Using Speedlights with Landscapes

You might not think a small flash -- or even a flashlight -- could make such a big difference in a landscape photo. But the trick is waiting for the ambient to come to you, and being selective about what you light.

More pix, and how they were made, after the jump.

In Elphotoman's light-painted photo of a campsite (above) he combines a flash inside the tent (with a cooling gel) with light painting on the trees.

The exposure is 30 secs at 2.8, which tells you how low the ambient is. Even so, there is still tone in the sky (which is important remember when choosing that shutter speed) to get a sense of depth in the photo. Click on the pic (as with all of the pics in this post) to see more info on how it was done.

Shot mid-afternoon on a foggy day, Gregory Pleau was able to increase the exposure level on the stump with an SB-600 at camera right. This allowed him to underexpose the ambient-lit snow to create a mood for the whole scene.

There is another strobe (an SB-800) presumably lighting the branches at left to a lower exposure, too.

This stand of beeches, by Patrick Eden, also combines light painting and strobe. The strobes (the effects of which are hard to see at this resolution) are coming in from camera right on some of the trees in the background.

Again, waiting for the ambient to drop low enough to allow you time to work is important. Especially if you are light painting, too. Just remember to use the shutter to control the tonal range of your waning sky.

Last but not least, JohnTPleaser uses the technique of spotlighting a portion of his shot (in this case a date palm, in Costa Rica) which was done in the daytime in mottled shade.

Note that he is shooting into the ambient light, which creates shadows in the camera side of the trees. This allows him to bring up the tree and add some texture with a strobe mounted on a voice-activated light stand at camera left.

The above landscape photos jumped out at me during a recent scan of the Strobist Flickr pool. Have you been experimenting with small flashes out in the wild? Hit us with some URLs in the comments.


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