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Fill flash for Landscapes

Andy_Curtis 5 808 United Kingdom
18 Jun 2018 8:58AM
Hi all,

I have a question regarding a technique for Landscape photography.
I've seen many images of a beautiful landscape, everything is correctly in focus and exposed, but the flowers in the foreground are vibrant and bright.
I have tried replicating these images by focus and exposure bracketing and blending them into a HDR, but the flowers still don't have the same "pop" as those you tend to see on Instagram. Its hard to explain the images I am thinking of without 'grabbing' someone else's. Ill try to provide a link.

I suddenly had a thought that perhaps they are using a flash for the foreground? So, focus on the flowers, and use TTL flash to light them up and make them bright and vibrant, then remove the flash and continue to take a few more shots with focus bracketing, and then blending them.

I'll try this tonight, but thought I'd ask here first in case its something completely different that I am missing.

I hope this makes sense Smile


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sausage Plus
15 609 United Kingdom
18 Jun 2018 9:11AM
Yes Andy, that would be the way I would do it. I would use the flash with different exposures to blend with the overall effect when you come to post production.
I wouldn't want the flowers to be unnaturally bright for instance.
Good Luck
Andy_Curtis 5 808 United Kingdom
18 Jun 2018 9:14AM
Thanks for the reply Smile

I have all evening to practice with the flash, the spot I have in mind is only a 10 minute drive so I will experiment multiple methods and see which is best in post production.

LenShepherd 11 4.1k United Kingdom
18 Jun 2018 9:41AM
What you can do (it varies a bit with the camera and flash) is
1/ find the right scene
2/ set the camera to underexpose by about half to 1 stop.
This under-exposes the general scene and - at this stage of the technique - the flash output on the flowers as well.
3/ then instruct the flash (independent of the camera exposure) to over expose by half to 1 stop.
This correctly exposes the foreground flowers leaving more distance detail under-exposed.
Philh04 Plus
14 2.1k United Kingdom
18 Jun 2018 10:52AM
It is probably more to do with the available light, its quality and skill in post...

Personally I wouldn't use flash, it is going to be harsh and uninteresting, unless you are prepared to cart suitable modifiers, also the fall off will possibly cause problems, the method Len describes is overpowering the available light, a method often used in outdoor portraiture and generally needs a suitable sized modifier with the flash off camera.

Perhaps a much more controllable method would be to use a large reflector (either silver/gold or one of the hybrid type) to bounce light back towards the foreground, a polarising filter will also help (not for the sky but to increase the saturation of your flowers)
LenShepherd 11 4.1k United Kingdom
18 Jun 2018 11:47AM

Personally I wouldn't use flash)

While the OP has yet to provide a link to the exact effect required, flash used the way I suggest is particularly good when the background is distracting, as distractions appear less obvious when under exposed.
The technique I suggested can also be useful for outdoor flower or fungi shots where the subject is close to a distracting background.
I agree the larger the surface area of a flash (with the aid of a flash modifier) the softer the flash light becomes.
Philh04 Plus
14 2.1k United Kingdom
18 Jun 2018 12:15PM

Quote:flash used the way I suggest is particularly good when the background is distracting

However the OP is talking about Landscapes...

A modifier large enough to be effective will be more than likely impractical. I know I would rather tote my 50cm x 100cm soft silver reflector rather than a 50cm x 100cm softbox together with a strobe with enough power to fill the modifier. (size of modifier will obviously vary but ideally it needs to be at least as large as the area you wish to light)

It is not just the surface area of any modifier that creates a soft light, there is a lot more involved.

A large collapsable reflector will provide 'soft' light when positioned correctly, be easier to transport plus you will get feed back on what the reflector is doing to your light
Andy_Curtis 5 808 United Kingdom
18 Jun 2018 12:19PM
Sorry, took ages to find an example with a link I can actually use.... something like this....

Philh04 Plus
14 2.1k United Kingdom
18 Jun 2018 12:28PM

Quote:Sorry, took ages to find an example with a link I can actually use.... something like this....


That will be down to post processing and the quality of the light when the image was taken, IMO try to use Flash and you will just kill it... a reflector to push some light into the shadows a polariser to enhance the saturation of the flowers and then some skilful post processing.
Chrism8 13 934 26 England
18 Jun 2018 1:39PM
As Phil has mentioned above, that's at least an ND grad and more than likely 2 or more exposures combined with some skilful processing.

Andy_Curtis 5 808 United Kingdom
18 Jun 2018 1:43PM
I shall not bother with the flash then.
Might look at investing in some reflectors though. seem to be plenty on the Amazonian website for a decent price.
ChrisV Plus
13 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
18 Jun 2018 1:47PM
Could be very large reflectors, but the fall off [as far as it goes] does seem to be too gradual even for heavily diffused flash. ND grads+ multiple exposures does sound more feasible.
Andy_Curtis 5 808 United Kingdom
18 Jun 2018 1:50PM
Annoyingly I don't have any Grad filters. Only full ones. I should finally stop procrastinating and purchase some grads.
Philh04 Plus
14 2.1k United Kingdom
18 Jun 2018 2:12PM
If you analyse the image it was taken either shortly after sunrise or just before sunset when the light is going to be at its best quality (more atmosphere to pass through which will 'soften' the light and add to the saturated tones).

In this case yes a Grad ND filter was used (not very well), but to be honest in this day and age many are leaving their grads at home, the same or even better can be achieved in post processing... this image could be achieved with a simple mask in whatever software you use and would take no more than a few seconds. I only carry a set of full ND's and a Polariser. A polariser will increase your saturation on that foreground and help it to pop, the rest is down to the PP.

Pump a little extra light into the foreground with a large reflector, you don't need a lot, just enough to lift the shadows....

The thing with trying to do this with flash is that to achieve a diffused source you need your modifier to be at least as large as the foreground you want to light, it also needs to be close , this will give you a soft, pleasing light which will wrap around and provide a good quality of modelling, so in this case a very large modifier would need to have been transported to the location, and a strobe with enough power to utilise such a modifier would need to be used. The biggest downside though is the fall off, i.e the inverse square law comes into play...
sherlob Plus
13 3.1k 129 United Kingdom
18 Jun 2018 2:21PM

IMHO the problem with flash is that it can appear that the light illuminating the scene is coming from a different direction to the sun. In the example shown, I feel certain that flash hasn't been used, but rather the image has been well balanced with filtration and then carefully post processed (the FG having selective contrast and saturation adjustments applied).

In the last 12 months I have incorporated luminosity masking into my post production workflow - this is a particularly powerful technique for making selective adjustments to an image and for exposure blending (avoiding the need for HDR). Take a look at the Lumenzia plug in by Greg Benz - its a fab tool and not too expensive. I've found it it has helped enhance my landscape images to a new level whilst retaining a natural feel (imho).


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