hard is beautiful

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In portraiture you want your light to be soft. The softer the better. You need a big softbox so the light will wrap around your subject and create that perfect shot. Right? Well...

Obviously that's bull since it all depends on where you want to go with your image. And I'm starting to really like hard light. I'm an avid fan of David Hobby' Strobist for all kinds of good reasons. Obviously the wealth of information he gives out is second to none, but I also enjoy it when he links to other blogs or online ressources. I've found quite a few sites that are now part of my regular inspirational browsing, among which the Redux blog. It's basically a showcase for the Redux agency with the main page displaying the recent work of its photographers. It's updated constantly - these guys get around. And the work is fantastic. Now as a good strobist I tend to try and retro-engineer the light setups in the pictures I see. It's become a bit of a reflex. And I'm seeing a lot of very strong hard light in the Redux covers. There's a look. It's not everywhere but when I see it in use I get all... tingly ;-)

So I've started experimenting with it for fun. These shots were taken last weekend with "GASP" straight on-camera flash. No diffuser dome, nothing. Obviously the goal was to balance the ambient but I wanted to get the feeling of the flash in there - I wasn't looking to masquerade it or blend it in. I wanted these to feel a little unreal.

I used an SB-900 with its zoom at 200. Apertures between f6.3 and f11, shutter speeds between 640 and 1600 - this is where Auto FP mode shines: there's no way I could've overpowered the sun at a flash sync speed of 250 or 320. The only exceptions in the bunch are the last two pics. Still hard flash but a lower shutter speed and off-camera + snooted for the last shot of my -very- pregnant girlfriend (!).

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