I was recently on a portrait shoot and was talking with my assistant about how convenient a modeling light is for portraits and landscape flash. If I want to make sure my flash is aimed perfectly at my model’s face, using a modeling light will show me where my flash will hit. The same can be said for using flash in landscape photography. If I add a snoot to my flash to narrow the beam to illuminate the one orange aspen leaf in a sea of yellow aspen leaves, a modeling light will give me a preview of where my flash will illuminate the scene. But here is the problem. To trigger the flash test button (or modeling light) on a speedlight, you need to hit the button on the flash. Not convenient when you are looking through your camera ten feet away and don’t have an assistant with you. But you can trigger the speedlight modeling light right at the camera.
Try this with pop-up flashes in commander mode or using a hotshot mounted wireless transmitter. Simply hit the depth of field preview button and presto! Your flash will fire the modeling flash for a few seconds, and you can preview where your flash is aimed. As simple as that….
The image above was shot a few days ago on a Dave Black light painting workshop. Dave is the master of light painting, and has taken this craft way beyond illuminating a building with a flashlight. Check out his images and workshop schedule here.