When you decide to take the step from natural light and start shooting with artificial lighting, you may not know where to start learning. Daniel and Rachel from Mango Street have teamed up with photographer Daniel DeArco to introduce you to the basics of studio lighting. And when they do it, it seems less scary and it will help you successfully take the first steps.
This time, Rachel and Daniel didn’t take shots, but they served as the models, and Daniel DeArco demonstrated two different looks of artificial lighting mixed with natural light. He used a Panasonic GH5 and Flashpoint XPLOR 600. He added a 5’ Octabox for Rachel, and he photographed Daniel both with the bare flash + reflector, and a strip softbox with a grid.
Of course, you can do quite fine with the speedlight and the camera you already own. Gear doesn’t matter in this case, as long as you learn the principles. Also, there is a bunch of DIY solutions for light modifiers. You can make your own flash diffusers, reflectors, and softboxes. After all, that’s why we are here.
Since you are already into photography, I guess you are familiar with the exposure triangle. Daniel expands it to the diagram he calls “exposure diamond,” and he includes the flash power into the equation.
Generally, the maximum shutter speed with flash is 1/250s, so you will have to adjust the other settings accordingly. Some cameras allow faster shutter speeds (high-speed sync), but you can learn more about it here and here.
Size of the light source
One of the basic principles is: the larger the light source, the softer the light. If you use it in natural light photography, simply think of it when you start using artificial lighting.
If you use large modifiers or bounce the flash off the large surfaces, you’ll get soft, spread light. If you shoot through a smaller modifier or with the bare flash, you’ll get harsher light.
Combining the natural and the artificial light
One of the principles Daniel emphasizes is to always prioritize one source of light. In his case, it was the natural light coming from a large window. For Rachel, he uses the flash only to fill in the shadows, and he sets up the power of the artificial lighting accordingly.
For shooting Rachel’s soul mate, Daniel first goes for a bolder look with harsher light and more power. You’ll notice that these photos are brighter and with harsher shadows. With the strip box on, he adds some moody look to these shots.
Of course, these are only some basic principles and examples. You can achieve a lot with studio lighting, and it’s like a whole new world opening in front of you. Take the first steps by reading the manual and some basic tips, and of course – practice a lot.
[Intro to Studio Lighting for Natural Light Photographers | Mango Street]