Flatter your Subject

I've been teaching this concept for some years and it works really well:

Look at the orientation of the subject you have chosen and imagine you have a torch/lamp/light in your left hand. Ask yourself,'Where would you place the torch to most flatter the subject?' Visualise a fish facing left to right. If you held your torch somewhere on the left-hand side of your camera it would create a flattering photogenic rim of light. The trouble is, it's providing pleasing illumination to the tail of the fish, when ideally you would like to flatter and emphasise its face!

I want to encourage you to place your flash in a position which you believe will most flatter your chosen subject. The only caveat to this is to ensure that your flash is not protruding beyond the end of your port, be it either a compact or SLR. If it does protrude, you run the risk of spooking the subject or getting backscatter/flare in your shot.

I encourage you to experiment with this concept: Use a flexible flash arm which can be adjusted into a variety of positions. Keep it behind your port and simply place it where you think the beam of light will most flatter the subject.

After a little practice you will bend and shape your flash into various positions. You will develop a sense of when the light is harsh, unflattering and ugly and also you'll become aware of the positions to avoid because of flair and backscatter. You will realise where it's too close and overexposed or too far away and underexposed.

fig. 6.40 Put this visualisation exercise to the test. I have framed this blue ribbon eel at a 3/4 profile towards its left-hand side. Its body, eye and mouth are all important features which are important to illuminate. I rotated my housing into a portrait compositional format and used one flashgun. (I'd been using two but the background — the negative space — was too bright so I turned one off.)

Question: In my situation and to illuminate the features in much the same way, where would you position your flashgun? Answers on a postcard. I joke — the answer is on page 260. Nikon D300, Nikon 105 mm VR lens, f16 at 320th sec, ISO 200.

fig. 6.40 Put this visualisation exercise to the test. I have framed this blue ribbon eel at a 3/4 profile towards its left-hand side. Its body, eye and mouth are all important features which are important to illuminate. I rotated my housing into a portrait compositional format and used one flashgun. (I'd been using two but the background — the negative space — was too bright so I turned one off.)

Question: In my situation and to illuminate the features in much the same way, where would you position your flashgun? Answers on a postcard. I joke — the answer is on page 260. Nikon D300, Nikon 105 mm VR lens, f16 at 320th sec, ISO 200.

fig. 6.41 My left flash is out at an angle and my right side flash is close to the housing. This position would be adopted after looking at the shape and orientation of a possible opportunity, more likely to be wide angle than macro (flat port is shown for illustration purpose only).

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