Saved From Flat Lighting by Operator Error

I set up three flashes to provide flat lighting, but not all of them fired reliably, and this really improved the results.

I set up three flashes to provide flat lighting, but not all of them fired reliably, and this really improved the results.

I like to play it safe when creating theater publicity shots, so I usually set up three lights with multiple diffusers to provide even lighting on stage. However, I use Nikon’s Creative Lighting System, which relies on infrared signals to fire the remote flashes. If I’m moving around, and I’m always moving around, I sometimes lose line-of-sight to one or more of the flashes, and they don’t trigger. Last night this produced more dramatic directional lighting that better suited the subjects. Many of my better photos are happy accidents, but I don’t like to think about that too much.

The flash on my right did not fire, but the on-camera fill and sb600 to the left created shadows that better suited the mood of the moment.

The flash on my right did not fire, but the on-camera fill and sb600 to the left created shadows that better suited the mood of the moment.

Here, the flash on the left did not fire, increasing the feeling of depth and better isolating the main subject.

Here, the flash on the left did not fire, increasing the feeling of depth and better isolating the main subject. Had the chorus members on the left been more brightly lit, the mood would suffer. Kinda wish I’d set up a background light, though…

With all flashes firing, I got even light across the stage.

With all flashes firing, I got even light across the stage.

Just as the silence between notes is essential to music, shadows are essential to photography. I think all flashes fired here, but I had dialed down two of them.

Just as the silence between notes is essential to music, shadows are essential to photography. I think all flashes fired here, but I had dialed down two of them, and she is standing closer to the key light.

By keeping the flashes close to the action, I could illuminate the eyes behind the masks while keeping the background dark.

By keeping the flashes close to the action, I could illuminate the eyes behind the masks while keeping the background dark. Multiple diffusers prevented hot spots on the masks.

Cassandra threatened. This doesn't illustrate anything about the topic at hand; I just like the image.

Cassandra threatened. This doesn’t illustrate anything about the topic at hand; I just like the image.

These shots are from Senga Classic Stage Company‘s upcoming production of The Fall of the House of Atreus. All were shot with Nikon D7000, Nikon 17-55 f/2.8, SB800 on-camera as commander and fill light, and SB600s right and left, when they worked…

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Filed under Dance and Theater, Lighting

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