Lighting a Forest Hiker Using a Canon 580EXII Flash and Pocket Wizard TT1 and TT5
Wireless flash is an excellent tool for photographing any subject outdoors. From wildflowers to people portraits, action to adventure, the flash is an excellent lighting tool for outdoor and nature photographers.
Pro photographer Charlie Borland shows how to light a hiker in an old growth forest of ponderous pines with a remote wireless Canon 580EXII speedlight flash on a light stand and Pocket Wizard TT1 and TT5 wireless radio transmitters in a Strobist style photo shoot. He demonstrates how to get the perfect amount of light using flash exposure compensation to capture this outdoor portrait. You can use these same lighting strategies to light any outdoor adventure subject.
The amount of photo equipment required is minimal: a light stand and bracket to hold the flash. The flash and Pocket Wizards radio triggers. An Induro tripod and Canon camera with a Canon 70 – 200 f/2.8 zoom lens.
He shows how to lighten and darken the background with shutter speed and then the RAW digital files are taken into the digital darkroom and sorted in Adobe Bridge and some light processing in Adobe Photoshop.
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Equipment used in this video: Pocket Wizard TT1 TT5 Nikon
Using Canon Flashes
Outdoor Flash Photography
Syncing wireless flashes
Wireless TTL Flash Photography
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hi hey this evening I am out in the forest getting ready to photograph a hiker in those trees right back there those big old growth ponderosas and what I want to do is get a vertical shot with a small hiker in their kind of similar to one that I took years ago that that actually sold quite well and what I'm going to be doing is I'm going to be hiding a flash behind a tree back there and I'm going to be using a pocket wizard TT 1 and TT 5 which is the radio trigger that allows me to use the TTL features of the flash unit so i can adjust the flash exposure so we're getting ready to do that then i'm going to back up my shutter speeds so that i get likert lighter and darker ambient exposures and so here's what the equipment looks like ok so this is the TT one sitting in my hot shoe here very simple you just slide it in the HUD shoe turn it on and you have the option of a couple channels ok on my light stand here I have a bracket for holding a flash or attaching it to a light stand I like that because I can rotate it up and down and that sort of thing and then i have the TT 5 sitting in here and same thing as the TT 1 you turn it on you match the channels but it also has the ABC for your various groups that you program through your canon flash and one thing that i do have on here is a massive filter unfortunately for the canon photographers the 580 or the canon flashes in gen will give up a little too much RF noise so you have to have a filter in here and you also have to put a hood on it which is a little bit of an inconvenience but you know something we have to do to keep the range on the flash so put that on there then you get a lot more range out of it if you add that a little bit of an inconvenience but hey it helps so now we're ready to take this down there and set it up ok so I'm going to head on down find my tree to hide this thing behind ok so I'm going to place the light stand with the flash right behind this big Ponderosa set it up and my hiker is going to be right out in here so I want to be out of view of my camera back there so I think this is the spot right here we'll set up the light stand and make sure I can't see it raise it up just a little bit we'll go ahead and turn it on get the hood out of the way turn on the TT 5 now we're ready to shoot ok i'm getting all framed up and focused on a preset spot where I'm and have the hi cursed and then I'll direct them into position and looks like we're ready to go vertical shot with all these trees hiker down there and expose by the flash so let's get shooting okay well I've got quite a good series here bracketed my shutter speed I've got my flash exposure set really well so everything's great there and we got we got our picture so let's get out of here mosquitoes are coming out and going to meet me alive here in a minute so we're going to head back to the computer and we'll show you some of the pictures okay so I've returned to the digital darkroom and here is a collection of some of the images that I've photographed and as you can see I went in and I just basically just gave a little bit of a rating one for the most part are just images i wanted to show and then as i get down further through my list the ones that i really like a lot i've added up to five stars you know a typical bridge lightroom rating system mostly just to show you what i'm doing here so first thing I don't mention as you know if you're using flash that your shutter speed controls the ambient light exposure but not the flash exposure and here's a couple examples so here is this first image right here showing over here in the window and it's one sixth of a second at f8 okay and you can see the flash in there if you blow this up big using the loop then I come in and I change to 113th of a second at f8 that's a minus one in the ambient now it proves that the flash is not quite bright enough so i went into the pocketwizard the TT one TT 5 using the radio sinking signal and i went into my flash and I increase the flash exposure compensation a little bit by one stop to brighten up the subject and as you can see here now it's a little bit too hot but also notice that I did in f56 at 150th so i changed my exposure combination just a little bit so if i come back over here and and what i don't like is the difference between the flash and the ambient exposure so i came back in here and I changed my aperture again to f4 and I went to one sixtieth so instead of being a minus two like this one is a minus 2 on the ambient exposure only this is a minus 1 and 2 or minus one and a third so the ambient is two-thirds of a stop brighter than it was in the previous image the flash is still hot so I go back in and that's when I toned it down and it's a perfect flash exposure on her now I still feel this might be just a hair dark but maybe not this is awful close to what i want i want the flash to make the subject stand out in the background very very well so i'm back to minus 2 on the ambient minus one and two-thirds might be good so I shot a bunch at this combination i opened up my shutter speed a little bit more but now i want to show you some of the other options i went to i also decided i like the hiker facing this direction as well so i did move the flash from behind this tree to behind this one and here you can hardly see that anything's going on plus the sun which was supposed to be setting came out through the clouds and is dappling on the trees here a little bit and i didn't like that so i had to wait so then i got shooting and i decided to have the hiker hiking and moving and then have the Flash sort of freeze them in position my new exposure combination is 3.2 at a hundred so that i can get the hiker to be you know pretty frozen and here same kind of thing the flash is looking pretty good this is pretty close to being a normal exposure here the meter says it's minus one third of a stop so then i came over and decided i was going to try a couple different combinations so here i minus two thirds of a stop and i really like this a lot better the flash is just brightening the subject a little bit same thing here i think this looks really really good back to being only minus one third on the ambient and now i'm seeing a little bit of blur here as the Sun is getting darker and I probably should be going up on my iso to give me a faster shutter speed then I went in after I was done with the hiker going through the force I decided to pose and here I'm at a minus 1 on the ambient exposure the hikers just positioned in posing the fly she's lighting them really really nicely I also really liked this one where the hikers not aggressively hiking but hiking you know a little bit in the position you might say and I went back and not quite as dark on the ambient not quite as dark here not quite as dark here and then right there so I am probably torn between this one this one and this one I think they all look really good I'm happy with the exposure it's balanced nicely and as i mentioned i want the flash to make the subject stand out from the background but just a little bit to avoid what i call the flashed look so anyway let's go into Photoshop and look at the Photoshop files on these finished images so as I mentioned earlier in this video I wanted to sort of reshoots akoya forests of California and this image here which also has a very small hiker was captured about 15 years ago and made the cover of this magazine and actually was a big seller with my stock photo agency for a number of years and so I really wanted to kind of create the same thing but now that we had wireless flash photography ability these days I thought it might be more fun and create a more dynamic image by using flash hidden in a scene or what I call stash a flash the difference between the photo that I'm recently captured in this photo is the trees are substantially bigger in these sequoia groves in down in California and so you know that's a big difference but that's really what was the idea behind these two images so let's take a look at them here this is the first one and if you take a look here it really looks pretty good the minus exposure on the shutter speed or darkening the ambient light and getting the flash exposure just perfectly being able to adjust that from the camera using the T t1 and t5 made for a pretty good overall shot what I ended up doing here is cleaning it up by creating another back layer here but notice these tree branches and stuff that are kind of sticking down I just went in and use the Spot Healing Brush here and go in make a little bit bigger here and went in and kind of did this on some of these just to kind of clean it up and make it a little bit more of a perfect picture and I don't have an ethical problem with doing this at all I know if I had sold this picture commercially they would do exactly the same thing so I've done that here and this layer showing now basically gets rid of all of those branches then I went in and added just a little bit of darkness to it just a little bit more so you can see on the curves here I just pulled it down a tiny little bit for just a little bit more impact the best part is I can always go back in and change it if I felt like I went too much but I'm actually quite happy with that so then it came in and I selected another image of the hiker moving through the forest and pretty much did the same thing this is a brighter exposure and again I cleaned up the branches on a separate layer and then went in and darkened it down just a little bit more to really make the hike or pop out and so if you look the flash exposure here is pretty darn good and blow it up here and you can see flash exposures good flash is hidden behind the tree here it's probably about this height it is adding a little light to the ground if I really thought that was a problem I could go back in and burn that in just a little bit if I wanted to but really I don't think there's that much of a problem here with this image as it sits right here so anyway that's how i use the pocketwizard tt1 tt5 or the canon 580ex to hiding the flash behind a tree to light the hiker in the forest so happy shooting do you have a flash and you are so confused by all the features and functions you've decided you hate your flash well stop if you have any of these flash models we have developed an online course that will teach you everything you need to know about flash and by the end of the course you will learn to love your flash mastering flash photography offered only at great photography courses