Learning Flash: Two New Opportunities

A good knowledge of flash lighting is the key to artistic and other professional photography. Good news: I have two new opportunities for Flash learning!

Outdoors flash: essential for artistic photos

Both of these hands-on courses will be held in (or as the case may be, outside of) my Brantford studio.

Sunday May 1, 11AM: Studio Shooting

Sunday May 22, 11AM: Mastering Outdoors Flash

Both have limited availability: 4 and 7 students maximum, respectively. So sign up, and meet you in Brantford, 20 minutes west of Hamilton.

Raw facts

..and another reason to shoot RAW: several functions in Adobe Lightroom do not work, or do not work consistently, when you shoot JPG pictures.

These include

  • Generating  the XML files that optionally copy the information separately for each picture in the catalog;
  • Profile corrections in Lens Corrections.

There’s probably more. So if you needed more reasons to shoot RAW, there you go.

On another note: how many flashes do you need for creative flash photos?

One. Like here. A speedlight with a Honlphoto honeycomb grid attached to it.


Or two:


And there you go!

Don’t Fear High ISO’s

Last night I shot a kickboxing tournament in Vaughan, Ontario. So the food was all Italian, and I must say, rather good. As was the wine. I used a flash of course; bounced behind me, as usual. A few samples:




But I chose to set my camera to 3200 ISO. For three reasons:

  1. The first thought when doing flash is about the non-flash, ambient part of your photo. That means 1/250 sec, 3200 ISO, f/2.8 on a 70-200mm lens.
  2. The flash was bouncing against a very high ballroom ceiling. That works fine but needs a high ISO.
  3. I needed a fairly fast shutter speed to freeze motion a little.

That’s why. You see the logic? And as you look at those shots, I hope you realize that high ISOs are nothing to be afraid of.

A well exposed photo at high ISO is always better than an underexposed shot at low ISO, remember that! 

POSTSCRIPT: I shot these from my seat at the dinner table. Not wanting to get in the way of the hired pros. And wanting to enjoy my dinner.

Tip: I am available for private training, as most of you know, whether local or worldwide using Google Hangouts. And if you want to start by doing it yourself, get my e-books from http://learning.photography.



…I ran a Flash workshop today. All seven participants had a good time, and more, they all learned how to make a professional headshot like this:


That’s a standard headshot. Join me in my studio any time to learn how to do this, and much more!

And after you learn a standard portrait, you do more. And that includes things like this:


A portrait does not always have to include the subject’s entire head.

Zoom in (click on the picture) and see how much more personal that looks. See?

And the desaturated sharp look? A modern look that goes well for men. My “checklists” book (see http://learning.photography) contains the details of this Lightroom preset.


The light, the whole light, and nothing but the light.

Often, the key to creative photography is to add light where you want it. And nowhere else. And ma ny people forget that added qualifier.

Take this, student Alonzo lit with a single flash through an umbrella. And umbrella spreads light widely, which is in fact one of its benefits:


Now let’s use a single flash, unmodified, aimed at him from the right:


But now let’s put a grid on that flash:


It is the difference between the second and third photo in particular that I would like you to look at.

In the second photo, ambient light is still at zero (use the studio setting, see my books). But the flash itself creates light everywhere. In photo three, that is restricted: the flash only sends light where I want it to. Not everywhere else.

I use the Honl Photo modifiers. If you like them, follow this link and use code word “Willems” upon checkout to get an additional 10% off. I used a 1/4″ grid for that last photo. My favourite flash modifier, that grid!