Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mimicking Natural Light

I posted this in the flickr Strobist discussion group months ago, and it got swallowed by "what can I doo on 2 flashh" posts, so I guess I'll post it here:

I can remember first trying to learn about gels, reading David's posts about balancing Tungstens, greens and fluorescents, and I found it a little difficult to wrap my head around initially. Mostly because I couldn't really visualize it. I had a hard time thinking of indoor lighting as "green".

Anyway, this is a real meat n' potatoes version of David's teachings, and perhaps a little more of an A to B to C simpleton's lesson - but something I think I might have enjoyed reading when I was first starting out. I'll leave the hard stuff to The Man

I've been meaning to post this for a week or so now, and David's recent entry on Gelling For Fluorescent inspired me to finally write it up. This is extremely simple take on using gels for light modification. I was trying also for the photo to appear as if it wasn't actually being lit by anything but ambient.

I was with my buddy Scott driving around rural Alabama - we came upon an old abandoned barn and thought we should go in and check it out. I immediately noticed an old window that had been painted over and was soaking up some really nice orange-ish yellow light. I thought it would be great for a photo.

I set up a couple of SB-26's around the room, to light Scott from various angles, and ultimately decided I wanted to make the picture look as is light was beaming in from the window onto him.

As you can see in this ambient-only lit photo, the window wasn't actually providing much light:


So, Scott's girlfriend was commissioned to serve as a voice activated lightstand, and hold an SB-26 above him "from an angle that would look like the light was coming from the window".

With bare flash, you can see the light is way too cool, and completely inconsistent with the light that would be coming from the window. It looks like he's just being lit with a flashlight - basically, you can just feel that it's not coming from the window - even if you know nothing about photography/lighting:

Too cool

So, easy solution: stick an Amber warming gel on the front of my SB-26, and voila! Nice, warm, light that looks as if it's coming from a window:

Just right...