Since I was in my recovery mode, I decided to adopt a minimalist approach so far as equipment was concerned. My reduced kit included 2 Fuji X-E1 bodies, a 35m F1.4, an 18mm F2, and a 60 F2.4 Macro which would double as a short telephoto lens. A Fuji EF-42 flash is stuffed somewhere, sometimes in a pocket or secondary pouch. A notepad and pen, and a single spare battery for the Fuji complete the outfit.
My first assignment would be photographed in an open exercise room with a low ceiling and white walls, an ideal bounce flash environment. For this, I brought a Yongnuo 560 flash with a supplementary 8-AA cell battery pack. Mounted in the hot-shoe of my 18mm equipped X-E1, proper exposures was obtained at full power, giving an even lighting that would reproduce well. A number of factors began to work in my favor. First, the north-facing windows allowed skylight to reflect off of the hardwood floors, creating some interesting visuals to the image. Exposure required some unusually long exposure times (1/15, F 4.5, ISO 200), but the low level of ambient light allowed the brief light burst of the flash to freeze most of the foreground at about 1/1000 of a second, giving me images that were sharp except for some edge blurring created by subject movement.
In the end, the lead shot was chosen. It had a number of key elements:
- Engaged Child In The Foreground: Beasts, babes, babies, and blood make for engaging photos, and a young boy, “exercising" with his mother, adds both to the subliminal context and visual appeal. The convergence of the background lines on my young subjects head was purely an accident, albeit a happy one.
- High Kick: When photographing indoors, we often deal with multiple light sources of varying intensities and colors. The elevated leg does not melt into the background, and helps us make sense of the odd, floating athletic shoe belonging to the woman at the right.
- Multiple Characters: This particular class was not as well attended as it deserved to be, and I wanted to give the impression that this would be a good place for a woman to exercise while keeping her child close at hand. Three adults can be seen in the photo, the only three students who attended that day.
One final note on flash selection: The head of the Yongnuo 560 is capable of 180 degree rotation to the left and only 90 degrees to the right. This turned out to be a more serious limitation than I had anticipated, as it limited the direction of my light pretty much to camera left. Even the Fuji flash rotates 120 degrees to the right, just enough to move my light to a slightly better position. But it’s minimal power and inability to take a supplementary battery pack make the Fuji of lesser usefulness despite is TTL capability. For this, a Nikon SB900 might prove to be a better choice on future assignments, although the Yongnuo gives a shooter a lot of flash for the money if you're just starting out.
Okay, this shot makes me grin. I wish I could say I did something to prompt this along, but it was a total grab shot.