It’s a time honored approach to establish two zones of governance in a photo, one controlled by fast flash duration, and therefore sharp, and the other governed by a constant light source, resulting in motion. The hard part is experimenting with how one falls off and the other picks up, and to take care to make sure, for instance, the flash is localized and doesn’t snuff the motion possibilities you are trying to create with the steady source.
I’d say hitting that mutual sweet spot is like the eye of the needle, but that’s too much drama. It’s never completely perfect, and lots of frames go south in search of one where the motion is just subtle enough and the sharpness is complete. It’s just experimentation and the willingness to move lights around until you get something that works. In the above instance, there are actually two steady sources, one warm and the other gelled blue. They are tucked into the corner, camera left, and look at the veil, blown by a studio fan, as Natalie strikes a typically beautiful pose and faces into Speedlights.
The flash source is the relatively new Lastolite II 40″ Octa. You can put two Speedlights into it, and fit it with a grid to control spill, which is essential for the shot above. And the one below. This source is just plain beautiful on a consistent basis. It is now part of our permanent travel kit. Always goes.
This is shot at f11 at 1/15th of a second. The up top image is the same shutter at f8, hence a bit more motion in the veil, and the little tinge of blue. At f11, the blue light kind of got squashed, as I recall. Everything has some sort of governor on it–the flash source has an egg crate, and the hot lights have barn doors. Spill and sloppiness is the enemy. Keep the lights focused, don’t spill light on the floor, and concentrate on sharpness and the expressiveness of your subject. The veil will do its thing in the breeze, and you just have to hope to catch it in an eloquent, flowing way. Shoot a lot, many won’t work.
Again, many thanks to the fantastic crew–Lynn DelMastro running production, and Cali doing video, and assisting along with Jon Cospito. And of course to “the glam squad” of Samantha Brown Style and Deborah Englesman. And of course to the wonderfully talented Natalie Wilmshurst, of Glasgow, a dancer come to NY.