Speedlight Sunset

I love photographing on overcast days. The light is soft, the colors are saturated, and the subjects don’t squint as much. But sometimes the images come out a little flat and lack impact…kinda just blah. Fortunately, I have a great little tip to keep all the benefits of the soft natural light, but add a little extra POP back into the image.

Here’s a little technique I call “Speedlight Sunset”. My preferred setup is to work with 2 or 3 speedlights mounted together on my home-made triple-threat flash bracket. Having multiple flashes ganged together provides me with extra power, directionality, and versatility when needed. But you can definitely do this with just one speedlight as well.

Instead of using your wireless off-camera flash as a fill or main light, place it far back behind your subject in the corner of the frame. For best effect, I try to have it shining through a background element like some low-hanging leaves or a clump of Spanish moss. This serves to obscure the true source of the light, and also defuse the quality of the light so that it looks more like the real thing. For best effect, you should also add a CTO gel over the flash. Also known as Color Temperature Orange, this piece of plastic changes the color of the light source to a deep warm tone, like that of a setting sun.

I prefer to trigger my wireless off-camera flashes with radio waves. Nikon’s built in Creative Lighting System is free and will do the job up to a certain distance as long as the Master flash and the Remote flash can see each other. But to place your flash further distances away, or hide it behind leaves and trees, you’ll need a radio triggering system. I sometimes use RadioPoppers to trigger my older Nikon SB-800 flashes. PocketWizard is another great solution that’s out there. But with the new Nikon D5 (as in this case) and Nikon D500 cameras, I can remotely trigger my Nikon SB-5000 flashes via the built-in AWL (Advanced Wireless Technology). I just plug in the WR-R10 Remote Controller, and away we go!

Many thanks to Kelli and Tom for being so much fun to work with on their beautiful maternity shoot.  Check out more of their images and see more samples of this Speedlight Sunset at:  http://chrisandcami.com/kelli-tom-at-hampton-park/.

I hope this helps open up some ideas and possibilities for taking your images to the next level. Speedlights are small, light, and portable. But they can make a HUGE difference in the quality and creativity of your images!

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