An enlightening evening that was not over in a flash!

Members of Wakefield Camera Club were given a practical demonstration of using flash photography when photographing people and portraits.  John Gardner, one of the clubs resident professional photographers, stepped into the syllabus at the late notice and provided an insight into his day job where he uses flash for almost every image to shoot promotional, advertising and public relations images, whether working in the studio or outside in the blazing sun.

During the first half of the evening John talked through a number of projected example images to explain how he uses a flash in different situations. On bright sunny days John will place his subjects with their backs to the sun then either use a speedlite to provide a fill-in flash or a bare high-power flash to override the sun. At all times John will expose for the ambient light to ensure the background and subject detail is maintained whilst using the flash to light the subject. John is able to maintain total control over the lighting in his images by working exclusively in manual on the camera and flashes, no TTL anywhere to be seen. This approach gives John the advantage of knowing that nothing will change, once set he can take many images of his subjects knowing that the exposure is exactly how he wants it.

For the second half of the evening John brought the theory to life by plucking an unsuspecting member out of the audience to model.  John spent some time talking about the equipment. He uses speedlites, home made snoots, shoot through umbrellas, soft boxes, reflectors and some very high battery powered portable lighting. When put together with some wireless triggers he is in full control. John explained that you do not need expensive equipment – lighting stands, triggers, umbrellas and even speedlites can all be purchased at sensible prices on eBay.

Once setup John proceeded to demonstrate how he initially exposes for the ambient lighting then uses a single flash to illuminate the model. The introduction of a reflector then added some fill-in lighting to reduce any unwanted shadows.  John finished the evening by showing how he was able to meter for the ambient lighting taking into account the room lighting and a wall light and when he took the images with the wall light in the background our model was perfectly lit using the flash and reflector whilst in the background the wall light was perfectly exposed.

If you are interested in learning more about John’s work or perhaps working with John on your own portfolio or just your instagram profile page why not take a look at his website, I am sure John would love to hear from you.

This was a thoroughly engaging evening during which we had a brief insight into the real world life of a Professional Commercial & Portrait Photographer. John, thank you for stepping-in.

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