Mike's Bloggings

Contact details

+44 (0)401 090 640
171 Seventh Avenue
West Australia 6052

The Single Flash Studio.


Jan / 2012

You're shooting a static subject, the ambient light is non-existant and you only have a single flash. How can you achieve a well lit image in these circumstances?.

Painting with light. esentially you light varios portions of the subject in successive frames, then back in Photoshop you , paint a complete image.

In this particular case we had a few members of Perth Street Bikes meet at Fremantle one evening for a night shoot of their bikes. We found an interestingly grafitte'd building that lent a nice grungy counterpoint to the gleaming paint and

chrome of the bikes. The location was fairly dark and what light there was was flat and uninteresting. I only had a single Canon 430 flash so I attempted to achieve a reasonable lighting effect by painting. As you can see, I set up on the tripod and pook 5 long exposures, about 15 seconds apiece. During each exposure I concentrated on a specific section of the bike or background giving it 3 or 4 pops with the flash. I moved the flash around between pops to minimise sharp shadows.

Back at home, I loaded the images into Photoshop as multiple layers, then went through each of the images

(layers) and masked out the unlit areas. This allowed the lit areas in the images below show through, thus building up an all-over lighting scheme. I've only shown 3 of the component images here, but I actually used 6.

Voila! The completed effect. You could almost imagine I had a battery of studio flashes on location.


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  1. Nice technique Mike. And a great looking bike too.

  1. I'll definitely try this..

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