To get the most out of a one-flash set-up can be quite tricky, as it easily results in boring, flat lighting. With the following hints, it is a breeze! For the sample shots in this article, I used the following gear:
- Olympus OM-D M5 (my trusty workhorse)
- 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO (all you need - most of the time)
- 60mm f/2.8 Macro (a tack-sharp lens, not only useful for macro shots)
- FL-600R with an Omnibounce Diffuser
In general, I recommend using multiple flash guns off-camera for maximum control over lighting whenever artificial lighting is needed. But for reasons of convienience and ease of use it is sometimes necesseray to use one on-camera flash only. If the following prerequisites are met, you can get very nice indoor-shots with only one flash:
- The room is small enough so that you can bounce light off the walls/ceiling.
- The flash is powerful enough to bounce light off the walls/ceiling.
- There is at least one additional light source which at best serves as the key light.
- Even if some of the conditions might differ from the ones mentioned above, remember that using a flash is almost always better than not using a flash, if you know how!
For the new-born pictures,I set the Flash FL-600R to TTL-Auto mode and activated forced flash. Now, I just put the Omnibounce on the flash and tilted the flash head approximately 75° degrees upwards and set the camera to Manual mode. This is how the flash behaves with the before mentioned settings:
- If the meter indicates correct exposure, the flash acts as a fill light, just softening the shadows.
- If the meter shows that the picture will be under-exposed, the flash compensates the exposure.
- If the meter indicates over-exposure, the flash will overexpose the scene even more. This is might be useful for creating high-key pictures.
If you want to darken the background and separate the subject in the picture from the background, increase the shutter speed so that the meter indicates an underexposure of about 1 to 2 stops. With faster shutter speed, the ambient light contributes less to the overall exposure and the flash effectively separates the subject from the background as it tries to compensate for the two-stop underexposure. With the camera set to Manual mode, you can adjust the strength of separation easily! Do not hesitate to use higher ISO settings to get the aperture/shutter speed combination you need! Keep in mind that the Omnibounce reduces the overall power of the flash by about 1 stop, you might have to compensate for that (take a test shot first).
BONUS: Baby, Camera, Flash, Action
When shooting new-borns, it is absolutely necessary to create a calm and cosy working environment. These youngest of all models sense the excitement around them and can get uncomfortable pretty fast, which can ruin the shooting. I recommend shooting in the morning, as babies tend to be calmer at that time of the day. Plan at least four hours for the session!