Friday Night Lighting

Regular readers of my blog will recall my Sunset Shoot with Alysha post a week or so back, and one of the photos in the set was this one:

I was asked to show how I set up the shot, so here goes!  

For this setup, I used the following: 

I follow guys like Joe McNally and David Hobby a lot, and I have tried to implement a lot of their off-camera flash techniques into my work wherever the (hot) shoe fits. So here's how I set up the exposure:
  • Manual mode on the camera.  I don't want the camera trying to out-think me.
  • Expose the shot, then go down to -1 EV or so, I want detail in the clouds and water.  
  • Camera white balance to Tungsten (this is where the blue look comes from)
  • Snap a shot of the model: 

Settings wound up being ISO640, f/5.6, 1/125th of a second.  Since I'm using manual triggers, the shutter speed cannot exceed 1/200th of a second or else the flash won't synchronize. 
Halfway there.  Now, let's bring in the flash, and balance the exposure a bit.  One thing to keep in mind is the Colour temperature of the light you're using.  I wanted Alysha to stand out against the blue background, and I was going for more of a styled look, so I put a 1/4 CTO gel over the flash to help make her a bit more orange.  If I wanted her to blend in a bit more with the ambient light, I could use a CTB Gel.  With the CTB, the white balance shift would be to the warmer side instead of the cooler side, to get the light on Alysha's skin looking good (I don't want her looking like an ice-queen, and I certainly wouldn't want her skin to look like a pumpkin's).  

Pretty much the same shot as above, but with the flash firing.  

Positioning the light was a little tricky. I used one strobe in the softbox above the camera and to the left.  The light was fairly high up relative to Alysha (dock sloped downward to her) and we needed to keep it out of the frame. With the shadows created by the elevated light, I needed something to fill in underneath.  I popped another strobe on the ground, facing upward and gelled the same 1/4 CTO.  I put the power on 1/64th and it was just enough to keep things nice and lit without giving off any weird shadows. Here's the lighting setup in Diagram form: