Its like a recipe

I want you to think in terms of baking a cake. It's an analogy I use to introduce these techniques to newcomers. We mix light together just as you would if making a cake, but instead of flour and eggs our main ingredients are natural light and flash in that order.

• First and foremost we record the available light of the scene. We are looking to expose the available light very similar to how it appears to our human vision. (If this technique is new to you or you have yet to really master it then my advice is to turn your flashguns to OFF whilst you record the natural light.

• The reason for this is when we leave our flashguns turned ON, we don't actually take in, see and really appreciate the scene illuminated by just the available light alone.

• Next, look at your LCD review screen. Have a thought for your exposure: is it too dark, too bright or just how you would like it to be? Then:

• Turn one flashgun to ON. Shoot and fill-in the foreground subject with just a hint of artificial light. Point your flash at the elements of the foreground you would like to see illuminated, don't just randomly point the flashgun in any direction. Start on the low power settings and gradually increase them. Resist the urge to use your second flash, there'll be time for this soon.

• Review your LCD screen again and consider if you need more of less artificial light. Crank up the flash power setting to see what effect it has on the scene but turn it up gradually — in increments.

• If need be, use your second flash also but, once again, think about where to place it and where to direct its beam. This is a subtle technique and using too much flash can destroy the mood entirely.

Challenges can arise when you choose to include the sun-ball in the frame. This can sometimes overpower the foreground and all eyes move towards the sun instead of the subject of your intention. Shooting into the sun-ball will usually necessitate small apertures of f22 or f 16 because of its intense brightness, which may prevent your flash beam travelling the distance to your foreground subject. I tackle this by capturing the rays of light but if at all possible leaving the sun-ball itself out of the frame. There is more about sunbursts in Chapter 9 'Wide Angle.'

fig. 6.65 Wreck of the Chrisoula K tool room in the northern Red Sea is an excellent place to practise challenging mixed lighting techniques. These are two finished pictures which also illustrate compositional format options, i.e. landscape/horizontal as in Fig. 6.64 and portrait/vertical in this figure. To capture the mood of this opportunity it is essential to subtly blend the natural light with flash.

fig. 6.65 Wreck of the Chrisoula K tool room in the northern Red Sea is an excellent place to practise challenging mixed lighting techniques. These are two finished pictures which also illustrate compositional format options, i.e. landscape/horizontal as in Fig. 6.64 and portrait/vertical in this figure. To capture the mood of this opportunity it is essential to subtly blend the natural light with flash.

fig. 6.66 Alan Larson is in position inside the tool room and composing the scene in a vertical format composition. His flashguns are turned off and he's taking a series of frames with alternative natural light exposures.
fig. 6.67 He's doing something that I suggest we should all do more often! He's checking the LCD on the back of his camera and considering the natural light exposure, not for accuracy but for mood, feel and atmosphere. Next, its time to think and consider 'Do we need flash?'
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:. There is no right or fig. 6.69 The sunbeams illuminate an area of this enclosed space with a hint of the outside world just around the corner, which provides a great sense of depth perspective from foreground to background. I've added just a 'kiss' of flash on right and left side. I've increased the flash power a tad on the left side to emphasise the machinery. Is it too dark? It may be, so I played around with my flash settings for a while. Nikon D300, 10.5 mm fisheye, f4 at 1/15th sec (I braced my camera housing) ISO 400, two Inon Z22C flashguns on almost the lowest power settings. The only difference between the exposure in Fig. 6.68 and in Figures 6.64 and 6.65 are the power settings. It's the baking analogy — I've just added an extra pinch of flash to improve the taste. Some of you will prefer Figs 6.64 and 6.65 others Fig. wrong but there's a sense of mood and atmosphere in all of them.

:. There is no right or fig. 6.70 Upper bridge of the Fujikowa Maru Truk Lagoon. Whilst I dove the Fuji seven times in one week it took me until the last photo-dive to get the shot I was after. The view of the upper bridge was challenging. In the end I found the perfect view and composition and started work with the ambient light. I was trying to avoid burning out the top too much but retaining a realistic colour of blue water. That done I added flash-fill on various power settings and took another 10 or more shots. The small school of glassfish added a tad more interest to the idea. Same equipment, f4.8 at 1 /30th sec, ISO 100.

fig. 6.71 By Leena Roy. A blue water background with just a hint of flash on the fish. F4.5, 1/60th sec, Canon Ixus 980 compact camera, Epoque ES-230DS strobe, Inon fisheye UFL 65AD.

fig. 6.72 By Mark Koekemoer. A subtle hint of flash on the right side of these colourful crinoids is most effective. F3.2 at 1/100th sec, ISO 100, Canon powershot 570, Inon UFL 65 AD with an Inon Z2000 strobe.

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