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Hi, this is Jay P. Morgan. Today on the Slanted Lens I’m in Gettysburg teaching you how to combine strobes with ambient light- in this case at sunset. I just love Gettysburg. We rolled in here at the very end of the day and the sun had already gone down.
So let’s take a look at our lighting set up.
We’ll be photographing our Lincoln at a cannon. So we have our two cannons, we’ve got a Lincoln with a lantern, and we’ve got the sky that’s already dark but just fading darker and darker. What we’re going to do is set the shutter for a nice long exposure with that ambient light to bring that sky back into play, and set lights for everything else. So let’s look at our lighting breakdown. My first light was the lantern. I’ve got a speedlight and a PocketWizard: I tape those two together then I tape that onto the back of the lantern. The remote that’s going to fire my Dynalite Bajas will not fire a speedlight, so I put PocketWizards on the two Bajas the and speedlight. Inside of the lantern I’ve got a full CTO with a diffusion gel from Rosco. I taped the speedlight with a PocketWizard to the back of the lantern and he’s going to hold that. It’s very guerrilla. We’re going to see that when he moves around, but retouch it out so it’s no big deal. So there’s our first light: we’ve got the lantern which gives us a nice glow on him, but it doesn’t really light his face. To do that we put a Baja B4 with a medium soft box and grid on it. I moved that closer to the camera than I normally would because I want the light on his face to look as if it’s coming from the lantern. Then, we took and put a grid on the camera right side, right behind the cannon. Got that grid and the light coming over the top of the cannon, lit up some of the cannon, gave us a nice rim on him and it’s also going to give us a place for our smoke to work in the background. So there are our three lights. Lantern, medium soft box with a grid on him to imitate the lantern, then a nice rim light on the camera right side. It’s a grid spot, the largest grid we had just to kind of open everything up.
So here’s the balancing act when you do a shot like this. The sky really becomes my background. I’ve got to keep that sky exposed correctly. The sky’s getting darker and darker because the sun just went down. The sun had already gone down when we arrived. I started at about a 30th of a second and I’m just going to keep lengthening that shutter speed- try to keep that sky or background bright enough so it’s going to work with the stuff we have in the foreground here. The foreground stays consistent. I’m at F5.6 because I’ve got my strobes, they’re not going to change but the background’s changing constantly, so I’ve got to keep lengthening that exposure and keep that background bright. I hit a point where it was so dark in the background and I had so little light up front that I put a vector light up. I dialed that way down and it became a little ambient light. I’m now up to a second exposure for the background and so that little vector light actually became a great little glow in this area of the foreground. Opened up the shadows just a little bit and made a nice look.
So there’s how we set up our shot last night. We were chasing the sun, extending that shutter speed to be able to give us that background, make it bright enough in the shot, little vector light in the end, to open up the shadows. It really turned out to be a very nice shot. I love having this kind of combination of strobes and background and bringing those together. I love chasing the sun, it’s a great thing to do. I feel like I can shoot long after the sun’s gone. Most people say, “Well, the sun’s down, we’re done.” But for me, that is just when I start. That’s when I want to get going because I can keep exposing that in one second, two seconds. You just need tell your talent to hold very still so you are able to get your shot. I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. We got some great shots out here in Gettysburg.
Keep those cameras rolling, keep on clicking.