I’ve had a request to explain in more detail how I achieved the wedding party composite from yesterday’s post. I borrowed the idea from Ryan Brenizer, who uses this technique very effectively to achieve dramatic (but even) lighting over a group of people. This would be extremely difficult with a single or pair of flashes in a single image, especially on the fly and in the wild.
Here’s how it’s done.
First I set the camera (D300s with AF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 17mm) on a tripod to keep the framing the same between each shot. I used manual mode to ensure consistent exposure. Settings of ISO 200, f/8, 1/250s gave this look:
The ambient light is at least a stop underexposed, which is right where I wanted it. The next step was to set up the flash. I used a Nikon SB-900 set to wireless TTL control (the Nikon CLS system is powerful and complicated… something I’m sure I’ll delve into explaining in another post) and triggered with the on-board flash. To diffuse and soften the light, I added my favourite light mod, the Lumiquest Softbox LTz. This softbox mounts to the flash with velcro and folds up to the size of a 17″ laptop, which most camera bags nowadays have a slot for. Portt, who was assisting me that day, held the flash up close to each pair of people and I took a shot for each position.
In Lightroom, I batch processed the five images for exposure, lens correction, sharpening and then opened them in Photoshop as layers in a single file. Using the first image as a base layer, I painted in the relevant bits from the successive layers and finished things off with some global and local curves and dodging/burning. Here’s the final image:
To get this look in a single image would have required some pretty tricky lighting, both to light each person evenly and to control the spill on the background. In all, the composite took just a few minutes to shoot and less than half an hour in Photoshop. An added bonus to shooting each pair separately is that I can focus on just two faces at a time (i.e. no blinkers).