Nikon Learn & Explore

Speedlight Tutorial: Artificial Sunlight Technique

Wireless off-camera lighting with Speedlights may seem like a daunting proposition at first glance, but its easier than you might think. With Nikon’s Creative Lighting System, you can easily set up a Speedlight or two (or more) and control their output right from your Nikon D-SLR camera. A pair of Speedlights and a minimal amount of effort can add a dramatic look to your images.

David Tejada is a location shooter. Mainly a corporate photography specialist, his subjects are found on job sites, industrial factory floors, executive offices and more. Using a minimum amount of gear, he’s able to create photographs that look as if the lighting were more complex than it actually was.

Bring in the Sun

David Tejada photo of swimmer near pool warmly lit

© David Tejada

Just because the natural light isn’t cooperating doesn’t mean you can't make images with dramatic lighting. David will explain how the addition of just two Speedlights, using CTO (Color Temperature Orange) gels to warm the light output, along with a cuculoris (also known as a cookie) or gobo to add a bit of a dappled effect, looks just like warm afternoon sunlight, as it passes through tree branches, and into your image. The sharpness of the shadows from the cookie is dependent on how far away the light source is from the cookie. The closer the light source to the cookie, the softer the shadows, the further the distance, the sharper the dappled shadow pattern will appear.

diagram of lighting for David Tejada pool shot

© David Tejada

The two SB-900 Speedlights are positioned on a stand, one atop the other, and placed outside the window. Both are set to Channel 1, Group A. CTO (Color Temperature Orange) gels are added to each flash, which warm up the ambient light's bluish hues. The light from the pair of SB-900 Speedlights are passing through the cookie, causing dappled light to reach the subject. The built-in pop-up flash on the D7000 D-SLR acts as Master, to set off the remote flashes. The white balance was custom set to 7000° Kelvin. A Nikon D7000 D-SLR with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens was used to shoot the final images. Exposure was 1/125 second at f/4, ISO 200. Inset shows the placement of the Speedlights in relation to the cookie.

© David Tejada

Adding artificial sunlight to a scene.

Watch the video, to learn how two Speedlights can provide your images with sunlight even when the sun isn’t shining.