Flash Photography

Quick Camera Tweaks: Camera’s Built-in Flash Tip

Smart Use of Camera’s Built-in Flash

Generally speaking, I wouldn’t say I like using the camera’s built-in flash. However, there are a few situations that the built-in flash is convenient.   

Use Camera’s Built-in Flash Cleverly.

The tiny size of the camera’s built-in flash makes it an undesirable source of light for pro photographers. That is why pro cameras do not have a pop-up flash.

However, the built-in flash can be handy as the second source of light.  

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The second light source works as a fill flash to brighten the subject against a bright background. Here is a sample of a backlit subject without using a flash. 

Backlit Subject without Flash

No fill light. The built in flash did not fire
No fill light. The built in flash did not fire

In the next shot, I activated the pop-up flash. The fill flash made the image more colourful and pleasing.

Backlit Subject with Fill Flash

A little fill light from the built in flash made a huge difference
A little fill light from the built in flash made a huge difference

How to Use a Camera’s Built-in Flash for Fill Light

It is straightforward. In any camera settings other than fully Auto, activate the built-in flash, and your camera will take care of the rest for you. Ensure that your subject is not further than two meters, as the flash is not powerful enough for distances over two meters.

The camera’s built-in flash is a TTL flash, which means that the camera adjusts the flash’s output. Therefore, You don’t need to work extra to set the exposure for the fill light.

Another Precaution 

Generally, whenever using a flash, try to avoid bright colour objects in the foreground. Therefore, if possible, remove bright colour elements from the foreground, or cover them with darker colour fabrics.

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That is all for this Monday Photo Clue. Follow us for more free photography tips. 

Another Fill Light Sample

Camera's built-in Flash
Adding a fill flash and changing the camera angle makes improvement

Do you want to learn more?

Omnilargess Photography workshops focus on many hidden features in digital cameras and editing software, such as Lightroom and Photoshop.

I dedicate a good portion of our digital camera workshops and Editing classes to discuss the Histogram. Digital Photography Bootcamp is one of our most popular photography courses, and I explain the Histogram in depth in this class. Check the link below for upcoming classes.

Omnilargess Training Program

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That is all for now. Stay tuned for my next photography Tips. We love to hear from you. Let us know if you have any questions; feel free to send us your questions, and we will be more than happy to answer them. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more Free Tutorials and Tips.

Ted and the Omnilargess Team

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Portrait Photography Tips – Flash Settings

Portrait Photography Tips for Flash/Speed-light Settings

Portrait Photography Tips -Flash Settings

Camera settings for flash photography are different from natural light or constant light photography, and the main differences are Exposure Value (EV) and Shutter Speed. With natural or constant light photography the shutter speed changes the exposure; but with speed-light (flash) the shutter speed does not affect the flash exposure. These five portrait photography tips will help you to set your flash and camera correctly for better results.

Portrait Photography Tips

Portrait posing
consider Slightly open mouth in portrait posing

Camera settings for flash/speed-light in portrait photography

1- ISO

In Speedlight (Flash) portrait photography, just like constant light portrait photography, use the lowest possible ISO. The low ISO (100-400) provides a clean and sharp image, as well as a better dynamic range. This also means you can retouch the photo later with more details.

2- Shutter Speed

Digital cameras have a SYNCH SPEED, which refers to a maximum shutter speed that camera and flash work synchronized. In other words, the flash fires when the shutter is completely open. Check with your camera model and make to find the maximum shutter speed for your camera. As a general guideline, with most new cameras you can use 1/120s or slower and be assured that you are within the synch range.

3- Aperture settings

In flash photography Aperture plays a very important role in exposure. The optimum f-stop is f5.6 to f8 for flash portraits provided that your speed-light is powerful enough or close enough to your model. If you use a TTL system, the flash will adjust the power automatically; if you use manual flash you need to adjust flash output. We cover how to make various speedlight adjustments in detail in our Flash Portrait Photography Workshop

4- White Balance

Your camera reads any and all the ambient light and adjusts the White Balance accordingly. In some situations Auto White Balance gets confused leading to unwanted colour casts, especially if you use Off-Camera flash or manual speedlights. Depending on the type of speedlight you use, I recommend using either the Flash White Balance (especially when the flash is the same manufacturer as your camera) or Direct Sun (Day Light) White Balance preset.

5- Light Modifiers

Because the light size of a speedlight is very small, this can create issues with harsh shadows and/or strong highlights. I recommend using some sort of light modifiers to tame and soften the light. Another simple solution is to bounce the flash off a white ceiling or wall. You can also use a piece of white cardboard as a reflector to improve the overall results from flash.

Stay tuned for more articles about posing. In our Portrait Photography Workshops you will learn these techniques in more detail, as well as gain practical experience shooting live models. Your instructor will guide you through each and every step. Please visit the workshop page on our website for more information.
Check Upcoming Classes for more details.

Ted and the Omnilargess Team

Registration is open

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Portrait photography tips
Portrait Photography using Flash/Speed-lights
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Simple Photography Tips

Five simple photography tips to improve your pictures

Simple Photography Tips

Digital cameras are tools and like other types of tools they help us do a job faster and better. In fact digital cameras do not take pictures, they just capture what photographers tell them to capture! Understanding the settings and capability of your camera is the most important thing for taking better photos.

In this short article I am going to share five simple photography tips with you which will help you take better pictures regardless of what type of camera you use.

Tip number 1

Avoid meter pitfalls with highlight and shadows:

What does this mean and why is it important? It refers to a limitation, which all cameras have, to see both highlight and shadows at the same time. In photography terms we call this Dynamic Range. Our eyes can see many more highlight and shadows than a camera. Not allowing for this limitation is probably one of the most common mistakes I have seen photographers make.

Here is an example of a scene with strong highlight and shadows:

Strong highlight can affect your exposure. Select different metering mode

Strong highlight can affect your exposure. Select different metering mode

One solution to solve this problem is to change the metering mode of the camera to spot metering and your exposures will be much more accurate.

In this photo I selected Spot Metering for correct exposure

In this photo I selected Spot Metering for correct exposure

In our Digital Camera Bootcamp we cover the metering system of digital cameras in full detail.

Tip number 2

Smart use of Built in Flash

I don’t use my camera’s built in flash as my main source of light, but I do use the built in flash as fill light. In Digital Camera flash photography class you’ll learn how to use your camera’s built in flash to improve the image quality.

Built in flash is very useful in scenes like this

Built in flash is very useful in scenes like this

By adding the flash I captured a more colourful image in this photo.

Using built in flash as fill light brings sharpness and colour

Using built in flash as fill light brings sharpness and colour

Tip number 3

Understand the Auto focus system

Choosing correct autofocus mode is very important and unfortunately many photographers do not pay enough attention to autofocus modes and its potential in their photography. This is why I added Selecting Correct Autofocus Mode as part of our new Digital Camera Bootcamp and I dedicated a 30 minute classroom session to this topic (with lots of practical hands-on in our field trips). I always use Single Auto focus point to force the camera to focus on my selected area. Set your camera to Single Auto Focus point and you will notice how much faster you can focus and compose your pictures.

Understanding Auto Focus modes in your camera is very important

Understanding Auto Focus modes in your camera is very important

Tip number 4

Creative Flash Photography

Flash photography can be very creative when you learn the techniques. There are several settings for your flash: Slow Shutter sync, HSS or High Speed Sync, and RPT or Repeated Mode are a few of them. In our Flash photography class you will learn the most popular and creative techniques with simple and easy to follow instructions.

In this picture I used First Curtain Slow Shutter sync and set the shutter speed to 1 second. After pressing the shutter, the flash fired and then I rotated the camera for this amazing effect.

Slow shutter synch and rotating camera creates outstanding background

Slow shutter synch and rotating camera creates outstanding background

Tip number 5

Avoid tight composition

Always compose your photos a little looser. This technique allows you to correct the image later in post processing. In our Lightroom workshop you learn all the important tools for better and faster post processing.

Here’s an example where I loosely composed an image.

Don't compose too tight to your subject. Always make some room for post processing

Don’t compose too tight to your subject. Always make some room for post processing

Now I can crop it to any aspect ratio I want without cutting out the main subject.

When you want to change the aspect ratio, Loose composition is a must

When you want to change the aspect ratio, Loose composition is a must

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

That is all for this week. Stay tuned for more Photo tips. Check our UPCOMING CLASSES for more workshops and events. If you have a question or a Photo tip you’d like to share, feel free to contact us.

Ted and the Omnilargess Team

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Off Camera Flash Exposure

Flash Photography Tips

Part 7: Off Camera Flash Exposure

In previous article I discussed fundamental techniques of Off Camera Flash Photography. In this article we are going to look at some principles of off- camera flash Exposure and ideas for how to use these techniques to set the off camera flash exposure correctly.

How do I set the flash exposure in off camera mode?

If you use a TTL Flash trigger, basically you don’t need to do anything different from TTL with on camera shooting. Just set your shutter speed, aperture and ISO and your camera and the flash will take care of the rest for you.
If you don’t have a TTL flash trigger or you don’t want to use the trigger, then you may want to pay close attention to this next part!
You will need to measure and adjust the exposure according to the output of the flash gun. There are three easy ways to correctly set the exposure:

1- Using a Flash meter

If you have a flash meter, simply read the exposure from the flash meter and set the exposure.

Off Camera Flash exposure

A flash meter can measure the exposure in off camera flash photography

2- Know the Guide Number for your flash

Guide Number is the measurement for the flash gun’s power. The guide number for an electronic flash measures its ability to illuminate the subject to be photographed at a specific ISO sensitivity and angle of view. A higher guide number indicates a more powerful flash. Here is the formula to calculate the exposure using the guide number:
GUIDE NUMBER divided by DISTANCE (in feet) equals the F STOP or Aperture Value.
You can also find the guide number of your flash in the Owners Manual or on line. It is usually marked at 100 ISO. If you increase the ISO by one stop, it doubles the guide number value.
For instance if I use a flash gun with Guide number 60 and set the flash four feet away from my subject, at ISO 100, the proper F stop is f15 or f16. The equation looks like this:
@ISO 100   60/4= f15 or f16
Now if I increase the ISO to 200 (one full stop increase), then the guide number increases to 120, and the calculation will be as follows:
@ISO 200   120/4= f30 or f32
So let’s say I don’t have f32 on my lens, and we know that the shutter speed won’t change the flash exposure, but I need to shoot at ISO 200 and f5.6 to balance the ambient light. What can I do to make the right exposure? The answer is the distance from the flash to subject! I simply move the flash to 20 feet away from the subject and here is the new calculation:
@200 ISO   GN 120/20 (feet) = f6 – f5.6
Using a Guide Number to calculate flash exposures is fun and rewarding because you get correct exposures every time. Here is one assignment to help you better understand this method: I want to use my flash gun (Guide number 60 at ISO 100) to shoot my subject at f8 and my flash can’t be any closer than 15 feet, what ISO should I use to achieve a correct exposure?

3- Adjusting Flash output

This is probably the easiest way to set the flash exposure, with instant feedback from digital camera technology! Almost all flash guns allow you to set the output power from full (1/1) to all the way down to 1/128th power. Thanks to digital camera’s image review, you can take advantage of the ability to review your shot and fine tune the exposure. Here is a little tip which often works for me if I don’t have my flash meter or I am too lazy to use the guide number calculation.

off camera flash exposure

You can select the flash out put in manual setting

I usually set my camera shutter speed in sync zone, set the aperture to f5.6 or f8, and then select ¼ power for my flash output. I typically set my flash 5 to 6 feet away from the subject and take my test shot. By reviewing the test shot I am able to find out if I need more or less power, to change the flash to subject distance, etc.

I cover more of flash photography in our upcoming Flash Photography Workshop. Check our upcoming classes for more info and to register for the flash photography class.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more photography techniques articles!

Ted and the Omnilargess Team


 

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Flash Photography Tips 6

Flash Photography Tips 6

Part 6: Off Camera Flash Photography

While on-camera flash photography is creative and fun, off-camera flash photography can take you to a whole new world of creativity. In previous articles I discussed fundamental techniques of Flash Photography, basically for on-camera techniques. In this article we are going to look at some principles of off- camera flash and ideas for how to use this technique.

What is Off Camera Flash Photography?

Off Camera Flash Photography means that you use the flash gun off the camera hot shoe. It means that not only can you adjust the amount of light to your liking, but also you choose the angle and direction of light. You can use more than one flash gun to control or create different highlights and shadows. In simplest terms, you can have a small portable studio wherever you go!

What are the advantages of off camera flash?

To begin with, you can control the angle and direction of light. Also since the flash is not mounted on your camera, you carry less weight which can be a big bonus especially in long hours of shooting. With Off camera flash you can use different light modifiers such as an umbrella, soft box, grid, etc. to modify the light. Another big advantage is that you have complete control over the ambient light by increasing the flash output and place the flash closer to your subject.

Flash Photography

Off Camera Flash Photography Techniques

 

Can I use TTL in Off camera flash techniques?

Although in this article I am going to cover manual shooting for off camera techniques, you can use TTL as well. Using the TTL system, you need to invest more money on triggers and flashes though.

How does an off camera flash fire?

For your camera and flash to “talk to” one another you will need to use a wireless trigger. The starting price for a pair of wireless triggers is just under $100.
Flash photography

 

One transmitter is attached to your camera’s hot shoe and the second one (receiver) is for the flash unit. When you take a picture the camera sends the signal to the transmitter and the transmitter sends the signal to the receiver to fire the flash remotely.

Flash Photography

Samples of Off Camera Flash Photography. Click on the image to see large size picture.

How about using the camera’s built in flash?

The built in flash in many new Prosumer DSLR cameras can work as a commander to fire another TTL flash or flashes remotely. This type of trigger works via an infrared beam which the built-in flash transmits to the remote (slave) flash unit to fire the correct amount of light.

Are there any disadvantages with an infrared trigger?

The biggest disadvantage is that the camera and remote flashes must be in line of sight to work properly. So if you place your off camera flash under a cover (such as behind a wall) the infrared beam cannot reach the flash and fire it. Another complaint about this method is that the camera’s built in flash has to fire, which means you may not get the exact effect you are after due to light from the built in flash.

I discuss TTL off camera flash in detail in our Flash Photography workshop. Check our Upcoming Classes to find the flash photography class and register.

That’s all for this short article. As always, please contact me if you have any questions.

Ted and the Omnilargess Team

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Flash Photography Tips 5

Slow Shutter Synch Flash Photography

Flash Photography Tips 5

Now that we’ve looked at the main differences between constant light (Ambient) and flash photography, it is time to experiment with some creative techniques in the wonderful world of flash photography. It may help if you basically consider flash photography as a double exposure picture, with one exposure for ambient light and the second exposure for the flash gun.

It may sound a little complicated and in our Flash Photography Classes we cover this topic in great detail. In the photo below I used ambient light to create a nice, attractive background and fired the flash to light the subject.

Flash Photography

By using Slow Shutter Sync, I manage to capture the light reflection and using the flash to capture the model.

What is Slow Shutter Synch?

Slow shutter synch means using a long exposure and the flash to freeze the movement. In the above picture I used a one second shutter speed and while I was rotating the camera, the flash fired and captured the subject. By rotating the camera it captured the lights in the background and created a nice pattern of movement, and when the flash fired it captured the girl’s image.

When does the flash fire during the long exposure?

It’s very important to know how the flash fires during a long exposure. If you use a TTL flash you have two different options for slow shutter synch: First (Front) curtain and Second (Rear) curtain. Most Manual flashes fire as soon as the shutter is fully opened (First/Front curtain).

What is First/Front Curtain?

This is the default setting for the flash synch, manual or TTL flash. The flash fires as soon as the shutter is fully opened and the shutter stays open to capture the ambient light and motion in the scene. It is an easy technique to create some nice effects such as Zoom Burst.

Flash Photography

Flash Photography is very creative provided you learn how to control the camera and the flash.

How about Second/Rear Curtain?

This technique is opposite of the First curtain, which means that the shutter opens but the flash does not fire until the shutter starts to close. This technique is very useful to show the motion of an object and the direction of movement. You can use Second/Rear Curtain with TTL or compatible flashes only. You need to set your camera or flash for this function (refer to the camera and flash owners manual for information about how to set Second/Rear curtain)

flash photography

In this photo the shutter opened, but flash didn’t fire till shutter started to closing and then flash fired to captured the subject.

Learning Flash Photography is a great way to take your photography skills to the next level. As I mentioned before flash photography means a double exposure, one with the ambient light and the next one for flash. The more you learn about these techniques the better you can capture the moment and not be limited by the ambient light. In the next article I am going to explain Off Camera Flash Photography. Go to our UPCOMING CLASSES page to find out more about Flash Photography Workshop.

Ted and the Omnilargess Team

Our next Flash Photography class is scheduled for July 6th and 13th. It is a 2 part workshop with lots of hands ons!


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Flash Photography Tips 4

Manual Flash Photography

Flash Photography Tip 4

We discussed TTL flash photography in previous articles and in this article I am going to show you the advantages of Manual flash photography.

There are two distinct ways in which flash exposure is controlled – Manual flash or TTL flash. Just Like Manual Exposure, Manual Flash requires more attention to camera and flash settings. When you master these techniques, you will enjoy flash photography even more and be able to create amazing pictures. With manual flash, you adjust your settings to achieve a correct flash exposure. You can use a light-meter, or even the histogram, to get correct flash exposure.

As I mentioned before, correct flash exposure requires four things to be controlled and balanced:

– Aperture

– ISO

– Distance (from the flash to subject)

– Power (the flash’s actual blitz of light, taking into consideration any diffusion)

You know about the roles of Aperture and ISO and for this article I am going to introduce the influences of Distance and Power.

Firstly, flash could simply be a constant amount of light that is emitted from the flashgun.  In the case of manual flash, there is NO control by the flashgun or camera, either with the intensity or duration of the pulse of light from the flash unit.

This is manual flash.  Photographers can control the output of their flashguns by adjusting the settings in fractions of the maximum possible output, ( 1/2 power, 1/4 power, 1/16 power, etc.). It should be obvious that the absolute value of ¼ power will vary from flashgun to flashgun, as each model and make of flashgun has a different maximum power.  The power of a flashgun is measured by GUIDE NUMBER; the higher the guide number the more output of power.

To recap, with manual flash we have four controls for the flash exposure:

– the actual output level from the flashgun, (the ratio of full or partial power),

– distance from our light source to the subject 

– aperture 

– ISO.

Any of these four variables can be used to control the amount of light falling on your subject.

Flash Photography

In Manual Flash photography, you need to adjust the power of flash out put to match the ambient light and distance to subject.

TTL vs. Manual flash photography

The only way to control TTL flash metering is with flash exposure compensation. While you could control manual flash exposure with any of the four variables mentioned above, with TTL flash you have one option and this is with your flash exposure compensation.

With manual flash, since the flash is a specific level, our subject’s reflectivity or our choice of composition (how we frame our subject) has absolutely no impact on our metering. This is a hugely important aspect of manual flash.  Once we have our lights set up at a specific distance, and determined our aperture and ISO…the subject’s reflectivity (how much lighter tones or darker tones there are) have NO effect on our flash exposure.

However, with TTL flash the subject’s reflectivity / tonality and our choice of composition WILL affect our flash exposure.   And hence, we often need to control our flash exposure with the flash exposure compensation.

The concepts explained in this section are so essential to our further understanding of flash photography that I strongly suggest re-reading this section until it makes sense.  Also check our Upcoming Classes page to find a workshop in Manual Exposure or Manual Flash Photography.  Gaining a solid understanding, both in theory and in practice, about flash photography will open up a whole new creative world to you. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about your flash and/or camera settings.

That is all for now. Stay tuned for more articles about creative uses of TTL and Manual Flash Photography, such as Slow Shutter synch and off-camera flash photography.

Ted and the Omnilargess Team

Our TTL Flash Photography workshop is scheduled for July 6th 2016. This is a 2 part workshop with lots of practical settings.


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Flash photography Tips 3

Flash Photography Tips

Part 3: TTL Flash Photography special features

In previous articles I discussed the differences between constant light vs. flash photography and also some tips about TTL Flash Photography. In this article I am going to cover some important features of TTL flashes. Often photographers have asked me why TTL flashes are so expensive compared to non TTL flashes. The reason often comes down to convenience; below is a list of some of these conveniences.

1- Camera controls the output of the flash, so you have peace of mind that you always get correct exposure.

2- When you mount your TTL flash, your camera automatically sets the correct White Balance for Flash Photography, so you don’t need to worry about colour shift. Many of the new Nikon flashes (SB900, SB910, SB 710) come with colour correction filters; when you use these filters, the camera recognizes the colour filters and adjusts the White Balance accordingly.

3- Allows shooting using High Speed Synch (HSS).

What is High Speed Synch (HSS)?

High Speed Synch is one of the most useful features of TTL Flashes. High-speed synch flash is your DSLR’s ability to use a flash at shutter speeds faster than the camera’s native synch. Most cameras have a native synch of 1/200th of a second, and anything faster than that is beyond the camera’s ability to synch the shutter with the flash. But if you happen to be in a situation that requires faster shutter speeds to effectively capture the action, or for other aesthetic reasons (like a wide aperture), then you’ll over-exposure your image. However, high-speed synch flash/camera combinations allow you to use the flash at higher shutter speeds.

When are the times to use High Speed Synch?

High-speed synch flash is used when you want a shutter speed that is faster than your camera’s native flash synch speed, or when you want to use a wider aperture setting that requires a higher shutter speed as is often the case with outdoor daylight shooting. For example, you want to take an outdoor portrait and your TTL meter tells you that the f-stop should be f/16 with a 1/125s shutter. Those settings will give you too much depth of field, way too much actually. Nearly everything in sight will be in focus. Instead, what you want is a sharp subject, but a soft, blurred background, which would be achieved with an aperture of about f/2. That’s six stops of light difference, effectively putting your shutter speed up to 1/5000s. This is easily achievable by setting the flash to High Speed Synch. When you take your photo, you’ll have that beautiful, soft background that the pros get when shooting outside. You’ll also want to use HSS when you’re shooting with a telephoto lens, trying to capture fast action, using a fast shutter speed as well as a high f-stop. So in sports photography High Shutter Synch is ideal, and in some wildlife situations as well.

Flash Photography Tips

In this chart you see how by increasing the shutter speed and passing the synch speed effects the look of the photo

How does High Speed Synch work?

With a high-speed synch flash-capable camera and dedicated flash unit, all you do is set the camera to that setting. But how does it really work? Basically, at high shutter speeds the rear curtain starts to close before the front curtain fully opens. This way only a sliver of exposure moves across the image sensor. It is within this moving sliver of exposure that the flash fires, and voila! A high-speed shutter speed is synchronized to the flash. The flash does fire several times more during shutter traveling time than with standard flash mode. In standard flash mode, the flash fires once and the duration is much shorter than the time it takes for the shutter to move across the image sensor, and before the partially opened shutter covers part of the frame leaving large sections of black in your image. The underexposed black bands in the image is not good, to say the least!

Flash Photography tips

In High speed synch you can freeze the movement.

Stay tuned for our next article about Manual Flash Photography. Meanwhile head on over to our Upcoming Classes page and check out our exciting lineup of upcoming workshops. As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Ted and Omnilargess Team

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