Creating a Portrait with Flip-it!
Can basic portrait lighting be achieved with just the flash on your camera? This is quite a challenge as on-camera flash units are not really made to do this. Let's test some different ways of using your flash to see how close we can come to this ideal.
First let's define what we mean by basic portrait lighting.
- Soft light that produces flattering skin tones.
- Main light that is at approximately 45 degrees to the subject, both horizontally and vertically.
- Shadows on the face that are "filled" by a second light source.
- An absence of distracting shadows on the background.
- Room with 12' white ceiling.
- Subject distance from white background: 2 feet.
- Lighting, one flash on camera.
As a beginning point here is Lucille lit by direct flash. As you can see, this lighting does not fulfill any of the 4 conditions of basic portrait lighting.
Let's add a diffusion cube, the most popular flash modifier today. The light is softer but the shadow pattern is the same as direct flash. She looks much better, but it doesn't really look like the basic portrait lighting we are after.
Let's try the white pull-out reflector that is in the strobe. (Nikon reflector)
Let's try the business card and rubber band trick.
One technique that photographers have used for years is to bounce the flash off the ceiling, like this. Now we are getting somewhere. If we could only get some life in the eyes, and fill in those shadows a little.
Let's add some front fill from the Flip-it reflector.
Voila! A portrait lighting that looks like it was produced in a studio. But it was produced with one camera, one flash, and one Flip-it.
This is the position of the Flip-it used to create this portrait lighting. The main light is created by the full force of the strobe bouncing off the white ceiling. The shadows are filled by the light skimming off the Flip-it! reflector.
Here is an actual portrait done in a typical home situation using this technique.