Research notes – flash in daylight

In earlier post (see here and here), I took a series of shoots looking at the combination of natural and artificial light. The problem with natural and generally available artificial light is that it is not always possible to change its configuration. Some things can be done about it, with reflectors and other light modifiers, but major changes, like for instance to make natural light strike an object at a particular angle, are only possible at certain times of the day and for a limited period which can be just down to a few minutes or seconds depending on the season. These limitations could potentially be overcome by using our own artificial source of light, like a flash.

The following series was taken with a single external flash during daylight. The first shot was taken indoors, in a partially covered tunnel with one of the walls removed to allow daylight to come trough. The light falling on the shot was only natural and indirect (ie reflected from the adjoining surfaces, which were dark).


1/60s at f5.6. ISO 400. 27mm (equiv to 41mm in full frame)


In the above, the flash was set in a slightly “feathered” position by moving the head slightly up (pointing towards the reilings rather than the pack of crisps). The flash head was covered with a home made snoot, made with black cardboard, to give more directionality to the light. The flash was set at about 4 meters from the subject. Schematics are shown to the right.

In the resulting picture, the flash light is a bit overpowering and there is almost no background light from the ambient. This creases quite a dramatic shot which focuses attention strongly on a subject that under regular daylight would look mundane and would normally be ignored.


1/180s at f8. ISO 200. 27mm (equiv to 41mm in full frame)

project-9The next shot was taken on broad daylight wiht no artificial light involved other than from the flash. The flash was put on a stand and placed about 1 to 2 meters away from the plastic cup. No modifier was used, but the head was pointing slightly upwards so that it would not illuminate much of the ground. The schematics are shown on the right.

On this occassion, the flash light and the ambient light were more or less balaced, with the ambient light primarily setting up the road and the reflection of the building above (it just stopped raining a few minutes before) while the flash provided the ilumination of the plastic cup, which stands up in contrast with the dark grey of the road surface. There is less drama in here when compared with the initial shot: there are no long shadows and the highlights are more subtle, but there is still a high level of contrast and separation between the subject and its background.




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