Alpaca with a Twist Shoot – An off camera flash example

Posted on December 28, 2011


I wanted to post a few example images from a shoot with Alpaca with a Twist.  The images are a few of their designs that they sell as patterns. Alpaca with a Twist raises Aplacas and creates their own alpaca yarns and alpaca blends to sell. Their products and patterns are available through your local yarn shop. You can find out more about them at My thanks for them letting me do this.

One of the reasons for including these images is to give you an idea of what a flash off the camera can do for you.  If you have been keeping up with the Off Camera Flash series of blogs, these will give you some examples of what you can do. With all these images, the flash isn’t diffused or tonality changed. You can tell a diffuser wasn’t used by looking at the shadows – they are hard shadows. Notice the well defined line of the shadow. If a diffuser was used, that line would be barely noticeable. You may be asking “why didn’t you use a diffuser?” Part of this is wanting to show the texture of the knits. Part of this is that I didn’t have an assistant and it was somewhat windy out (look at the fly away with the model’s hair) – I didn’t want to damage the lights, umbrellas, or other type light modifier. Some people may say that is why you have your equipment and it will get damaged with use. I personally think you should take care of your equipment as there are many times that you will need to push the limits. This wasn’t one of them. The second reason was that it was mostly cloudy during the whole shoot, and I wanted to give some definition to the model and the patterns in the yarn.

The first image is one where the light is coming from about 45 degrees behind the left of the model. The flash is used to match the light and fill in the light on the model’s right side so that the rim lighting doesn’t blow out the model from the two extremes. If your guess was that the flash was about 90 degrees to the right of the model and slightly above the model, you are correct. I have included a second image here that shows this same technique, but note that we have had to match the light to a lower light level so we can through  the background out of focus with a large aperture. There are also several white flags in place to bring the light down, too, and it also softens the light around the model in the second image.

Rachel with sun on one side and flash matched on other.Rachel with matched fill light.

The third image was taken under a dappled light area (trees). In order to fill the dappled light, and bring focus to the model, an off camera flash was used. Again, no diffusion was used or filters used on the flash. Key to doing this is getting the light from the flash as your main light, and using the sun light as your fill light. You can tell when this is done when the subject pops like the model in this image and maintains a high degree of separation because of the difference in lighting from the subject and background.

Rachel with sunlight as fill to get rid of dappled look.

The next image is a close up image of some ornamentation on a knitted scarf. To capture this, an 80-20 bounce was used. A cheap 80-20 reflector can be made by attaching a piece of velcro to the long edge (8 inch side) of a 5×8 index card, and sticking it to the back edge of the flash.  The goal of an 80-20 is that some of the light is bounced forward yet most of the light continues and bounces from the ceiling. If you look at the shadow lines, you can see they are softer but still there. The shadow lines are softer because of the larger light source (the bounced light from the ceiling). The small amount of light bounced forward keeps from having racoon eyes and extreme shadows under the eyes that are frequently common with bounced light (you can’t see that from this image).

Rachel with 80-20 bounced light.

From these examples, you should see that an off camera flash is essential to giving shape and form to your subject that you can’t do with on camera flash.

Again, if there are any questions on this post, feel free to drop me a message.