After a couple of days with a desperate urge to buy more photography light of some kind or the other today I managed to get the urge under control. I have been looking at everything from a full blown studio flash setup to second hand flashes. And not least I have been looking at equipment to aid lighting. Umbrellas, softboxes, remote triggers like RadioPopper or PocketWizard. Reason set in today and I realized that I am already the happy owner of an extra flash and an optical trigger that will do nicely for the pictures I'd like to take. So tonight I was playing with the flashes.
I have two flashes. A Canon Speedlite 430EX that my camera can control. Furthermore, I have an old Canon Speedlite 530EZ that is more powerful but unfortunately the EZ line of flashes don't support E-TTL so it will only work with manual settings. I bought an optical trigger for this flash so it can be triggeren by another flash firing - e.g. one mounted on the camera.
The picture I was initially out to get was a simple portrait with normal lighting from the front and a powerful kicker from behind. The first attempt was done in my living room and the desired effect did appear. But we have white walls in the living room so the light bounced and everything was to bright to be really work.
Then we moved into the garden. The kicker was mounted on a tripod. The height of the tripod was set so the flash was placed right below the shoulders of "victim". The tripod was placed in the middle of the lawn. The "victim" was placed about two meters in front of the tripod so her head and body covered the tripod in the picture. I was placed a couple of meters further away with the 430 flash on the camera. That flash had a difuser mounted at had the torch pointed straight ahead. From the first couple of shots in the living room I had a pretty good idea about which settings to use. I only had to correct the apeture a bit before everything was perfect.
The effect ended up exactly as I envisioned it. But the picture is a bit off in composition which I would correct if this was anything more than just playing around. The setup in the garden was improvised. If I had been better prepared for photographing outside I would have made sure to have some kind of pilot light to assist. It had helped on the composition of the picture and had made it easier to get the right focus. Furthermore, my optical trigger was a bit unreliable when I took it outside. The trigger had a hard time detecting the primary flash. It helped to turn the camera 90 degrees so the flash could get "around" the model a bit better. But still the second flash only triggered in about half of the pictures. But I guess that is the cost when you are too cheap to buy propper radio triggers.
Finally a very light retouching, cropping and converting to black/white and the picture was done. When you use your garden for flash photography after dark you have to live with the curious onlooking and teasing comments from your neighbors.