So a continuation of my last post: Lighting with Speedlights!  Below is a self portrait I took last night messing around with my speedlights and a umbrella as the main light.

Umbrellas as a bounce are great because they surround the object (in this case myself) pretty evenly with light.  Now in this case I was using a 46″ umbrella so it had a lot of light.  It was placed just to camera right and up a little bit aimed down.

My first thing when doing a shot like this is set up and shoot the background and get a good feel for what I need to do to expose that correctly.  Then I figure what I need to do to light the foreground.  Here I knew I wasn’t going to need much light since I had some help from the  inside lights.  So I left my diffuser on the flash and put it up in the umbrella.   I then took a test shot and noticed I was way too heavy on the light so I dialed it down to -1 and still was too high for the look I wanted.  (I don’t like to use too much flash, just enough to draw the details out).  So I dialed down to -2 and it seemed good.  So I set myself up in the ‘model’ position and tested it out and I knew my background was a little blown out.  I was in aperture mode so I just dialed down the comp to -0.7 and it felt good.  My final settings on this shot were ISO 800, f/4, 0.6 sec (I always use rear sync on flash so I can drag the shutter and freeze the subject) and ex at -0.7.  

I wanted to use a rim light on this shot, but do to the size of the balcony this was a no go since I would get too much balcony and not enough Chicago.  I guess I could have hung it out through the window behind me, but I didn’t want to risk the flash taking a 25 story plunge.

Now a good tip, I totally forgot to gel the flash and I had to do some masking between the flash light and the ambient since they were off.  This was more laziness since my gels were so far away just inside the door and I was cold and wanted to get this over with :-).  So TIP: Always gel your flash, it saves so much time in post and time wasted getting angry at yourself while masking it!!