Sunday, May 9, 2010

Balancing Flash and Ambient Light - Part 1: Easiest Scenario

The easiest scenario for balancing flash and ambient is when either the subject or the background is completely shaded from the ambient light.  In this type of situation you simply:
1. meter your exposure for ambient, then
2. you use the flash to illuminate the subject or background that's in shadow.

In the shot above, we were inside a theatre in Disneyland.  Several classic Mickey Mouse clips were being projected around the room.  The middle part of the room was dimly illuminated (certainly much dimmer than the projected movies), which is close to the easiest scenario.  I metered for the projected movies, slightly reducing it by -0.3 exposure compensation so as not to draw too much attention away from the subject.  I then used the flash with a tripod-boom to light the subject with flash from above camera right.  The flash was triggered via CLS and was in TTL mode (I reduced FEC -2.0 stops to make it more natural looking).

Note: I composited a similar shot on this one because our kid had a funnier facial expression in that other shot.

See also Balancing Flash and Ambient Light - Part 2: Sunny Outdoors (Easy Way)