How We Shot It: Using Off-Camera Flash In the Shower
Journalistic photography is built off the idea of candid imagery, capturing scenes as they happen. That is essentially our goal as wedding photographers, right? To be a fly on the wall while constantly being in search of moments throughout the day that tell a story of the wedding day.
The conventional usage of an off-camera flash is to illuminate a subject in dark scenes, or to fill in the shadows that may exist. This may not be a heavily requested image, but it has the potential impact to set yourself apart from the pack.
If that title wasn’t grabby enough, let’s break down what we are trying to accomplish here. Journalistic shots are apart of our job descriptions, being present in a scene but witnessing actions happening and capturing them as they do. In order to accomplish this we need to constantly be in search of moments throughout the day that narrate the events of the day while maintaining a journalistic candid nature.
The voyeur (in this case, you, the photographer) does not normally interact directly with the subject of his/her interest, who is often unaware of being observed. For a scene like this, we simply gave our subject an action (showering, shaving, etc.) and had him play out the scene as he normally would. This technique is something we refer to as “assisted photojournalism” where we essentially lend a helping hand as the director of the scene and capture moments as they unfold.
the shower scene
We first started off by assessing our scene and available light within the SLS Hotel bathroom. There are overhead spotlights in the shower stall that we can emulate using an OCF, but how do we get our flash into the right spot?
There are two ways to mount your flash to a surface:
- Gaffer Tape: not very aesthetically pleasing, but it does a great job securing your flash. It’s also a great tool to have on hand anytime.
- Tether Tools: The RapidMount SLX offers a bungee cord to secure your flash in place and uses an adhesive strip to mount it on a smooth surface.
Once your flash is mounted, tune in your settings to arrive at a proper flash sync speed (shutter speed at 1/200th of a second or lower). For this particular image we were using a Canon 5D Mark III with a Sigma 24mm f/1,4 lens with the following settings: 1/200th of a second, f/2.2, ISO 100.
Placing the flash in the right position is only the first part of getting our light right – figure out whether you need a gel to match the existing light, if you need a grid to help pinpoint the light and prevent light spill, and what power setting it needs to be on to get the right amount of light on your subject.
The shaving scene
For these scenes we were operating at around 1/32nd-1/64th flash power keeping in mind that the flash is being used to illuminate our subject since our overall exposure is on the darker side. Here, we set the flash on the shadowed side of the face to clearly show the subject in the mirror reflection.
This has been a short excerpt from Photographing the Groom, where you can learn how to pose, light, capture, and post-produce creative and inspiring groom shots just like the ones you see above. Upgrade to SLRL Premium now to enjoy full streaming access to this workshop and our more in our extensive library!