On a wet Friday night a small group of photographers worked with the energetic north-east model Zara Watson in the Salford Quays area of Manchester. Our objective was to put into practice some techniques for balancing ambient light with off-camera flash. This was certainly a challenge at times because of the rapidly changing natural light conditions allied to the omnipresent Manchester drizzle. Using anything other than the manual settings for shutter and aperture was risky and I saw that I quickly learned how to judge the lighting properties of a scene and adjust the camera to capture the image how I wanted to see it. White balance isn’t straightforward with the many different light sources around, but a quick adjustment in Photoshop or Lightroom can easily remedy this.
We started at 7pm close to Media City when it was dry but heavily overcast and tried several different settings, under the guidance of Andrew Appleton, to balance the prevailing light and flash. One interesting technique that I learned was to set the shutter speed too high (1/500s) for the flashgun – you would normally see a dark strip at the bottom of the frame by doing this – but the ambient light negated this effect and the flash was predominantly lighting just the models face in a pleasing and natural way.
As the light faded we abandoned the flash lights and moved around to the Lowry centre looking for existing man-made lighting and used what we could find along with some fairly high (1600-3200) ISO settings. Some areas were really quite dark challenging but other areas had an abundance of light that we had to find ways to counteract.
We did attract some interested passers-by and the all too familiar security guards during our stay but it did teach me what was possible with one camera, one lens and little or no lighting equipment.
Some images from the shoot are shown below.

Zara Watson Panel