You can get away with available light most of the time, especially if you're doing a swimsuit shoot. Oftentimes, these are done outdoors - by a swimming pool or at the beach. For such situations, you'll probably only need reflectors and diffusion panels to have some control of sunlight. Or even use direct sunlight. Sunset would usually be an ideal time to shoot. But sometimes, shoot schedules go beyond the planned time - and the sun will never wait for anyone. It will simply set "as scheduled" and you will be left without sunlight.
Sometimes, you're not yet done with your photoshoot so what can you do? Simple - just pull out your "pocket sunlight". I'm talking about your speedlights, of course. However, aiming that flash directly at your model does not make a convincing sunlight. What you need it to do is to mimic sunlight. Can you believe that the first photo on top was lit by a strobe? There's a second light, of course, used to illuminate the back of the model which is in the shadow area.
The photo above is what it exactly looked like when we did the shoot. Yes it's deliberately underexposed but that's to show the lighting condition we were working under. Right then, I knew that the lighting setup I usually do will not work - it will, but it's not right for that particular situation. I had to think of something else. That's when I remembered a technique done by the corporate photographer David Tejada (There's plenty to be explored in his blog. I suggest you do a lot of reading there as well).
I set the main light (the strobe) at a considerable distance from the model and allowed a few foliage to get in the way to create some shadow patterns on the wall. The flash zoom was manually set to 24mm for a broad throw because I'm using it, not only to illuminate the model, but also to light up the background wall and create those shadows. But the "secret" really is this - a 1/2 CTO gel to warm-up the flash light and then set the camera's white balance to daylight. Cool, huh!? (or should I say hot?)
The second light was elementary and was there simply to bring out details from the shadows. Low powered, around 1/32 or 1/64 - I can't remember exactly now. These settings have almost become second nature to me that I don't bother anymore with numbers and exact settings.
Labels: lighting photography