Ambient vs. Direct Flash vs. Bounce Flash | Transcription

Now, this is the first of several videos where I’m going to show you different bounce techniques to take this on camera flash and basically turn it into studio quality light. And you’re going to find that it’s so incredibly simple. In fact, it’s so simple, that’s why we say really there is no need, there’s absolutely no need to use direct flash unless you’re doing it for stylistic purpose. Which is what we did in Chapter 5. Chapter 5 was all about stylistic use of direct flash and modification. And we learned so much in that usage and in the modification of that light. Now we’re going to take those same principles and we’re going to turn it into bounce flash and we’re going to learn even more.

So, what are we going to do? All we’re going to do basically is bounce off of something. We’re just going to turn the flash now so it’s no longer being directed at our subject and we’re going to bounce off different modifiers around us. And this is what this chapter is focused on, is what these modifiers are going to do. Starting from the top with a V-flat. Now, in this video we’re going to be using what we refer to as a V-flat. What is a V-flat? I have a lovely piece of paper to demonstrate because an actual V-flat is actually quite large. A V-flat is typically around 8 feet tall, by around 4 to 5 feet wide and so I really can’t hold it up with one hand like I could this piece of paper. It’s just a large piece of foam. Generally, it’s going to be white. It’s a neutral colored surface. If you get it from a camera store, it’ll have white and it’ll have black which is fantastic because it has dual purposes actually which we’ll talk about in a bit.

What you do is you take that large piece of foam and you cut it right down the center, and then you tape it together on both sides. And that way you can fold it open and shut and it’s going to be able to… Well, when you’re storing it away, you just close it up and when you’re using it on set, you’d simply open it and place it down and it makes a V. Hence, it’s called a V-flat. A V-flat is simply like basically a portable wall that can go anywhere with you, that can give you a large bounce, a large place to turn a modifier, to turn a light into a larger light. Okay? So, if you don’t have a neutral colored wall in your studio. Let’s say you’re working in a studio and like, oh my walls are all black or in the place that I work I don’t have anything like that. That’s what you get a V-flat for, because you can take this anywhere.

If you want to make a V-flat yourself. Well, generally, you do have to do a little bit of work, regardless. But, the cheapest V-flat you can get is simply by going… I don’t need this paper anymore. Get out of here paper. You can go to Home Depot. Pick up a piece of foam installation. It’s like 10 bucks for a large 8 feet tall by like 4 or 5 feet wide piece of foam. It’s going to be white basically on both sides and you simply cut that, tape it up in the center and you have aV-flat. If you want kind of a more robust V-flat that has black on one side and white on the other side, which is great for what we call flagging light. Flagging means that you’re blocking light in certain situations. And we’ll get more into that in like say lighting 201 and lighting 301. But if you want one of those, it’s like 20 or 30 bucks to get a large piece of this foam core from a camera shop. So either option, you know, 30 bucks, I would honestly just go with the camera store one because you have white on one side and you have black on the other side. It’s a little more useful overall.

Once you get it, simply create a cut down the middle with a blade, tape it on both sides and make sure you don’t tape it too tight. Otherwise, it’ll only fold one way. Then you have a V-flat. So let’s take a look at the shots and what the V-flat is going to do here. So, this first shot, now we are shooting on the 5D Mark 3 again. This time with the 24 70 on here. And once again, don’t get caught up in the gear. Use a similar lens, use any body you got and you’re going to get a… Or not even a similar lens. Similar focal length of lens and any camera body and you’re going to get a very similar shot, okay? Don’t get caught up in the gear.

So, top left shot. This is the 24-70mm. We’re at 70 millimeters approximately and we’re at 1/100th of a second at F2.8 and ISO 3200. What are we exposing for? We’re exposing for the ambient light in the studio which since we’re using the video lights, it’s not a very good quality light. It’s yellow. It’s kind of dingy. It just doesn’t look that great. Now granted, if your ambient light is this beautiful light coming from window lighting and so forth, that’s great. Use that light to your heart’s content and wonderful. It’s a great quality light. But the problem is that a lot of times you don’t have that kind of light or you’re shooting at times of day where it’s dark. So, knowing these techniques are absolutely fantastic because you can create this light anywhere you want, regardless of how bright or dark any place is.

So this shot’s not that great. We’re losing a lot of detail, a lot of color, a lot of everything because we’re at ISO 3200. Now by the way, all of these shots, every shot that we show you guys, when we show you side by sides, they are basically straight out of camera done that way. So nothing has been modified at any of these shots. Or if we show you something that’s been modified, if we show you something that’s been processed, it’s been processed the same way on all 3 shots, okay? So nothing here is done in any form of trickery, photo shopping, light rooming, anything like that, okay? So, first shot, kind of dingy, yellow doesn’t look that great.

Second shot, we go to direct flash. How do we do this? Well, same camera set up. We went to 1/200th of a second at F2.8 and ISO 400. We go direct flash at TTL because we’re doing direct bear bulb flash. And, you know, great. We’re not really set for this type of light quality. We showed you direct flash done right is when you’re setting up for that type of a look based on the style of image that you’re shooting. We’re not here. He’s not dressed and this isn’t the type of shoot where we want to use direct flash so it doesn’t look good. Then we go into all the other shots. We bust out the V-flat. Here’s the first shot with the V-flat. Now this is straight out of camera right here. So at 1/80th of a second, F2.8 and ISO 800.

Now, depending again on the distance between you’re working, okay? So the distance between the V-flat and the model, you’re going to change your power settings. Basically, from here on out, anytime we’re bouncing, I prefer to be using manual, okay? Anytime I’m bouncing, anytime I’m using this kind of modification, I’m always using manual. But if you want to use TTL, fine. Do it. I’m not going to tell you what to do. Just use manual. But, I gave you that option here. So if you want, you can use TTL but if you start to run into an issue, just remember, switch over to manual and I’m recommending switching over anyway because it’ll give you more consistent results. So on manual, we’re going to be roughly around 1 8th to 1 16th power and again, this depends on how much light you’re sending into this V-flat and distance of that V-flat to the model. So if it looks a little bit dark, power it up a little bit.

If you don’t know where your light is going, okay like let’s say for example, this is one of my favorite techniques. If I’m bouncing off of this side and roughly I think it’s in the right positions and everything. I don’t really know if I got it right until I actually fire the shot. And shutter speed’s a little slower, now let me speed that up. And when I do fire the shot, that’s when I know where the light went. So, how can I see where the light’s going before I even take a shot? Well, on every camera, there’s going to be a little test flash button right here which will make the camera or make the flash basically flicker like this. So what I can do is I can use this, turn it on and basically adjust the position of this to get it to hit my modifier and then bounce into the model. And I can actually see it on the model when I do the tests.

So it’s the best way, especially when you’re working in. It doesn’t work as well when you’re in super bright environments outside because it’s difficult to see that little flash test. It’s not that powerful. But it’s powerful enough if you’re shooting close. But inside, you can see it perfectly and you can use this essentially as a modelling light to get that light perfect on your subject before you shoot. So, I would use that light, press that little button to get you a little flash test and you’re good to go. So with that, at around 1/8th to 1/16th power based on my distance, we take our first shot and this is that shot. And compare this to both of these. We have soft, beautiful light. Remember, think about what your light modifier is doing, right? A V-flat. A large white object. What is that doing? Well, I’m bouncing into that and it’s just basically taking my light source and it’s opening up. It’s creating a bigger light source and it’s white so it’s going to be diffused versus specular. So what comes back, a soft light that’s diffused. Okay? And that’s what we have here.

Look at that softness of the shadow wrap. Like where it wraps from bright area to darker area over the forehead. What am I doing with my model? I’m having him tilt his nose, til his chin into the light source. So that way we’re short lighting him. Okay? Beautiful wrap, beautiful light all over him in his face. And this right here, this first top shot is kind of more Rembrandt light and we have a little bit of a highlight underneath the eye. But it’s kind of in between Rembrandt and split. It’s not 100 percent split lit because we have some light on the other side of his face. It’s not quite Rembrandt because we don’t have that full kind of highlight underneath the eye. But it’s pretty closely in between those two. But it looks great either way.

Then we go down into the process. I want to show you what these look like when they’re processed. This one’s straight from the camera. When I process this, because we don’t necessarily have as much control over bounce as we would like if we set up a 2, 3 light, off camera light system and like gritted and flagged everything which we’ll get into in Lighting 201 and 301. Well, we need to do a little bit of post to kind of refine where the light’s hitting. So basically all I’m doing is we’re burning down some of these edges. We’re burning down the edges, we’re kind of deepening it, we’re darkening it just a little bit. All of it’s done it light room. It’s simple, graduated filters and radio filters to just kind of burn down the edges and pull attention into him. Kind of just make it deep and dark. And once we have it applied to one, we just simply copy and paste it across that entire set.

And this is where it comes down to why do we shoot manual flash and manual everything else on your camera because we want that consistent result. With that consistent result, we take one finished image and we paste the same developed settings across everything and we’re done. It’s simple. It’s easy. But with each one of these, I just have him moving his face into a different position. Here he’s looking over and down to the right. Here he’s looking into the camera a little bit more, he’s turning the body a little bit. And we did a nice sequence of shots with Brandon in this and we kind of have this beautiful dramatic portraits with just a simple V-flat.

So, what are the primary tips in this section? Well, number 1, you need to bounce off of a neutral colored surface. Okay? Number 2, remember that the brighter the color of the surface, the more light that’s going to come back. So, a bright light is going to give you more light back than say a more grayish tone. All right. Remember also that if you’re bouncing off a colored surface, you will get colored light back. If your bounce is red, yeah, you’re going to get red light back. Okay, and it’s not going to look good. All right. Number 3, remember that again, when it comes to your modifier, silver is specular and matte is diffused. What’s interesting is, is that the foam color that we get from the camera shop features a white matte versus the foam insulation that we get from Home Depot has a piece of plastic over the white. So it creates a little bit of a more specular light because it’s white but it’s reflective white. So remember that’s going to make a small difference in whether the light’s a little bit more diffused or a little bit more specular.

Okay. Number 4, the further the less light. And remember that inverse square law states that it’s more light lost that you think it is. At double the distance, you’re at 1 quarter the power. Just remember that number in your head. Okay. Number 5, use your aperture for the depth of field. So how do we approach a scene like this. Well, first, I always decide what I want my aperture to be just based on my depth of field and my composition. For this shot, I went to F2.8 so for the actual set up for these shots, we’re at 1/80th of a second, F2.8 and ISO 800. Next, I’d choose a shutter speed based for ambient light up to 1/200th of a second because that’s where my sync speed cut off is, right? For this scene, I don’t really want any ambient light. But at 1/80th of a second at F2.8 and ISO 800, I’m not really getting much at all ambient light.

If I do want to create a mixture of ambient and flash, what I could do is just slow down the shutter speed a little bit, and then I get a mixture of those two. This actually works incredibly well if you are say shooting with window light but you need a little bit of a flash to give you a little boost. Now, you use your flash, but let’s say the window light and the flash, they’re both 5500 Kelvin, right? They’re both the same color temperature. If I want a little bit more fill light on the face, I can use the ambient light by simply slowing down the shutter speed. It’s a really fantastic trick that works very well. Okay, so shutter speed based on what you want that ambient light to look like up to 1/200th of a second. And then simply, we decide on ISO based on number 1, image quality that we’d desire from our shot. We know, you know, based on whatever camera that you’re using, you’ll know what that cut off is.

Whether you know, it might be ISO 400 where you get decently usable shots. Maybe on your camera you can go up to 800. You know, on a 5D Mark 3 or a full frame camera, often times 1600, 3200, 6400 is totally usable. I base it off of image quality. And number 2, is how fast do I need my flash to recycle, okay? So I base it off of flash power. If I’m shooting portraits and I’m shooting a lot of different looks and we’re shooting quick. 1, 2, 1, 2 and we’re shooting fast to get all the different expressions that we want, I want to run in the flash power that number 1, my batteries can recycle in time, and number 2, that my flash doesn’t basically overheat after say 50, 60 shots or whatever. So, I leave the ISO in this around 800. Okay. That means that I can run at 1/8th to 1/16th flash power and have totally enough light to light my subject and to get enough light into the scene.

So that’s my decision process when I go and do a shot like this, again, starting with aperture for composition and depth of field, and then go into shutter speed for ambient light, and then going to ISO to decide, okay, what flash power versus image quality balance do I want to have?

All right. So that’s it for this video and hopefully you all saw how basic and simple it was turning an on camera flash into a large, studio quality light to get these beautiful, dramatic portraits.

CHAPTER GETTING OVER THE FEAR, HYPE, & MYTHS

CHAPTER 2: THE BASICS OF FLASH

CHAPTER 3 UNDERSTANDING LIGHT

CHAPTER 4: ON-CAMERA FLASH GEAR BASICS

Chapter 5: DIRECT FLASH DONE RIGHT

Chapter 6: STUDIO LIGHT? JUST BOUNCE IT!

Chapter 7: MORE LIGHTS, REFINEMENT, & CREATIVITY

Chapter 8: CASE STUDIES

Chapter 9: BONUS CHAPTERS

Total Course Run Time: 8H 17M 4S