Sunset Flash Photography. Canggu, Bali.

Sunset Flash Photography
Sunset Flash
Canggu, Bali
May 28th , 2019
Sunset Flash

If you are only interested to see the pictures you will find them below.

If anyone were actually reading this photography blog they would be forgiven for being bored with the lack of activity, the lack of content and the constant stream of excuses for why I am not just getting off my arse and taking and posting more photographs.

Yesterday I had a brilliant conversation with Sandrine who specialises in supporting people to have more joy in their lives by being more creative. From that conversation, I decided that I was prioritising everything else over my photography, which is probably a mistake if I am hoping to be more joyful. So its thanks to Sandrine that you, if you even exist, get to see this post today and why you might get to see more posts in the future. 

So here we are, another set of photos that I have been meaning to take for an age. I have been in possession of these flashes for a couple of years but have never actually got round to using them properly. Actually, that isn’t true, I have tried but haven’t ever quite had the confidence to persist with them to get the result I was looking for.

The closest I have come is the photos that I took of Aaron in Brighton earlier this year, but I haven’t posted those yet so you won’t know about that. The issue is that when you are with a model there is some pressure to keep things moving, to keep their interest and if they are standing around looking at you dicking around with the camera and the flashes I imagine they would get bored pretty quickly. They probably don’t get bored quite as quickly as I imagine but I am imagining in my head so that obviously takes precedence over anything that might be going on in their heads.

I was first inspired to use flash outdoors more than ten years ago when a friend of mine had some commercial portraits taken near a fence, in a field in the rolling Sussex Downs. What I particularly enjoy about this style or technique is that the images really seem to pop. There is something about the way the flashes separate the subject from the background that really appeals to me, the crisp colours of the subject against the muted colours of the landscape. Even when those colours are the brightest greens or blues there is something about that separation that makes outdoor flash photography really exciting. The only issue is that in those 10 years I have never actually tried it.

So I have had the inclination for ten years, the flashes for a couple of years and I sourced the triggers for a second time at the backend of last year. So when I came to Bali in January it was with a clear vision. It would look amazing if I could capture a model in front of one of Bali’s epic sunsets and lush green rice fields using the flashes. And …. a short five months later, at the end of May, it actually happened. In the end, as is always the case it took about 20 minutes to find the kit, source new batteries and get to the rice field. The only real excuse that I had prior to that was that I didn’t have a model, except that, of course, isn’t a great excuse because I am in Canggu, and the beach is teeming with Instagrammers every morning.

Anyway, on this day Yuni took an interest in my camera and it occurred to me that we could take these shots, and she was keen and so we did. There were some issues. The flashes are supposed to be high speed but they struggle at anything over shutter speeds of a 200th of a second. The effect is that only the bottom third of the shot is lit, actually overexposed, and the rest is horribly underexposed. It may have taken me 15 minutes to remember the issue from last time. Once I had remembered it was obviously really easy to fix, I didn’t need to be shooting at more than 200ths of a second. There is a small technical challenge to shooting with off-camera flashes and you need to light stands of course, but with a little bit of practice, I am sure it is something I could get better at.  

The second issue was about timing, it wasn’t the best sunset, in fact, it was really disappointing, and it wasn’t lush green season in that particular rice field if anything it was more brown than green.

The third issue seems to be unique to me and that is that there is something in the Bali dirt and black sand, exclusively after dark, that loves to eat my feet and ankles. I have suffered this a few times and the itching last for several days. Using bug repellent actually works but because it has been a while since I have been standing in the dirt whilst it was dark I had forgotten. I need to do this stuff more regularly and not give myself so much opportunity to forget stuff.

However, as always I was really pleased that I got out and took the photos. I got the separation that I was hoping for and Yuni turns out to be a really good model, naturally finding different poses and looking amazing. I also really like the contrast of the red dress against the greens, blues, and greys of the background.

Altogether I am pretty happy with the images and as is always the case the message is I need to practice more with the kit and get off my arse to go out and take more photos, I always get joyful when I do that. So when Yuni is available and keen I will be looking out for better sunsets and greener rice fields and getting some more practice. I will let you know when that happens.

Please let me know if you have any feedback or tips for me and my outdoor flash photography, or if you know wtf it is in the dirt that’s eating my feet, in the comments.


Martin Henley

Martin Henley

Occasional Photographer

Struggling to be take better photographs more often and to find beautiful ways to present and share. 

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Sunset Flash Photography. Canggu, Bali.

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