On Assignment: Star Gazer

We all have our crutches go-to techniques, and one of mine is using a single flash as a backlight in an otherwise ambient-lit scene. I like the effect because it provides depth, color and separation, which really helps if your image is going to be printed on Charmin newsprint.

Didn't need much flash here. One quarter power (on manual) and the coverage angle on the flash set to 24mm for a nice, wide throw.

The flash is directly behind the guy. If you look closely, you can see the feet of my stand peeking out. In retrospect, I could have easily glopped some snow in front of the feet to hide them. Oh, well. Next time.

Again, the flash is doing double duty by separating the guy with a rimlight and lighting the snow for a good contrast against the twilight sky. But it is also providing fill for the guy's face by bouncing up off of the snow, which is a very efficient reflector.

It was getting pretty dark at the time, so I had the flash on the light stand backwards (with the head turned back around towards me) so the ready light would be visible. This told me that (a) the flash was charged and (b) where, exactly, the flash was so I could position myself to hide it behind the guy while working in dim light.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

appreciate all the info you share with us, but...

[But it is also providing fill for the guy's face by bouncing up off of the snow, which is a very efficient reflector.]

how can the one flash _behind_ the guy throw fill light onto the guys face facing the other side??

December 29, 2006 2:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how can the one flash _behind_ the guy throw fill light onto the guys face facing the other side??

Well, look at all that snow. Suppose that guy looks away from the flash, and it is triggered - is the flash going to be completely invisible to him? Or is the snow going to reflect some light back into his face so that he can see that the flash went off?

April 22, 2007 5:44 AM  
Blogger Fendrri said...

I think the face of the guy got enough light due to the slow shutter speed... correct me if I'm wrong though.

November 16, 2007 12:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the surface of the snow had been completely level, there would have been no light from the strobe reflected back onto the camera side of the man's face. Notice, however, the way the snow is piled up around where he's sitting. It's reflection from the piled-up snow which is lighting him camera-side.

November 26, 2007 6:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the key is the 1/4 power of the flash.

February 27, 2008 3:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The snow works in a similar way as those glass bead and microprismatic reflective stripes on roads. Even if the surface had been flat, the crystals in the snow would shed (at least some)light in all directions.


August 18, 2008 7:14 AM  
Blogger camerark said...

I think you guys are funny!

Nice shot! I definitely like the added flood of the flash on the ground, it really does seperate him and add great contrast as you mentioned. Awesome!

November 11, 2008 5:01 AM  
Anonymous Tor said...

Great image- I love that technique, and can imagine the image without the flash. I'm saving it in my mental rolodex!

May 14, 2009 5:15 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

What was the shutter speed here?

March 17, 2011 2:50 PM  
Blogger Jason Harris said...

The question is what was the ASA or ISO for this shot?

October 21, 2012 9:38 PM  
Blogger dnorton2812 said...

The person in the photo is me. The object I was looking at was the waxing gibbous phase of the moon. There was quite enough light to illuminate not only the snow but my side in the shadow. I also remember David did a bit of eyepiece projection photography through my scope to get a few high mag shots of the moon which were also published in the article this photo appeared in.

May 20, 2013 12:09 AM  

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