Outdoor light is perhaps one of the most beneficial things when it comes to working with flash. With the help of an external battery pack (that can power two lights in one) you have the ability to travel anywhere and take flash shots.
But, you don’t always have to use outdoor flash; natural light during the earlyish morning or lateish evening can provide a wonderful light on the subject.
One of the uses of using outdoor lighting is that you can make the subject stand out from the background (making the subject lighter/background darker.) So either changing the shutter speed or the aperture can achieve this by a few stops.
We had a few tests before hand to see what changing the shutter/ aperture would do to a picture. So in this image we introduced flash to the subject at 90˚ on the left. This was to create a harsh, gritty light on the subject so that it would look dramatic.
However one thing to note when using outdoor flash is that it’s better to change the aperture then shutter speed. Any shutter speed lower then 1/60th will show camera shake, and higher then 1/250th will begin to show the shutter.
We then went off and took our own pictures to test the lighting kits outside.
In our first image we experimented with freeze flash – when there is movement in the image the flash freezes the motion and this is what we did below.
The light was placed slightly over to the right of Alex at a fair distance under the subway.
Alex then jumped and the flash froze his movements creating an interesting image.
In our second image we moved under the subway so we were mostly relying on artificial light.
In this image our set up was a light very high to the right of Alex and this casted strong shadows over his face and clothing creating an anonymous figure that looks unapproachable and urban.
This look has been caused by the strong shadows that hide Alex’s identity which makes the viewer feel uneasy.
Our third image was a similar set up again but alex is turned away from the light which illuminates his clothing well but he is hiding his face and identity which is again creating an uneasy atmosphere. His position is also creating a large shadow next to him which is almost like another person and this is all created using just one light.
The light has highlighted the texture and shape of his clothing, especially on his arm.
If we had used a light full on to him it wouldn’t have created this effect or any of the shadows that have caused this moody urban atmosphere.
In the last 2 images we were just using artificial light in a undercover subway (no natural light can be seen) this gives us hints at the viewer that we are not outside and in a claustrophobic space which adds to the atmosphere of the image. Because of the lack of natural light it might also suggest that this was taken at night. Our first image feels much more open because the sky is visible and the time of day/weather is obvious in the image which creates a nicer atmosphere – not so closed off.
Balancing natural and Artificial light makes flat dull days like this day much more interesting and really brings the model forward and separates him from the background.
Another method of using outdoor lighting is using a flashgun on top, or with the camera. When it is on top of the camera, it is only limited to where you are pointing the camera. So this is more useful when it comes to shooting portraits:
However, with the right equipment you are able to equipped a flashgun to a tripod, meaning you are able to position it in various places that you wouldn’t of been able to light in the first place:
In this picture, the flashgun was located behind the door so that when the light went off, the light would be pushed via the door into the room via the crack, illuminating the subject in a very soft light.
This is much more easier to use then a whole light kit (plus it saves having to carry around a whole bad) so it is something to invest in if you have the money for the accessories and tripod.