Learning to light

I’ve had a single Canon 430EXII for a few years and mostly use it on camera when at weddings for shots in the crowd, at the reception:

Single on Camera Flash
Single On Camera Flash

Whilst the subjects are having a great time and this can be seen from their expressions, the lighting is so so.  So times it is just important to get the image and capture the moment, and in the case of weddings, that is certainly true.  The bride doesn’t care how a photo is lit as long as the image evokes the awesome feeling of the day.  I normally would have bounced the light off a wall or ceiling but unfortunately, the ceiling was a glass dome that was too high, and we were too far away from the wall.

I decided to buy a second flash (Neewer something something) which was about £30.  Adding in a second light behind the subject helps to cut them out of the background.

I’m still waiting on my Octabox (Softbox) to arrive, but I decided to give the two speed light session a go without the aid of light softening modfiers and in an enclosed space.  The setup was as follows:

Lighting Setup

This is a diagram of my living room (I’m such an artist!).  1: The Neweer Flash set to half power gelled green and pointed at the wall.  The wall is white (or eggshell, or cream…or whatever people call white paint these days) which helps to take on the green colour.  Pointing the flash at the wall also helps to provide a huge back light to cut the subject (in this case me) out of the back ground.

I then had a second Flash at 2: gelled purple and an omnibounce on the top.  Due to a lack of reflector, I was trying to help get enough light under my chin to stop it becoming dark and accentuating my…ahem….less than desirable squidgy chin.

The camera (at 3) was straight on and set to a 10-second timer.

Here is the final result:

Self Portrait
Self Portrait


There are a few thing I learned doing this:

  1. My beard trimming SUCKS, I look like I have a goatee
  2. Using colours that are opposite on the colour wheel really adds to the image
  3. Having a soft box would have key lighting easier
  4. Having a flash meter would have taken a good 10 minutes off the setup!
  5. Don’t go too heavy on the purple in the face
  6. Keep the key light (the one lighting the subject) slightly higher than eye line for more flattering results

I’m not particularly happy with the shadow but as I was using a bare flash, this can’t be helped really.

Lastly, I had set up a white sheet over the window with the idea to soften the light and use it to fill in the shadows.  I’m not convinced this actually worked and would have been better with a reflector.

Does anyone have any advice?  Please leave it in the comment section