a "test shot" of one of the PR people to prove to hime that I could do a decent silhouette and so he agreed to do a bit of work for the camera.

Pocket Wizards (other flash trigger systems are available) are wondeful things. They allow you to place flash units almost anywhere and trigger them effectively.

There is a Lumedyne head wedged between brickss behind the wall on the right of the frame and it is et to 1/4 power (50 joules) with the protective diffuser cap over the reflector both for safety and diffusion. It is pointed at the wall behind our man and there is a small piece of wood placed so that none of the flash strays onto him while he works.

My guess at the exposure was that it would be about f11 and so I shot a test frame at 1/250th at f11.

There was definitely no detail in the student but the background was still a little dark. I opened up to f8 and also pointed the flash head down a bit and shot a dozen different pictures on a 70-200 f2.8 L lens. The distance between me and the student seemed to relax him and he really got into being a silhouette working away in his hole in the wall.

After a while he relented and we shot some pictures which did identify him, but by then I had this and I was pretty sure that the image would not only run that week but also be a keeper for the archive appropriately keyworded.

Next... Two set-ups at the same time

Links: Subscribe to newsletter
  Back to blog home page
  My Portfolio
  Email Me
  New Technique pages
  Old Technique pages
  About Me
  In my camera bag
  The Strobist
  Jez Coulson's blog
  Photo This and That
  Drew Gardner - The Dark Art
  Zack Arias - one light
  The BPPA
Archive: July 2009
  June 2009
  May 2009
  April 2009
  March 2009
  February 2009
  January 2009
  December 2008
This web site is ©Neil Turner 2008. All content is protected by copyright laws in the European Union and in the United States of America. For further details, contact the site owner . For details of policies including diversity and privacy please contact us.