The second in a series of eBooks that I like to think of more as field guides. This field guide examines how to use hardlight. Specifically one speedlight in a manner that is a little off the beaten track. Using one speedlight and a few improvised items this eBook walks through what I consider the absolute essential topics of simulating real sunlight one step at a time. It covers a lot of ground in a very short space. Thinks like controlling shadow edges, mixing strobe and ambient light, appropriate lighting ratios from real to idealized, along with more than a few tips, tricks, and techniques even the most experienced user of strobes will hopefully find useful
Each of these field guides is not meant to cover every single variation of every location. They are meant to be very focused and very deep on one topic and one topic only. The intent is to be able to take in the main points, remember them without any sort of formal checklist, and go try them in an hour. I have also tried to provide enough nuance and advanced throught process that revisiting these guides will prove interesting and productive for just about any photographer no matter if you have been using a camera for decades or are just starting out. I hope to provide some insight and ideas on the notion of using just one light that you bring to a scene in a creative way that has not been covered in quite the same context before. Along the way there are lighting techniques and concepts covered that will prove invaluable no matter if you are using strobes or not in any situation
When I started this guide I took a wrong turn. It ended up trying to cover far far too much ground and a lot of the most important topics got lost in a sea of details that could be considered more fine tuning. I went back and got rid of everything that was gear intensive, required more than one light, needed a whole lot of power, covered special circumstances, etc. While I do consider a lot of what I eliminated worthwhile, it proved to be far too cumbersome for the vast majority of photographers to ever find a use for. Instead I decieded on a minimalistic approach for this guide. Almost everyone will have every item required to produce exactly the same results as I did without buying anything new. This is part 1 - the absolute essentials. There will be a part two that is far more gear intensive and most likely will require a lot of set up time. I expect that the audience for part II of simulating sunlight will be about one percent of photographers that enjoy part I.
There are over 12,000 words and 70+ pages including images, some casual diagrams, histograms, and a few appendicies. It's not a bunch of recipes for making specific images. You can treat some things that way but it's far more of a thought process. This guide is gear agnostic no special gear required. It doesn't require anything fancy, not even TTL flash exposure. I limited my use of strobes to 1/8 power to make sure that what I discuss can be accomplished by just about any camera and flash. I cover exposure decisions in a relative way rather than some specific setting that may not be relevant to your scene, your gear, or your taste. I do talk a lot about using exposure and exposure decisions as part of the creative process rather than in a technical specification kind of way. There are a ton of asides about how I may have taken paths that I didn't take as well as what I may have done differently. Plenty of things to explore when making your own photographs. Not just the demonstration images I chose to make based on my tastes of the moment.
I hope you enjoy it. More importantly I sincerely hope that it gives you even just one new idea or a way of thinking about light and specifically speedlights and strobes that you haven't thought of before and inspires you to go make your own images. In any case I want to hear from you. Questions, comments, the good, the bad and the ugly. Especially any thoughts you have on the rest of the lighting field guide series - topics - treatment - tone - bigger - smaller. I am interested and love to discuss just about anything related to photography with fellow image makers.
Based on popular demand the download conatins a giant PDF with giant clear images as well as an iBooks version that's exactly the same but specifically for iPads - just like you get in the iTunes Bookstore.