Fill Flash Basic: Exploring Photography with Mark Wallace


Hi everybody, welcome to another episode of Exploring Photography, right here on Adorama TV, I’m Mark Wallace hanging out with Alejandra, you probably remember her from our gobo video that we shot a couple weeks ago in the studio. Well we’re outside today and I’m going to show you a very easy way to balance our ambient light with a studio strobe. When you have a flash on your camera you have two exposures, one exposure is the ambient light, that’s the light that you can’t control, that’s everything in the sky the Sun and the clouds, and all of that stuff, we can’t control that light, we have to make sure we set our camera to make that properly exposed. The second exposure we have at the same time is our studio flash. So I have a little flash right here behind me, we can’t control that light, so what you need to do is first set our exposure for the ambient light, and then match that with our studio strobe and everything will be all good. So the first thing I’m going to do is shoot a photo with no flash at all, and so what I want to do is, we’ve got all these these features, these clouds and stuff in the sky, I want to make sure I expose that, maybe a tiny bit underexposed, so what I’m doing here is I have my camera set to manual mode, now this will work with any camera Sony, Nikon, Canon, Fuji film, it doesn’t matter, this will work so set your camera in manual mode. I have my ISO as low as it will go, ISO 100, and then I have my camera set to my camera sync speed, that’s one 1/160th of a second for my Leica M 10. If you’re not sure what sync speed is, don’t worry, Gavin Hoey just made a really fantastic video about sync speed. I put a link to that video in the description of this video, so you can check that out. So ISO 100 sync speed now I need to figure out my aperture value, to do that I’m just going to look through my camera, use the built-in meter, and then figure out what it tells me the proper exposure is. So I’m doing that right now, making some adjustments, and it is telling me I have a proper exposure of f/4, so I’m going to take a photo really fast, look right at me Alejandra, perfect and well as expected we have a lot of light coming from behind, and so Alejandra is under opposed, we expected that, so we need to fill in that. The underexposed parts with a flash, that’s what fill flash is called, so I have a studio strobe right here behind me, this is a Profoto B2, and what I need to do now is meter this light so that it matches the exposure that I already have, which is f/4, so I happen to have a light meter right here I’ll turn this on. Luckily for us Alejandra is a photographer as well, so she knows how to use this meter, so I’m gonna give this to you, and now I’ll grab my little trigger really fast, I’m gonna put that on my camera, and I’ll do that, it’s metering at f/4.5. I’ll take the power down just a hair, just like that, just a little bit more, I want it to be about 4, ok now we’re at 4, we’re metered at f/4 which is perfect. Now if you’ll notice, I have no light modifier on my flash at all. We’re gonna start there, so you can hand me that, now let’s take a shot, and see how this compares to the original shot that we took, so again look right at my lens here, beautiful, gorgeous, just like that, turn it this way with your eyes just toward me, there you go, I love that, awesome and now we can see that Alejandra is popped off of the background simply by adding this flash. Step 1 – Meter for the ambient light with your camera. Set all the settings correctly for that. Step 2 – Meter the flash to match that setting and then start shooting. So now we’re gonna take a few pictures what I’m also going to do here is, I’m gonna let the sun go down a little bit, we’re gonna add a softbox to this, so we can soften up the light, but the principles are always the same. Meter for the ambient light, then meter your studio strobes so that it matches, and take some photos, one of the things that I noticed when I was shooting is that, I had a very hard light, and so we’re getting some specular highlights on Alejandra’s face which made her look shiny, even though she’s not, she’s got great skin, her makeup is perfect. So what I did is I changed and added a Profoto, 2-foot octa box, that’s just gonna soften up the light, and makes things less specular, and so that’ll make you not so shiny. That’s one of the tricks for any flash, make the flash larger, and you’ll get less shy and less specular highlights. The other thing I did is, I ditched my tripod because I want to be able to move around and get this entire scene, and specifically I want to do that, because I’m shooting with a 35 mm lens, which it’s not usually a portrait lens, but I want to get the background, and the scene, and all of Alejandra, and it’s just looks sort of cool. So the first thing we need to do because we switched our light modifier. Is to meter, remember, I’m shooting still at f/4 ISO 100, 160th of a second, so let’s meter this really fast Alejandra. So we’re looking at that, it is metering at f/3.6, so I’m just going to add a tiny bit of light here, I’ve got a remote control on my camera, this is a Profoto Air Remote, and so I don’t have to actually touch the flash at all, we’re now metering it f/4, everything is set, and now I can sit back here, make sure I’m all focused up and what I want to do is, perfect, I want to take one photo without, and one photo with, so that pose right there is the perfect pose. So we’re gonna do that without a flash, so this is without a flash, beautiful, and then here’s one with a flash. Same exact thing, you can compare these two, and you can see clearly that adding that flash adds the punch that we need. It’s just perfect, easy, alright now, I’m going to do something that’s sort of counterintuitive, I was shooting with a 35 mm lens, I really like that, but I’m gonna go even wider, so I just switched to a 28 mm lens, which is something you would never use with a portrait, we’re gonna see how it looks alright, let’s just see what happens, This is not something I would normally
do, totally counter intuitive, but it I think it looks better, so let’s keep shooting, some of that. In fact I’m gonna get close. Well I think these photos look really wonderful Alejandra, and it’s very, very simple. You have to just meet her for the ambient light, and then adjust your flash so that it matches, and then take shots. The other thing that we have to remember to do is, take some chances, so we took a chance on a 35 mm lens, which is a little bit wider than a normal standard 50mm or 70mm or something like that, but then we went the opposite direction and used a 28 mm lens, and that even worked, and so I really like how this is set up, and how it works. Try this at home, you can do this with a speed-light, you can do this with a studio strobe, you can do this with just about any kind of camera that you have. It just works, it’s really simple, and really fun. Hey thanks for joining us. Don’t forget to subscribe to AdoramaTV. It’s free and also turn on the bell so you get notifications, and please follow me on instagram, I’m posting behind the scenes photos and videos of all the photo shoots and stuff that I’m doing. Alejandra you can also follow her on instagram – she is a photographer, and a model, and so I’ve put links to both of those Instagram accounts in the description of this video.. so you can check out her stuff, she’s a really, really good photographer. So make sure you check out her work, alright? Thanks again for joining us, and I will see you again next time!

15 Replies to “Fill Flash Basic: Exploring Photography with Mark Wallace”

  1. Hi Mark could you share the location/city? Beautiful poses Alejandra Restrepo..keep on smiling 🙂 Excellent video thank you.

  2. I've been watching your content for about a year and a half and it is always informative, Mark.

    You seem to have the same light meter as I recently purchased (Sekonic L-858) and perhaps you could help me with something? When I am in my (very) small home studio and I want to use the cordless flash mode, I switch to it (little blue lightning bolt icon), press the measure button and fire my flash and while it gives me a reading the unit seems to remain in the measuring mode (the little blue bolt icon blinks and the screen stays dimmed) so as I move the unit away the flash reading changes to something that looks like an ambient room reading (really low f reading). I thought once the flash had been detected and the measurement given the unit wouldn't attempt another reading unless I re-pressed the measure button?

    Sorry for the long post, but if you, or anyone reading this, has any ideas I'd be grateful to hear them.

  3. It's good to know you are in Colombia. Medellin is such a beautifull city. But I must warn you, Mark. Be carefull. Each year so many travelers fall in love with colombia (some of them not just with the country).
    Greetings from Bogota. Great video. Great model, so beautiful, so talented. I really like that profoto B2 you use. Great portable flash.

  4. Maybe she can explain to you that you aim to the light and not to the camera hehehehehehehe
    Why wouldn't you use a 28 mm for portrait, with a FF of 24 MP or more you have enough information to crop.
    Just don't go to close on an angle.
    Good video though, well done, thanks for sharing .

  5. Seeing Alejandro sitting on the edge of the roof made me really nervous. Great shots, especially the 28mm ones.

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