If there was one valuable thing about photography that I learned in college, it was the science behind lighting. Understanding the inverse square law and how multiple lights can affect an image proved to be invaluable to me.
While I was at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I had an editor give me the idea of shooting a food set with multi-point lighting. The basic multi-point setup includes three lights. One each to the left and right and one from behind. The problem is I only have one light – my Canon 550EX Speedlight.
While I was realizing how impossible this was with my gear, my editor opened my eyes. Why not set the camera on a tripod and shoot a long exposure. During that time, I can walk around with my flash off of the camera and fire it manually multiple times from multiple angles.
Voila. Max’s quick and easy multi-point lighting was born.
The one problem with it is that it is very hard to replicate an image. You can never get the light exactly where it was before. This is one of those situations where you shoot a lot with a general idea and hope for the best.
The first time I attempted and accomplished this technique was exactly one year ago on location at a Brazilian restaurant in the Central West End of St. Louis called Coco Louco Brasil.
For that shot, the camera was set for a four second exposure at f/16 and ISO 100. If I remember accurately, I fired the flash three to four times.
Coincidentally, I used the same technique today.
I was given the last minute assignment to shoot a group of local high school wrestlers that have advanced to the state championships. I wanted to isolate them in the image. I turned off all of the lights in the room and fired the flash twice – once from each side.
This time, the camera was set to a two second exposure at f/8 and ISO 400. I also was using the Gary Fong PowerSnoot on my flash.
With one light and forward thinking, any image is possible.