Painting With Flash is a technique that is well suited for photographing objects that are highly reflective, such as the Contax. Done properly, the technique can create soft, non-specular highlights, incredible detail, and shadowless exposures similar to those you could achieve using a light tent, but with a much smaller investment in equipment. To make this shot, all you need are:
- A clean, flat surface for your subject to support your subject.,
- A camera capable of small shooting apertures (F16 or smaller),
- Two fast-recycling flashes,
- Light modifiers of your choice ,
- A steady tripod, and
- A dark room in which to work.
The Setup: This shot was an attempt to show you what's going on in the darkened workspace. In my left hand, you can see a speedlight with a small softbox, triggered by a remote trigger in my right hand (More on that later). On the floor, there is an optically triggered flash with a Gary Fong Cloud Dome aimed to direct light towards the foreground while lighting the scene from underneath. It's partially hidden by a book I used to prevent light spill into the camera mounted on the tripod. And yes, the plane of focus is on the tripod, which explains my out of focus-ness.
Next, I'll manually trip the camera shutter. I now have 20 seconds to position my key light, trigger it with the controller, and re-position the light about 8 inches from its current location, and trigger the flash again. I'll do this as many times as I can, which means about 15 pops if my key light flash is recycling quickly enough. Each time I trigger my main light, I am simultaneously triggering my foot light, so that after 15 pops, my foot light has given me the equivalent of a full power burst of light. And because I move the key light after each shot, the highlights grow, and flow, into each other, giving me the large, soft highlights I wanted in the first place.
New be forewarned, the results are not always perfect the first time. But with a little practice, you'll start to get photos with plenty of fine detail in the shadows (if you have any) and no burnt out highlights.
If I had it to do over, I put a bit more light on Contax's right side, which is noticeably darker than the left. But overall, the normal glare-prone chrome finish glows more than sparkles, and there is lots of detail in the knurling of the control knobs.
They really don't make them like they used to!