Make Your Own Available Light

The light in South Florida is beautiful on it’s own, but I will supplement it when I have to.

I recently did another shoot with Kari, the wedding dress girl. For one series of images, I wanted to use the green cabana at Crandon Beach. The problem is that it was completely in shade. There was enough light to make a photo, but it just didn’t have any “pop.”

Instead of waiting around for the sun to cooperate, I brought out a Nikon SB900 flash.

I had Kari’s friend Melissa hold a palm frond about 15 feet away and then placed the SB900 another 15 feet back. Putting the strobe further away from the palm made the light source even smaller, tightening up the shadow.

It was a balancing act because if I went too far back, I would not have had enough power to reach the wall.

With the strobe zoomed to 200mm and a warming gel over the light, it made a pretty good substitute for the sun.

(Nikon D3, 400mm lens, 1/250 sec, f/4, ISO 400)

For the image below, we were again in shade so I could control the light however I wanted. I used an SB900 in a Lastolite EzyBox as my main light, bounced another one off a gold reflector on the ground for fill, and put one more behind the tree at camera left for separation.

(Nikon D3, 70-200 lens, 1/125 sec, f/4, ISO 200)

For a shot in the gym, I fired my Dynalite uni400jr through a big white panel right over my head — essentially making it a giant softbox. I bounced an SB900 off the gold reflector on the floor and added another one with a red gel and a Honl snoot for the background.

(Nikon D3, 24-70 lens, 1/250 sec, f/4, ISO 400)

I think it’s Joe McNally who says that available light is any light that’s available to you. Sunlight can be nice, but I have no problem adding lights that are “available” in my camera bag.