Flash In The Landscape

There’s a magic quality to the light right before the sun crests the horizon at sunrise and just after it sinks below at sunset
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There’s a magic quality to the light right before the sun crests the horizon at sunrise and just after it sinks below at sunset. If the subject is front- or side-lit by this gorgeous glow of color, detail can be recorded. But if you want to record the subject against this gorgeous backdrop, it falls into silhouette. If you need to reveal detail in the subject, it’s necessary to add artificial light. Today’s hot shoe flashes are portable, powerful and the light of my choice. To make the image work, it’s necessary to balance the amount of light emitted from the flash with the amount of ambient light in the sky. It’s essential the flash can be dialed up or down from the ambient light meter reading. The amount depends on the effect you desire and the chosen f-stop at which the image is made. The smaller the f-stop, the more you’ll tax the capability of the flash to emit enough light.

It’s easy to check the exposure on your LCD and adjust the compensation on the back of the flash to achieve the desired result. If too much light falls on the subject, dial in minus compensation. If there’s not enough, dial in plus compensation. If there’s still not enough light after maximizing the plus side, open the aperture on the lens or move the flash closer to the subject. If neither of these solutions work, it means the flash is not powerful enough based on the distance it resides from the subject.

If your system allows rear curtain synch, by all means, use it. It works very well with moving subjects and creates dramatic results. It allows the flash to be used with shutter speeds slower than the camera’s synch speed and it fires the flash at the end of the exposure. The advantage is, it shows a streak of movement behind the subject illustrating a more natural sense of motion. When used in conjunction with panning, very powerful images can be created. It’s possible to handhold the camera and flash when you use rear curtain synch as the flash helps freeze the subject’s movement. The drawback is the streaking lines may show vertical movement. If you desire smooth streaks, it’s essential you use a tripod, loosen the pan knob and smoothly follow the subject across the film plane.

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