Master the ba­sics

NPhoto - - Nikon Skills -

1 Get set up

A typ­i­cal home stu­dio kit in­cludes two heads, stands and mod­i­fiers. The flash is trig­gered ei­ther with a sync ca­ble or wire­less trig­gers. Once the heads are on their stands, at­tach the sync ca­ble to one light and set the other to Slave so that it goes off when it de­tects the first flash.

2 Ad­just the power

Most stu­dio heads have a con­trol that lets you in­crease or de­crease the power. On this Elinchrom head it runs from 2 to 6. Each nu­meral is a stop dif­fer­ence. You can also change the dis­tance be­tween light and sub­ject – halv­ing the dis­tance quadru­ples the strength of light.

3 At­tach a mod­i­fier

To con­trol the qual­ity and spread of the light, stu­dio lights can be fit­ted with a va­ri­ety of mod­i­fiers and ac­ces­sories, such as the soft­box and um­brella that you can see here. The mod­el­ling light – a con­stant bulb next to the flash bulb – will give you an idea of the ef­fects of each mod­i­fier.

4 Ex­per­i­ment with ex­po­sure

In man­ual mode, set the ISO to 100, the aper­ture to f/8 and the shutter speed to the fastest flash sync speed (usu­ally 1/200 sec). Take a test shot. If it’s too light, ei­ther lower the flash power, in­crease the f-num­ber or move the light fur­ther away. If it’s too dark, do the op­po­site.

5 Strike a bal­ance

With two lights, it’s all about the ra­tio be­tween them. Turn on one light – we used a soft­box from above – and ex­pose for it. This is your Key. Now turn it off and turn on the other light – an um­brella from be­low, here. Aim for one or two stops of un­der­ex­po­sure. This is your Fill.

6 Blow the high­lights

We can get a fresh high-key look with just two lights. Here one soft­box lights the face, while an um­brella is an­gled at the back­ground. The um­brella is fired at a higher power than the soft­box, so it blows out the back­drop. A lit­tle re­flected light cre­ates a nice high­light along the cheek.

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