How to set exposure using the gray card method using a one light setup

April 21, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

Hello and Happy Spring! I have mentioned that I wanted to start putting out some blog posts to help out fellow photographers and show off some of my work! I currently shoot with a Canon 6D, typically with my Sigma 50mm 1.4 Art lens. I use two Godox Ad200's off camera in an AdB2 adapter in either a 16 inch beauty dish or a 32"x 32" softbox. The beauty dish seems to give me more contrast when it comes to separating the subject from the background and really gives the photo a nice "pop", not including that it is also extremely easy to transport. Although I do grab my softbox from time to time when I want to get very soft light. 

 

 

Spring has finally arrived!

It was an absolutely beautiful day and I really wanted to get out and capture some of the beautiful first blooms of spring. We drove around the neighborhood for a few minutes scoping out a suitable location. This tree caught our eyes and we decided to set up here. We were shooting at about midday on a very sunny day so I knew any shade would be beneficial. I had my model pose with her back left shoulder to the sun as shown in the second photo below, and changed my settings to basically expose for how I wanted the background to look. At this time I still had my flash turned off. I made sure none of my highlights were blown out including the sky, the flowers on the tree, the grass, as well as the light hitting her hair.

Adding in a flash off camera

Now that I have my exposure in the background set how I want it, it was time for me to add in a flash to brighten the subject and remove shadows, especially in the eyes. Depending on if I have time to do so, I fire my lights on manual mode using a gray card to ensure I have correct exposure while using my lights to make post processing easier and therefore more efficient. Using a gray card I start to adjust my lights until the histogram spikes near the center as shown below. If the histogram is showing a spike near the left hand side, that means the light power needs to be raised to bring it closer to the middle. If the spike is near the right hand side, that means the light must be brought down closer to the middle. 

This photo of the gray card was just a tiny bit underexposed, but I can always fix that small amount in post.

By using the gray card method, you are insuring that the light you are firing onto your subject is going to be correct every time you do it. It may take a little bit of extra time but it is well worth the extra effort!

If you are looking for a photographer in the Cedar Rapids area, Contact Kyle Cleveland Photo, Kyle specializes in flash photography and currently focuses on Senior Photography, Family Photography, Couples, Engagements, and Weddings. 


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