Feathering: It’s like off-camera lighting… but faster
I've mentioned before (here) about using light feathering to create an even coverage of light on subjects that aren't equidistant to the light source. The example I gave before used off-camera lighting, but for reasons of working speed I nearly always use on-camera flash nowadays.
One of the major problems with using on-camera flash for editorial work is that a lot of your pictures will have some people close to the camera and others further away. You can often do okay with just flashing the people at the front, but sometimes that's not good enough. This is when light feathering can help.
Consider these two pictures:
In the first picture, the boy at the front is about three feet from the camera. The woman at the back is about eight feet away. But everyone was lit equally by simply turning the flash to the right. By angling the flash like that, the girl and the woman got a good blast of light from the centre of the beam while the boy in the white top got some softer light and the boy at the front got the very edge of the beam which is softest of all. The end result is that they all got roughly the same amount of light. To prove the point, here's another unedited frame when the flash didn't fire:
For the picture of the two men with the plane, the flash was angled to the right and also upwards. The man at the back got the main blast of light while the man at the front got the soft edge of the light. The reason for angling the flash upwards was to avoid getting too much light on the white paintwork of the plane, which would have over-exposed it. Again, here's a frame without the flash:
It can take a few attempts to get the hang of light feathering in this way but then it's a technique that will help you countless times. News pictures require interesting compositions, and interesting compositions nearly always require layering of subjects. With feathering you can layer your subjects and still light them evenly so it's an essential technique to master.