Using Flash To Fake A Sunset

Using Flash To Fake A Sunset

Every morning I wake up and walk out to my living room. I sit down on the couch and bask in the sunlight coming through my sliding glass doors. I love how the light cutting through the vertical blinds creates a pattern of lines going across my living room. I have often thought how cool it would be to shoot a photo with the light like that, but at sunset when the light is real golden. The only problem? I can't shoot a sunset like that because my door opens on the eastern side of the house...

So I decided I wanted to fake the funk and use flashes to emulate a sunset coming through the blinds. I also didn't just want to shoot an image of my fireplace, so I had a lovely model (my girlfriend Jasmine) sit in for the shot. I started by placing an SB900 with two gels on it, one yellow, and one orange. I covered the left half of the flash with yellow and the right with orange. This gave a nice mix of light in my opinion as opposed to just shooting through orange or yellow. I angled the flash in roughly the direction the sun shines from every morning, and I angled the blinds in a way I though cast some interesting shadows. I had Jasmine sit in the chair and I fired off a frame. The light was alright but I had two problems, the first being that the door behind her was open and looked dark in the room. Now unless that room was windowless, it made no sense for it to be a black hole. I decided, "I'll just close the door," but alas that looked sort of bland to me. So I cracked the door back open and set up an SB600 to bounce off one of the white walls in there, and I gelled it with a light yellow gel. My other problem was that the shadows on Jasmine were just too dark, so I set up another SB600 behind my camera and gelled it with a light yellow gel as well. I didn't need a lot of light, just a little bit, but I wanted to keep it golden also, and not just yellow. So I took out a gold reflector and I bounced the SB600 off of it.

All in all the final shot took me about 20 minutes to achieve. I love how the shot turned out, and now I have another trick up my sleeve for some creative lighting next time I am on a shoot and circling for ideas. I love to experiment with lighting ideas, what is originally just a fun time to goof off and try to create something new and different seems to always pay off when I can pull these tricks out of my sleeve for a client. Check out the lighting diagram as well as the final image below!

lighting-diagram sunset-final


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I think the girlfriend is more impresive than the picture.

... But seriously, cool photo. Very nice effect and even more outstanding is the fact that this guy didn't just go "Oh well, too bad my room doesn't face the right way", he actually saw something in his mind's eye and recreated it.

Anthony Tripoli's picture

 I think she's pretty impressive myself. ;)

Continues light source helps also very good (2000 watts) It gives a nice hard shadow, did this myself also but then with horizontal blinds :D

Anthony Tripoli's picture

 But I don't own any good continuous lights. :)

Beautiful model and great light but she looks disproportionately large to me.  It looks like if she stood up she would be to tall to fit through the door behind her.  

Anthony Tripoli's picture

The reason for that is that the door is actually offset into the wall about 2 feet. I should have pulled the camera back a little bit more so it was a little more obvious it was in the background. I also screwed up making the diagram haha. I also shot this with a 35mm which is a little wide, but I didn't have much room to pull back, so she will definitely appear to be a little bit larger in comparison to the background.

Thanks for the input!

Twisty's picture

could you do this by adding a yellow tint to the lighting in post?

Anthony Tripoli's picture

 Possibly, but it looks much more realistic if you just do it in camera.

very Kardashian

Anthony Tripoli's picture

 Haha she gets that a lot.

loving the shot! I'm defiantly going to give this a try this weekend

Since you put yellow gels on all but one of your lights (Which you mixed with 1/2 orange) you could have done the same thing by shifting the white balance on your camera and just using 1/2 a yellow gel on that one flash you mixed unless ofc you were mixing ambient light which it doesn't sound like as you had to lighting the shadows with more flashs.

Nice image and write up though :)

Anthony Tripoli's picture

 I could have, but consider that the one flash that was used to fill the shadows was bouncing off of a gold reflector, giving a different quality of light than just straight gelling the flash.

Furthermore it's always more fun to get the shot right in camera first.

Nice work, Anthony. 

really love the idea of the way the lights are arranged