Conquering Shadows and Long Exposures December 30, 2016 – Posted in: Photography – Tags: , , , , , , , ,

This passage was excerpted from Minus 2/3 The Invisible Flash by Gerd Ludwig, available in eBook format and paperback now!

Minus 2/3 is the latest release from photographer and author Gerd Ludwig. Ludwig received the prestigious Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism in 2015 and has been photographing for National Geographic since the early 1990s. In Minus 2/3, he takes us behind the scenes of his iconic photos to share his flash techniques.

The icons below appear in Minus 2/3 to offer an explanation of which flash techniques were used to create the images. This is only a sampling of the icons featured in the book.



STAROCHERKASSK, RUSSIAstarocherkassk-russia

After some lighthearted folk dancing, picnickers refuel with a robust meal—and lots of vodka.

This scene played out in the shadow of a tree. Without a flash, the group would have appeared almost as silhouettes and the face of girl in the foreground would have disappeared into the shadow of her hat. Even when I’m shooting in daylight, I often add a slight warming gel to the flash.

flash-off-camera ettl-_1-1_3 gel-w1 flash-softbox








los-angeles-california-usaLOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA

In southern California, cars are often left parked outdoors for an extended period—lovingly covered,
especially during holidays when their owners treat them like treasured pets.

During an exposure of two minutes, I popped strobes onto the palm fronds, the Porsche cover, and the grass in the foreground.



flash-off-camera gel-w2 flash-zoomed flash-on-manual camera-manual camera-tripod

PRIPYAT, UKRAINEpripyat-ukraine

Originally built for the employees of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, today Pripyat is a chilling ghost town where tourism leaves unsettling traces. Abandoned dolls, left in surreal arrangements, are signs of the visitors’ intervention.

Before initiating the long exposure, I placed one radio-controlled strobe in the back room and directed it toward the central wall to bounce and scatter additional light throughout the area. A second strobe was fired manually during the exposure and bounced from the ceiling above me to open up the shadows.

flash-off-camera flash-on-manual flash-tilted camera-manual camera-tripod


This was excerpted from Minus 2/3 The Invisible Flash: Crafting Light for Photographers in the Field.
The eBook and paperback are available now.