STEP BY STEP / Go for a spin

NPhoto - - Nikon Skills -

1 Find some space

We headed to the beach as we needed am­ple space to spin the poi, and wanted a sim­ple, un­clut­tered back­drop. We set up the cam­era down low on a tri­pod for a more in­ter­est­ing an­gle, then waited for the light to fade at dusk so that the fiery streaks would show up bet­ter.

2 Ex­pose for the back­ground

We in­ten­tion­ally un­der­ex­posed the back­ground by -1 stop so that the per­former would stand out when adding flash. With Man­ual mode en­gaged we set an aper­ture of f/9 to max­i­mize depth of field and low­ered ISO to 50 to al­low for a slower shut­ter speed.

3 Go longer with the shut­ter

Our ex­po­sure me­ter sug­gested a 1/4 sec shut­ter speed with the above set­tings, how­ever we wanted a shut­ter speed of 1 sec to blur the mo­tion of the fire. To achieve this, you could nar­row the aper­ture, use an ND fil­ter, or sim­ply wait for light lev­els to fall, which is what we did.

4 Bag the stand

We were us­ing the flash off-cam­era, to the side of the per­former, so popped our Speed­light on a light stand. A reg­u­lar stand may not be sturdy enough in windy con­di­tions; we used a heavy-duty C-stand, weighed down by our cam­era bag at­tached via a bungee cord.

5 Gel the light

You could also ex­per­i­ment with white bal­ance by plac­ing gels on your Speed­light. Use a warm­ing gel to pre­serve skin tones and make the sky bluer. We added agreen gel to add some more ma­genta to the sky, mak­ing it look more pur­ple in our shot.

6 Aim for the head

Set your Speed­light to man­ual mode, 1/2 power; ad­just if the per­former looks too dark or bright. We man­u­ally zoomed the flash head to 80mm to cre­ate a tight spot of light, aimed at our model’s head and torso, so the light fell off to­wards their legs, em­pha­siz­ing the per­for­mance.

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