Fun with Colours: flashes, gels, mirrors.

The things some people do in their bedrooms in private! In preparation for tomorrow’s hands-on flash course I outfitted some flashes with coloured gels tonight. 

I used Honlphoto gels, seen bottom right here in a double wrap:


I had three flashes mounted on a stand that uses one radio trigger (like a Pocketwizard) to fire all three flashes (thus saving two radio triggers). I have discussed this three-way mount here before. I also used grids (also Honlphoto) to get three separate light circles.

As said, where all three flashes mix, you get white. After you get the ratios right, that is: the gels take light (also discussed here in a recent post) and you may need to turn one or two of them up to compensate.

Once you are done, you get white. You see it here in the centre:


And here:


TIP: To get the ratio right, you look at the RGB histogram. The peaks for red, blue and green need to be at the same distance from the edges.

Looking at the flashes you see the three colours I chose:


Red, Green and Blue. Surprise, surprise!

You see, when these colours mix, that once you get the ratios right, you get white overall. But when only two of them mix you get “in between” colours, which include cyan, yellow, and magenta:


So now you know why you see RGB and CYMK (where “K” means “Black”) as two alternate ways to mix several basic colours!

I also had unrelated flash fun, of course. f/32:


And my spinning top:


On a concave mirror, that is:


The moral of this post?

You should have fun with your photography, and explore, and try out different things. How many of you have gels, and how many of you have used these to mix light in different ways? That’s how you learn about light. So for those of you not coming to tomorrow’s course: go have fun, And sign up for the one after the next one: tomorrow and next week are full up, but 6 November still has a few spots open.

Any way you do it: learn about light, and have fun.

PS for Honl modifiers, which I strongly recommend, go to this link and use discount code “Willems” at checkout to get an additional 10% off.

Document your life while you can.

The death, in my arms, of my three year old Bengal cat Shiva last week reminds me again how ephemeral life is. Here he is, poor Shiva, taking his final journey to the vet an hour or two after his death for a postmortem:


I am happy that I have many more pictures of Shiva. Thousands. The maybe five or six pictures of dead Shiva are nothing compared to the many hundreds of live Shiva.

After the vet visit, I decided to do something more fun and take some photos of my car:


(85mm, 200 ISO, 1/200 sec, f/11 – that’s the “Sunny Sixteen” rule)

And here’s my foreverspin spinning top in action (bounced flash at half power; meaning an effective virtual shutter speed of roughly 1/2000 sec):



The point: document your life, as I do, even though photography is my job as well.

I can picture anything. Do you want the same skills? Easy. Learn, And it’s really simple today. Start here: get the free downloads from the bottom of this page: – those are free chapters from some of my e-books that are useful by themselves. Learn those.

Then learn more of the technical and artistic skills you need. Get the rest of the e-books. Or come to my frequent workshops: see the listing here. Or get individual, bespoke training, which many of my clients find is the best way to quickly learn. However you do it: learn, while you can, and have a documented life. It can be over all too soon, but more importantly: every day is one to share, to treasure, to come back to. Photography is how.


Near London? Come see me 6 Oct 2016

Do you live west of Toronto? Anywhere near London, Ontario?

Then see – you can hear me talk about flash tomorrow night (or tonight, depending on when you read this), Thursday Oct 6, 2016. Come hear some advanced tips and tricks and come meet me. 7:30pm; $10 charge for non-members of the club.

Also keep in mind, 23 October, another small (5 people max, some spaces left) hands-on Flash workshop. See the web site.

Now back to my presentation.No rest for the wicked. 

Workshop Hands-on: Repeated By Demand

Since many have asked for the Flash Hands-On workshop, I am repeating it the week after the 16th, i.e. on the 23rd of October. Sign up now, because again, it is strictly limited to 5 students.

HANDS-ON SESSION: Master On- and Off-Camera Flash, Manual & TTL

Sunday, Oct 23, 2016, 12:00 PM

Michael Willems Studio
48, Wilkes Street Brantford, ON

1 Emerging Photographers Attending

UNLEASH YOUR CREATIVITY, LIKE THE DUTCH MASTERS, AND BECOME A FLASH PRO!I have been asked for more dates. so here. This repeat of the earlier unique small and intensive hands-on workshop, held once again in my fully equipped studio, will be both practice, for those who know a thing or two about flash, and a revelation, for those who do not.I too…

Check out this Meetup →

Oh vanitas vanitatum, omnia vanitas.

An ancient Latin saying. Obviously ancient if it’s Latin.

And a self portrait, obviously not ancient, unless perhaps my age puts me into that category.

Michael Willems

Oh vanity of vanities, all is vanity.  Manual focus on an object that is sitting where I will be. Then use the timer shutter release. Camera on a tripod. or on a table.

So is this a “vanity” photo?

No, it is more of a storytelling photo. Photos can be more interesting if they imply that there is clearly a story behind the photo, and it is not a straightforward one like “happy clown”.

If you are on my course: much more coming. If not: get the books, come back here, and keep reading. Enjoy!