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Shadowing - and Other Revolutionary Ideas For Speedliting - part 2 of 1 2 3 4 5

Published 01/08/2010

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Light, by itself, has no depth. Stare at a blank piece of paper and tell me what you see. You see an even field of white. Now crumple the paper into a ball and then unfold it as smooth as you can. What do you see? You now see the texture of the paper because you now see shadows. So, remember this - light enables you to see the object, shadows enable you to see its depth.

Understand that, in terms of creating an interesting shadow, a hotshoe is a perfectly lousy place to park a Speedlite. Seriously. As the lens sees it, when you throw light at your subject from the top of your camera, the light hits both sides of the subject equally. Like a flat sheet of paper, your photograph lacks depth because it has no useful shadows.

The creation of shadows is a function of where you position your Speedlite. So, you need to unbolt the flashgun from the top of your camera. Move it out at least to arm's length. Then learn to move it out much farther. I'm fond of saying that you don't need a truckload of Speedlites to create great light. You just need to put the one you have in the right place.


For economy and reliability, I use a variety of E-TTL cords - cords that can carry the full path of communication between by camera and Speedlite. For close-in work, I use the Canon OC-E3 cord (about 3' stretched) and hold the Speedlite in my left hand. For larger setups, I pull out a 30' E-TTL cord. This extra-long cord has truly revolutionised the way that I work because it gives me the ability to move my master Speedlite off the top of my camera and into positions where it can be seen by multiple slaves (such as when I use a Lastolite Triflash to hold the master, along with two slaves, inside a large soft box).

For events and weddings, where a cord would be a liability, I use E-TTL radio triggers - RadioPopper's PX (North America only) and PocketWizard's FlexTT5/MiniTT1 (worldwide). If you are getting paid to shoot, then the convenience of the E-TTL radio technology is a bargain. If you are an enthusiast, then the short and extra-long E-TTL cords will suit your needs - both visually and financially.

Light Selectively - If you light everything, then nothing will stand out


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1st Published 01/08/2010
last update 06/11/2019 11:08:22

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