Harp Photography – Fill Flash

In my last post about my sister’s harp portraits, I explained how I did the silhouette effect in camera. Today, I will show you how I took my favorite shot from the day using a fill flash.

Copyright Emily Straw Photography, LLC

Copyright Emily Straw Photography, LLC

Copyright Emily Straw Photography LLC

Copyright Emily Straw Photography LLC

For starters, I used the same camera and settings I had used on the silhouette images. I used the meter focused on the sky for my exposure, I wanted to easily see the details of the sky and the beautiful sunset. I started by setting my ISO at 100, ensuring a lot less light entered the camera and no noise reduction was necessary in post processing. I set my shutter speed at 1/125 for two reasons: I wanted to capture the ambient light from the sun and on the harp, and I needed it to be slow enough to sync with the external flash. I then set my aperture to get the correct exposure for the sky; for this image I set it at f/16. I loved using the high aperture and slower shutter speed instead of the other way around, the entire image is sharp and the ambient light pouring on the subject is gorgeous.

The biggest change in photographing this image compared to the last post was the use of an external flash. I use the YN-560 on a Cowboy Studios transmitter, mounted to a flash stand. 

ISO – 100        Shutter Speed – 1/125 sec.

Aperture – f/16         Fill Flash – medium/high

This flash is an inexpensive, very powerful tool for experimenting with flash. I pointed the flash straight at my subject with absolutely no diffusion. I started with the flash on a medium-low power and slowly increased it to get the correct exposure. I wish I could remember what power level the flash was set at for this image, sadly I do not but I remember it was pretty high. When she was sitting I had her tilt her head and moved the flash to be in line with her nose. This eliminated some of the harsher shadows on her face, making it look even and symmetrical. When she was standing the flash was further to her left and illuminated the side of her body more than the front, and combined with her body’s angular lines and posing it created a very flattering and slimming effect. I also loved the specular highlights on the harp on the second image, the angle of the flash was perpendicular to the top of the harp in the first image and it created a very flat light. 

Overall I was really pleased with the effect I was able to create in camera. Very little post processing was done, I lowered the highlights so you can see the sky even more, and warmed it up a bit to enhance the sunset feeling. I added a bit of contrast and sharpening, deepened the blacks a bit, and and added a vignette. There are definitely a few things I would have changed if I did the session again, but I really love the images I created and my sister was extremely pleased with them. 



Have you tried creating a studio lighting setup in an outdoor environment? Share your tips and ideas here, and leave a link to your work! 

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