Sunday, July 5, 2009

What's A Clamshell?

I was fortunate enough to purchase a Nikon SB900 Speedlight (a camera flash). I have been eyeing this one for several months now and finally got up enough nerve to make the purchase. Joe McNallys book, "The Hot Shoe Diaries" has been instrumental helping my understanding.

One of the reasons that this flash is so useful is that it works using the Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS). This system en
ables the flash and the camera to "have a conversation" about how much light should be used to properly expose the subject. The Canon equivalent is "eTTL" which does pretty much the same thing. The amazing thing about both of these systems is that this conversation happens in a few milliseconds and yields some pretty impressive results!

In this shot...
The Nikon D90 camera acted as the master unit, controlling the output of the new SB900 (camera left at 7 feet high and aiming downward) and the SB600 (camera left at 2 feet high and aiming upward). Each flash was softened using a translucent "shoot through" umbrella. I used a white bounce card (camera right) to light her left side. The background was illuminated using my old Vivitar flash with the hot shoe slave. Because the studio is shallow, I had a tough time getting the background lit evenly. Here is the set up shot for reference:

Because ...
The umbrellas are facing one another, the setup is referred to as a "clam shell". One nice thing about this type of a set up is that both flashes are on one lightstand making it very easy to adjust. The lower flash is held in place on the stand using a Justin clamp.

As you may have noticed by now, I tend to gravitate toward inexpensive (don't say cheap...) studio equipment. One reason for this is that I see the real value in the high tech electronics (flashes, camera bodies, slaves and the like). A simple satin umbrella, or tubular steel lightstand is relatively low-tech and should be priced accordingly.

One thing

That I notice now, is that I tend to look at magazines, websites, and billboards differently. I'm looking for how the lighting was done. And now I'm starting to understand!

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