My goal was simple: I wanted the convenience on on-camera flash but wanted my subjects to stand out from the background. And since Cissie was out Trick-Or-Treating, I was on my own.
I would be working in our large, multi-purpose room. As you can see, it's not particularly interesting, being lit by overhead fluorescent tubes of mixed color output. I decided to underexpose the image until only the tubes were lit, thinking they would make interesting visual highlights. You can see from Photo #2 that getting details in the ceiling meant letting the rest of the room go completely dark.
Since even lighting on the distant walls was not my goal, I decided to simply add some randomly placed speedlights to accent parts of the wall. Since I wanted the background to reflect a cold feeling, I decided to set the camera's white balance setting to Incandescent and let the ungelled background lights "chill out". This would mean that I needed to gel my key light source, an on-camera SB-800 speedlight with a full CTO taped in front of the flashtube. I added a Gary Fong Lightsphere to the speedlight and felt ready to start experimenting.
Composite #1Five speedlights were placed on stands and aimed at the background walls. The arrows in Composite #1 shows where they were placed. There wasn't a practical way to light all four walls, so I had to try to shoot my subjects in front of the lit backgrounds. Incidentally, I set them to SU-4 Manual mode with flash outputs in the 1/8 to 1/16 power range. Clearly there was more than enough power for the purpose.
Small Groups: This small group (Photo #7) took advantage of a bit of light coming from the side wall. While not an ideal photo, that hint of light in the background gave the subjects an improved sense of separation from the background. If you look at the background, you can see that the light from the on-camera flash doesn't light the background subjects very well. On the other hand, it helps to keep the viewers eyes "up front" and on your subjects.
|Photo #9 Exposure F8.0, 1/100 second, ISO 1600|