I have an image in mind in which I shoot a car at a nice location during the blue hour with the headlights switched on. That would be the context in the image. However, there needs to be more. The main subject will be the people inside the car. In order to direct the viewers attention to them, I need light. Because of the outside nature of the location, there will be non AC-power available and have these to be powered by batteries.
Before using bigger battery powered flash units like Elinchrom Quadra’s or something alike, I wanted to test the capabilities of the small Nikon flash units first. So together with a friend I went to a country road nearby the town I live to give it a go.
Well in short: the mission failed.
The reason for that was that I was not able to trigger the flash unit inside the car with the regular technology that is provided with my flashes. Nikon Flashes need to ‘see’ each other which didn’t work with the unit in the car. It didn’t work with the SU-800 commander which communicates with infrared signals. And neither did I succeed with a SB-900 flash with the beam zoomed into the telephoto range. So the lesson I learned from that is that you really need radio communication for these type of shots. The newer Nikon SB-5000 will support this radio communication. But I don’t have an SB-5000 and I’m not planning to buy one soon. Maybe a separate communication system like Pocket Wizzards will suit the needs.
So there we were. In the field with a failed mission. Time to abort the mission? Maybe. Maybe not because the light started to get pretty interesting. So we decided to stay for a while and play around with the flashes a little. This is the result of just playing around.
Maybe not the most elegant models but we sure had a lot of fun doing this.
What did I do to create this image? I underexposed the ambient light in order to get a darker and moodier image. I used a 3-stops gradient ND-filter in front of the lens to reduce the brightness of the sky and match it to the foreground. The flashes were powered so that they would illuminate us, as main subjects, to a correct exposure.
Moral of this story: don’t give up when a mission fails. Just set your mind on different opportunities.