Overpowering and changing the mood of available light

Lizelle photographed by Steve Fetbrandt 1/250sec f4.5 55mm. Notice the background and how distraction abound because of the available light.
Lizelle photographed by Steve Fetbrandt 1/250sec f4.5 55mm. Notice the background and how distraction abound because of the available light. Notice the highlights? Those are from the sun on the right.

Overpowering our sun is a tall order even with the most powerful of studio strobes.

So to attempt that with small flash units or speedlites that run off 4AA batteries requires either the sun to be covered by clouds or one has to wait till the sun is past its most powerful noon hour.

In case there are those of you reading this wondering why is this desirable, the answer is for control.

One of the techniques I teach during my Small Flash Lighting workshop is how to change the mood and feel of a scene.

When relying strictly on available light to make pictures, you constantly have to find backgrounds that are not lit or backgrounds that are lit in such a way it is less subdued against your subject.

Remember,  in your scene, whatever isn’t lit is less of  a distraction.

For my pictures below which were taken  at about the same time as Steve’s, I made sure to use my longest focal length lens so I could blur out the backgrounds. (The longer the focal length, the shallower the depth-of-field)

Steve used 55m to 200 mm Nikon lens but set his lens at the 55 mm setting.

I picked up my 80-200 Canon zoom and set mine at 175mm.

I used a 1/4 CTO gel over my Canon 600-EX-RT Speedlite which was set to High Shutter Speed Sync mode. Exposure was 1/2000 @ f4. I used a 80-200 zoom set at 175 mm focal length.
I used a 1/4 CTO gel over my Canon 600-EX-RT Speedlite which was set to High Shutter Speed Sync mode. Exposure was 1/2000 @ f4. I used a 80-200 zoom set at 175 mm focal length. The sun is still in the same position as in the above picture but because I underexposed ambient light by 3 f-stops, the highlight no longer register on the right side of Lizelle.

I also used the High Shutter Speed Sync mode on my Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite which was fitted with  a 1/4 Color Temperature Orange gel to give me a warm late evening look.

I intentionally raised the shutter speed by 3 f-stops. The ambient metered at 1/250. I set my shutter speed at 1/2000sec.

Fine tuning the image. I moved in closer and eliminated more of the clutter to get a more arresting image of LIzelle's beautiful features. 1/3000 sec f2.8 High Shutter Speed Sync mode
Fine tuning the image. I moved in closer and eliminated more of the clutter to get a more arresting image of LIzelle’s beautiful features. 1/3000 sec f2.8 High Shutter Speed Sync mode

High Shutter Speed Sync has limitations and one of them is that the Speedlite has to be very close to your subject.

I set my Speedlite just outside of the frame on the left of Lizelle.
Peter Phun Photography

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