Master Your Flash: Shadows Can Be Your Friend

This post was updated on 8/14. Reader Dwight Atterhold made a good comment re the Canon ST-E2 wireless transmitter. Thank you Dwight.

Here are some thoughts on shadows:

Shadows can be your friend.

Shadows are the soul of the photograph.

Shadows add a sense of depth and dimension to a photograph.

Here are some thoughts on lighting:

The larger the light, the softer the light.

The closer the light, the softer the light.

• • • • •

Above is a shot I took today at my Plymouth, MA workshop. Below is a picture of the super simple lighting set-up. In the photo below, the light is place on on the right. For my opening photo for this post, the both lights were placed on the left.

The workshop was organized by Amy Davies, who heads up the Plymouth Photography Club.

Before going on, a big thanks to Casey Baird, the director of the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Plymouth, for letting us use her studio - and for helped us out as a great model! The good looking dude is Forrest. Thank you, too!

Gear: Canon 580 EX II placed in a Westcott Apollo softbox fired by my Canon ST-E2 wireless transmitter which was mounted in the hot-shoe of my Canon 5D Mark II. The flash in the softbox was set at full power and on E-TTL.

About the ST-E2: Technically, line-of-sight is required for the Canon ST-E2 to fire Canon Speedlites – because the ST-E2 is an IR transmitter. However, I have found that when working in small rooms with white, bright or glass walls, or rooms with mirrors (this dance studio), the ST-E2 fires Speedlites "hidden" in softboxes all the time. In larger rooms, such as when I was teaching at Photoshop World, the flash sometimes fired. If you want to be 100 percent sure that a Speedlite in a softbox will fire in any size room, use one of the two following devices:

Pocket Wizard
Pocket Wizard FlexTT5 Transceiver For Canon TTL Flashes and Digital SLR Cameras
PocketWizard MiniTT1 Radio Transmitter for Canon TTL Flashes and Digital SLR Cameras

Radio Popper
RadioPopper PX Transmitter Unit
RadioPopper PX Receiver with Antenna and Canon Mounting Bracket

Power Settings
The flash held my the "voice activated light stand," my wife, Susan, was set at 1/3 power.  That 580 EX II was fired through some plastic palm leaves to add some shadows to the stone wall. A blue gel was placed over that flash to add some color to the wall.

Nik Software's Midnight filter in Color Efex Pro was added to add some drama to the scene.

All my camera gear is listed on my gear page.

Here is a link to the Westcott Apollo soft box:
Westcott 2331 28-Inch Apollo Flash Kit

For a discount on Nik software, click here.

If you want to master your flash, check out my Master Your Flash workshops in Croton on Hudson, NY.

Below: I just added this behind-the-scenes shot that shows the position of the softbox for the opening shot in this post. Yes, we moved the softbox around the studio for many different lighting setups. 

Explore the light,

P.S. I also teach flash photography on all my workshops. Private lessons are available, too. And if you have an iPad, my Rick Sammon's 24/7 Photo Buffet and Light It! apps have lots of lighting info. Click here for info.