Adventures of a father and a photographer. Tales about the mystery and excitement of family travel.

tiistai 16. tammikuuta 2018

Capturing Santa

A couple of years ago, after reading Joe McNally's books about flash photography (and other things, read the books!) I got very excited about using external flashes with my camera. I bought a couple of Yongnuo flashes and a bunch of radio triggers and started experimenting.

In December I got this bright idea to give the traditional Christmas photos a boost with external flashes. In my mind I saw these bright, colorful photos taken with multiple external flashes beautifully synced with radio triggers.

I made a lighting plan where to place the flashes. One of them would be attached to the book shelf, one on top of the book shelf to reflect the light from the ceiling and one would be on the other side of the living room to give some background lighting. All of them would be fired with radio triggers.

In Finland, Santa Claus actually comes to your house on Christmas Eve in person, chats a while with the kids, hands out the presents and listens to the Christmas carols sung by the children. So, I had to plan where Santa would sit for the optimal lighting. In my plan I had the children and their presents positioned evenly in the living room, too.

When I was trying out the setup about a week before Christmas, I suddenly realized something. What if Santa sits in a wrong place? What if the kids decide to pile their present in the incorrect positions? The lighting would be all wrong! The Christmas photos would be ruined!

Then it hit me: You really cannot plan the Christmas Eve lighting. It's the best day of the year for the kids. They won't act according to any plan. They will do what kids do at Christmas Eve. They'll jump up and down and run around and couldn't care less about Daddy's flashes or cameras or radio triggers.

So, the best plan for the bid day would be: When Santa comes, I'll just grab my camera and try to take as many photos as you can. There will be misses, poor lighting and unsharp photos, but at least I'll be able to be part of the kids' fun and excitement.

And so I trashed the plan, attached the flash to my camera and just tried to capture the spirit of Christmas on that Christmas Eve.

Yongnuo YN-468II E-TTL flash

I have a few of the Chinese Yongnuo flashes and I'm very pleased with them. They perform quite well for the price. They are quite reliable, produce beautiful light and charge pretty fast, too. That said, I admit I shoot mostly with natural light, but if somebody wants to learn flash photography, the Yongnuo flashes are an excellent choice. You will be able to pay your bills after acquiring a couple of these. And they make radio triggers, too.

You can read more about the flash here.


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