Lighting A Sunset Vista

October, 2018 Keely and a group of photographers and I went to the Mogollon Rim, north east of Payson, AZ. The premise to provide instruction in using Off-Camera Flash. Keely was our illustrious model and the participating photographers were to have the opportunity to attend my Lighting Workshop and explore the lighting techniques balancing flash with the surrounding ambient lighting. The keys to these techniques will be discussed below.

Our model, Keely Austin poses in the real life backdrop of the Mogollon Rim as the sun sets in the distance and sheds a beam of golden light across the scene…

Key One: Select the Environmental Setting

That is the background for your photograph.

Key Two: Place the Subject in the Scene

In this case, our model Keely, in the setting and determine your camera position. That is the camera perspective and the scene and subject relationship of placement. Note: As the auxiliary lighting will be placed into the set, as the next step, it will be important to maintain the camera position and lens focal length for the desired perspective. This is best accomplished by placing the camera on a tripod.

Key Three: Positioning of the Lights

Set the lights into position in the following roles; Key Light, Fill Light and Hair or Kicker Light.

In the case of the photo above, the sun dropped below the overcast sky and provided a beautiful hair or side lighting of golden illumination on Keely’s beautiful hair. A hair light had been placed in the set, however, the dynamic of changing light brought a set of golden highlights into the setting.

Key Four: Measure the Ambient Lighting Value.

That is determine the camera settings that will expose the background to the visual brightness desired. This is accomplished by use of a light meter. Using a Gossen Lumasix ambient light meter, an EV value of 9 was measured, six stops below Sunny Sixteen.

Note: the EV or Exposure Value, provides the selection of a number of aperture vs. shutter speed values to select from of equivalent exposure. In this case, the ambient lighting setting selected for the base camera exposure was as follows; ISO 100, f-3.5 and T 1/50th.

My 24mm-70mm Zeiss lens was set for a focal length of 35mm. These settings establish the baseline exposure around which the auxiliary flash units will be balanced to properly illuminate the subject within the scene.

For visual reference, here is the photo as illuminated by the ambient lighting; ISO 100, f-3.5 T 1/50th. Note the purple hues provided by the sky light and then the golden hues from the sun peeking under the cloud cover.

Key Five: In the next slide, the positions of the lights will be displayed and the various settings for each light based on their relative distance from the subject and the measured value of each light at the subject position.

This photo, captured with my iPhone, shows the positions of the three lights and their relative distances from our model, Keely. An ambient view of the scene shows up in my camera monitor. Click on photo to expand the view.

Key Five (cont’d): Light Positions and Settings

The Main Light, camera right, is elevated to push light across our subject in a downward direction. The shadow under Keely’s chin in the primary photograph at the top of this article, depicts the direction of light set by the main light. Main Light distance from the subject is approximately six feet and the power is set to produce