I thought I’d take a break from talking about weddings and talk about natural light shooting. It’s something I’ve been asked about a lot this year and run some courses on, both one to one tutorials and group tutorials. This normally involves dragging a model around a forest and showing people the best way to take photos of said model in the very varied light we get in the UK. It’s great fun and something I really enjoy. The Fuji system is great for natural light shooting for many reasons…
– the EVF means you can see what you are getting before you pull the trigger
– the x100 series is a sunlight killer, it will effectively triple the power of your flash compared to using a DSLR and high speed sync.
– very light kit makes location shooting a lot less tiring.
– all the lens are super sharp wide open and don’t need micro adjustment, this is huge for natural light shooting where you are often shooting wide apertures.
There are cons..
– slow flash sync speed
– some lenses can struggle with backlight at certain distances, although I’ve not found this to be a big issue.
– flash system in general sucks
However, I’ve managed to get some great shots with flash, which I shall talk about now. I use a Cactus RF60 flash, a nikon SB700 and two Cactus triggers. I find the Cactus triggers to be very reliable and they don’t have the tendency to switch themselves on in your bag that other triggers do. They are a bit big for the Fujis and obscure the shutter dial, but I find them very simple to use. Of course you don’t get High Speed Sync off camera with any flash at the moment on the Fujis ( the Nissins I think will do it on camera ).
Anyway..here is an image..
This was taken with the X100s before I got the Cactus triggers. My previous triggers had, as usual, switched themselves on in the bag and drained the battery, so I triggered the SB700 with the built in x100s flash. I also used the built in 3 stop ND filter in the x100s to really up the sunlight killing power of the flash, as we were fighting with a midday sun that was casting some very unflattering shadows on the model. The flash was on a stand, at full power off to the right and front of the model. Sync speed was 1/1000s and I was at f2. This sort of shot is what the X100s excels at, with its leaf shutter and ND filter it doesn’t need HSS, and you get more flash power for your buck as HSS greatly reduces the power of the flash and we are not using it here.
Next up.. a natural light shot just using a reflector and the 56mm 1.2. The light was very flat here as it was a cloudy day so I just positioned the model so that the flowers would make a pleasing backdrop. The distance between lens and model is important but also the distance between model and background plays a big part in creating pleasing bokeh. I’m not sure I really nailed that here but I still like the shot. A reflector is without doubt the most essential accessory for this type of shoot. If I have an assistant, they will hold it so that the light fills in the face of the model and creates catch lights. Usually I don’t have an assistant so I will often just place it on the ground or prop it up somewhere so that it provides at least a little fill. It’s surprising the difference this makes. If I don’t have a reflector then I will use whatever surface available to reflect light back onto the model in a flattering way. This could just be a light patch of ground the sun is hitting, or a light wall, there is almost always a way.
So in summary the kit I’m using is…
– Fuji X-T1
– Fuji X100s and TCLX100 converter
– Cactus RF 60 flash and 2 Cactus triggers, SB700 flash
– 2 lightstands for the flashes.
– 56mm 1.2, 16mm 1.4, 90mm f2 lenses, I do also use the 50-140 telephoto when I want to compress the image
I don’t carry all this stuff all the time, but its at least in my car if I need it.