Shooting with One Light

I'm not much of an ambient photographer. I like to use light to shape and control my images. Typically, I like to use a simple, one-flash setup, with the light off-camera fired wirelessly. However, in some instances times are too quick to be messing with a light stand and wireless lighting.

Cameron & Aubrey

For instance, I was shooting a wedding the other day, and was getting some images of the girls getting ready. They were in a large open room with a low ceiling and ambient light streaming through the windows. I COULD have gone with the ambient available light, but I chose to light the photos with my one flash, from the camera.

Typically, on-camera flash looks about like this:

Flash Example

Not necessarily bad, but not necessarily good. On-camera flash's job is to let you get a picture, even if it has to be a bit gross. If I could have used my light-on-a-stand wireless method the images could have looked more like a studio shot:

Flash ExampleBut I needed a compromise. Something that was quick, repeatable, changeable and QUICK. Things were happening in different parts of the room, with different angles, different ceiling heights, different window placement, it was tricky. I needed to be on my toes to pull a great looking once-in-a-lifetime image of the Bride and her gals getting ready.

Here's the solution I chose.

It was able to perform pretty dang well if you ask me. Here's one photo just as an example. To emphasize the point a bit I'd like to note that this is not Photoshopped.

Flash Example

It is not post-processed at all. This image is straight out of the camera, and while that doesn't mean it's ready to print, it is impressive to get this kind of result from this fast of a run-and-gun method.

One more quick note. That "studio shot" example above wasn't a studio shot. It was with this method, about 10ft to the left in the same room.