I recently attended a 1 day intensive photography workshop at Vancouver Photography Workshop Studios run by world renowned small flash photographer Joe McNalley (TIME, Life, Sports illustrated). The focus of the workshop was how to light using only small, portable flashes and minimal equipment. After a few hours of examples and discussion we took to the studio to shoot some shots of models.Below are three photos that I think outline the capability of a single, handheld camera flash and small soft box to create cool looks.
For this mission we were given a model, (this is Ross) and challenged to consider people and place. I decided on trying to turn Ross into an aging Rock Star ala Keith Richards.
Next I took a shot with the flash being held approximately 4-5 feet away. There is a trick that makes sense when you think about it, but at first seems counter-intuative. The further away you bring your light from your subject, the more “spill” there will be, as the light can bounce over more of the background. I also hadn’t quite set my focus length, so his hands are in focus while his face is not. (Definite no no).
For the final photo, I changed Ross’s position to achieve some symmetry, and moved the handheld flash in as close as possible to the subject without being in the frame. Using a small light box over the flash to soften and diffuse the light, I angled it from above and created a nice little light pocket that spills just a bit to the end of his hands.