Godox

Use of Off-camera Flash for Natural Light Portraits by Karthik Rajagopal

Most documentary photographers, street photographers and some of the candid wedding photographers consider it a sin to use flash for natural light portraiture. Is it because they really want to keep the pictures close to reality? Let’s take a reality check at the real reason.

After talking with a few portrait photographers who have only shot in natural light on why they do not use an external flash for their portraiture I narrowed down the reason to two points.

  1. Most photographers had a horrible experience with the use of on camera flash.

  2. Many of them who hate flash don't make an effort to learn about flash photography.

As photographers it easier explained with pictures than typing paragraphs of text. Here is a particular portrait of a tea-estate worker I shot in Kothagiri during the course of a post-wedding outdoor couple shoot. It was a compulsive shot for me as I saw a women dressed in scarlet saree in a green background with beautiful warm backlight from setting sun.

Shot without Flash   |   Camera Sony A7R II with Zeiss Batis 85 mm f/1.8

Shot without Flash   |   Camera Sony A7R II with Zeiss Batis 85 mm f/1.8

The first shot is one I did without a fill flash. I could have recovered shadows and with face mask I could have almost brightened her face. But, if the shadows were a little more darker recovering would have certainly produced losses.

Filled with Light from Godox AD200 with 60 cm soft box| Sony A7R II with Zeiss Batis 85 mm f/1.8

Filled with Light from Godox AD200 with 60 cm soft box| Sony A7R II with Zeiss Batis 85 mm f/1.8

Fortunately this time my friend Praveen was waiting with a Godox AD200 with a 60 cm softbox equipped with a boompole. As soon as he saw me shooting he was at the spot for the next shot to light her. In such a situation it is quite difficult to judge the flash intensity you need to get a good fill. I trusted on TTL with a -1 dialed in to retain some of the shadows. This is almost like holding a white reflector to reflect the sunlight onto her face. While using a reflector is not possible in all situations, a portable flash comes handy.

I trust I did not kill this picture with a flash. I did not do any exposure changes on this image in the raw processor to represent the pictures as shot for better understanding.

The idea of writing this blog was just to get people who never tried off camera portable flash for lighting natural light portraits. Please feel free to comment and write to me. Based on your inputs I 'll probably throw more light on using off-camera flash.

 

Godox AD200 - An EXPERIENCE as review by Karthik Rajagopal

This review of Godox AD200 comes from my recent experience of shooting a fashion/ fitness shoot for our brand Souldeepskin (www.souldeepskin.com). You may like to check our this website for really cool and quality tee shirts.

Shot with tow Elinchrom FRX 400 lights

Shot with tow Elinchrom FRX 400 lights

Let me start this review by telling you that I am not going to explain my experience using AD200 with any kind of numbers. This is not going to be a technical review. I am just going to share my practical experience as a professional photographer on the move with little or no help from assistants.

Shot with AD200 on 80 cm soft box

Shot with AD200 on 80 cm soft box

As a solo photographer on the move, it is very important for me to travel light. I have used powered Elinchroms and bigger Godox lights like AD600 , even the elite ones like the Profoto B1X, B2  and Broncolor which have worked amazingly well. While all these lights worked great, they were never compact. They always demanded me to travel on a car and asked for reservation on the car’s boot space. For simple shoots in low budget I believe in leaving my car at home and sleeping overnight on a bus. That helps me save time and the fuel burnt on transport.

AD200 with Softbox for Fill and V860 II as backlight

AD200 with Softbox for Fill and V860 II as backlight

Speedlights were always a hit or miss. They suffer from heating issues, longer re-charging times and lower output. This always forced me to use powered studio strobes are larger outdoor flash units for portrait sessions. There was always a need for a solution in between. I used the AD200 first time in a workshop I conducted with my friend R Prasana Venkatesh as the mentor and then on an outdoor fashion shoot with MAKKA STUDIOS.

AD200 with Softbox for Fill and V860 II as backlight

AD200 with Softbox for Fill and V860 II as backlight

This time I had two Elinchrom FRX400 apart from a Godox V860 II and AD 200 to be triggered with an X1Ts on a Sony A7R II. The idea was to shoot some fitness freaks in a Gym wearing fitnessed themed tee shirts from Souldeepskin for their social media promotion. It was a realistic shoot with real members of that Gym. I started the shoot by using to FRX400, one light to serve as a fill and other as a backlight. An hour went by and I just had very few acceptable shots. I realized it was time for me to speed up the shoot and I decided to shutdown the cabled lights. Presence of cables posed several constraints with light movement inside the gym. Unless it is a studio space or a place with open floor, cabled lights can draw a lot of time.

AD200 lighting from the Right Side with Softbox

AD200 lighting from the Right Side with Softbox

So, I shifted to a set of Godox AD200 as my Keylight and V860 II after first few shots. I was really able to move around and make the best use of location. I just asked one of my friends there to handhold AD200 in desired position and moved the speedlight for desired rim light and highlights. I used AD200 with bare bulb and an 80 cm Godox softbox mounted on a S-bracket. With (transmitter) X1Ts I was able to control the fill light and back-light in different groups. With both lights set on TTL, I was able to make finer adjustment on the trigger itself. So, anyone help for holding the light is suffice and with this setup in place, I did not require any professional help.

A single fill light from AD200 with softbox. Sunlight from window

A single fill light from AD200 with softbox. Sunlight from window

I shot about 409 pictures with 77 selected by the client for publishing in a time of about 4.5 hours. Without any second thought I could fill shadows against daylight. While the flash maynot be able to overpower direct sunlight during mid-day, it can be surely used in 80% of the situations. The recycle time was really good and I missed less than 5% of the shots which is acceptable to me. After firing about 300 shots with this light, I still had 50% of the battery left. Another nice thing about this Li-on battery is that it recharges approximately in an hour. The Fresnel attachment is good when you need direct light. I wish it had an adjustable zoom head.

A single fill light from AD200 with softbox. Sunlight from window give the mood to this shot

A single fill light from AD200 with softbox. Sunlight from window give the mood to this shot

The only issue that I had is while using HSS where the light failed to fire. I had to power-cycle the flash to get it working normally. I think Godox needs to resolve this issue. It could be a problem pertaining to the Sony trigger. I need to test it with a Canon/ Nikon Trigger to confirm if this is a problem with the light or the trigger.

AD200 with Softbox for Fill and V860 II for creating the desired highlites.

AD200 with Softbox for Fill and V860 II for creating the desired highlites.

Overall, I am quite happy with this pocket light which gives three times the power as a speedlight. Today I can travel light with AD200 and my existing V860 II for most of my run and gun shoots without any second thoughts. May be I need to add a few mods to get a variety of lighting effect. The Godox AD600 Pro is already released and I can't wait to test it. This light could be my perfect partner for shoots demanding higher power and fast recycle times. Nevertheless, AD200 has taken a permanent position in my camera bag.

Thank you HSR fitness world and Souldeepskin for this opportunity. I thank Jagadish for helping me with Lighting.