It was bound to happen. I was just starting a senior session. I had the location picked out, but I needed some flash to brighten up the scene. I set up my light, took my first shot, and got nothing. My flash didn’t go off. I checked my settings, tried again, still nothing. The pressure was on, but I had to find a quick solution. I quickly evaluated the situation and came up with a workaround solution and went on with the rest of the shoot. The session was a blast, and we spent the better part of the afternoon moving from location to location and got some great shots.
Problem solved, right? Nope. What went wrong? I still didn’t know what the problem was, and even though it was a successful session, I still needed to figure it out. I admit, I obsessed about this for a while going through the checklist of things that I had tried. Finally, while I was out raking some leaves, still thinking about this, I saw something that inspired me.
The sun was dropping from the sky and was creating a golden glow in the afternoon sky. I decided this would be a great opportunity to test my gear. The quickly hatched plan was to test my lights to make sure everything worked so that I could repair or replace any gear that wasn't operating correctly. I also took it as an opportunity to use some new tools.
The scene is pretty basic. It's looking out my backyard into an open field. I did some adjustments to darken the background first.
Because it was still bright outside, I used my new ND filter to darken the scene enough to create a darker background while keeping my flash sync speed low enough to avoid having to use high speed sync. Blah, blah, blah, that just means I was trying to keep everything dark and add flash for some mood.
Next I stepped in front of the camera as the subject (sorry folks, my models aren't always 10s). The light from the sun over my right shoulder created some nice highlights from the side.
I next added the flash that I was testing and this served as my main light. It was simple set up. I made several photographs. Nothing special, just enough to finish testing my flash so I would be ready for next time. This is one of the shots I got.
That was it! I determined the problem with my flash and have a more permanent solution in case I run into the same problem during a session. It's all about being prepared, practicing the skills needed for the job, and knowing that the desired results are possible (even if it's just me in front of the camera).