Flash!

I taught a special flash workshop over the past two days, at Sheridan College. Seven students, great crowd.

Here, a few images:

Next, a one flash portrait. Yes, you can do some great stuff using just one flash. The flash was fitted with a Honl Photo grid – without that, it could not have worked. Fired by pocketwizards. This student looks like Queen Nefertiti, we decided:

Funny, aunt and niece, who, contrary to what you might think looking at this image, both have a great sense of humour:

And finally, me, by one of the students. A standard four light portrait:

About this portrait:

  • It uses a key light, a fill light two stops darker, a hair light, and a background light. Four flashes.
  • Key and fill were strobes; the others were speedlights.
  • They were all fired by pocketwizards.
  • The background was light grey. That makes it difficult, to add colour to it, so we used a considerable distance between me and the background. (The background needs to be dark before you can add colour to it).

And finally the easiest shot. Now I warn you, the sample below was shot from the back of my camera with my iPhone, and then further mangled by Facebook, so do not look at the quality. Look at the idea instead.

So simple. One flash, located behind the subject, aimed at the backround. And a part Harvey Weinstein lookalike in the foreground.

Event tip

Last night I shot an event with many celebrities. Not being totally in touch with Canadian¬† popular culture, I did not recognize a single one, while everyone else was fawning over them. F1 race car drivers, famous boxers, politicians, NBA stars: the fact I do not know them is probably, I think, an advantage, because I am not intimidated at all. ūüôā

An event photography tip. Problem: I had to shoot the red carpet photos by bouncing against a wood wall. Result: the images would look horribly red. Solution: set white balance to the appropriate colour temperature – by trial and error, yesterday that was 4600 K.

 

El Carro

Car pictures. Always fun. Including snaps:

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That’s my Camaro ZL1, at 400 ISO, 1/400 sec, f/16.

Does anything occur to you when you see those numbers?

Yes, it’s the Sunny Sixteen¬†rule.

Anyway, the car has a lot of detail, like the badges:

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So here is my all-new Camaro. Flash TTL, flash bounced behind me,

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That is right, a little toy. And it’s my car’s exact colours, too. And that toy has surprising¬†detail. The same badges, for a start.

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Note: Over the next while, long term that is, I plan to use this toy as a prop in pictures all over the place, so stand by!

Always carry a camera dept: drinks in the above restaurant, and they looked pretty enough to take a snap:

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(35mm lens, manual mode, 1/320 sec, 1000 ISO, f/2.2.)

A reminder

Today, a reminder of one if my magic “Flash Recipes”. Namely, the “Reception Recipe”. Otherwise known as the “Willems 400-40-4 setting”.

It goes like this. Camera on manual. Flash bounced, and aimed 45 degrees up, behind you.

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400 ISO, 1/40 Second, F/4. (the numbers only fit one way: try!)

In most indoors environments that gives you great balance of background and foreground, as in the image above. If the ceiling is high or dark, increase the ISO as needed. Ideally, use a 35mm lens (24mm if you are using a crop sensor camera).

And that’s all. Great party pictures from now on!

 

 

The simplest…

Sometimes, when you are immersed in a profession, you forget that not everyone is even familiar with the language used in that profession, let alone with some of its principles and practices. As an engineer who teaches, I try never to fall victim to that thinking. But sometimes even I do. So in the next series of blog posts, I will briefly define some of the basics. Just in case.

Starting, today, with flash modes.

Your small, camera mounted, flash has a “mode” button. That button gives you access to some of the following modes:

  • TTL (also, “E-TTL”, or “TTL-BL”, etc). This means “automatic flash power”. The camera and the flash together sort out how much power is needed for every¬†photo. They do that with a mechanism that I explain in my courses, books, and workshops. That mechanism is called “TTL”. You do not have to worry about your subject’s brightness, at least in theory: the camera and flash sort it out.
  • MANUAL (Also called “M” or “MAN). ¬†In that mode, you set the flash power. You can, for instance, set it to 1/1, or 100% power: the brightest¬†power level. Or 1/2 (half power), 1/4 (one quarter of its top power), 1/8, and so on. On some cameras, you can go as low as 1/128 power, a very low flash level. So in this mode, if your flash is too bright, you would turn it down to a lower level (or move back from what you are lighting); if it is too dim, you would turn it up (or move closer).
  • Repeating flash, or stroboscopic flash. In this mode, the flash will flash not once, but a defined number of times, with a defined interval. You need to define the number of flashes, the interval, and the power level. (E.g. “5 flashes, at a frequency of 10 flashes per second, at 1/16 power”). That allows you to make photos of, say, a runner against a dark background, where you see not one, but ten images of that runner as she moves through your photo.

There may even be modes additional to this. Depending on the flash you use, there may¬†also be a setting that tells the flash that it is a remote flash, and there may be¬†a setting that allows the flash to be used at fast shutter speeds, but at a reduced power level (“High Speed Flash”, or “FP Flash”). There could be other settings as well, like a “dumb slave setting” (Nikon calls this the “SU-4” setting).

All those additional settings are not modes, but they are what I called them: additional settings. I know, that may be¬†confusing to you (“what is a mode and what is an additional setting?”), but if so, don’t worry about it. It’s what the engineers decided to do. The reasons for not calling these settings “modes” are not important right now.

So there you have it. Some flash “basic basics”.

In my flash courses, I explain al this in detail, of course.

Want to learn more: buy the pro flash manual, and if you are in Toronto, sign up right now for the 25 March portrait and model lighting workshop.  See you there?