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Defining Flash Photography

Lesson 2 from: FAST CLASS: How to Shoot with your First Flash

Mike Hagen

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Lesson Info

2. Defining Flash Photography

Lesson Info

Defining Flash Photography

So let's go ahead and start with defining what flash photography is. So flash photography. If you're using a flash like this, I like to think this. Think of this as user defined light user, Our photographer defined light. You are defining what the what this part of the light equation does. OK, so you're in control of this. Some people call this artificial light. I don't I think a better term is, you know, user to find light cause you're controlling it. There's nothing artificial about light. Light is light as light. You know there's sunlight. There's the lights in the studio that are shining on me right now. There's if these shades were open, there'd be outside like, you know, window light. This is just like that. You define how to use, and that's cool. This puts you in control. You know, flash photography kind of puts you in control of the scenario. You're no longer at the whim of the weather. You know, we're here in Seattle and we at breakfast this morning. We're all talking about th...

e weather and how hard it is to just function in the rain. You know, do I go out and shoot. Do I not gonna shoot if I If I've got I'm in a photograph? My granddaughter Do we do inside? Do it outside. Well, with flash retired, you have to worry about that. You can kind of control the lighting situation. OK, it's a strobe. So this is a strobe that I'm gonna call this a flash. I'm gonna call it a strobe. I'm gonna call it a speed light called all sorts of terms that pertain around the term flash. But the stroke, what that really means is there's a pulse of light. You know, it's an instantaneous pulse. Very, very quick. So we need to think through that as you're planning your ah photography, you know, how long is your shutter speed? We'll shutter speed. What? 1/ of a second. Maybe a 2/100 of a second. That solicitor shutter speed is that long? The pulse of light from the flash is like 1/1000 of a second to maybe a 10/1000 of a second. So if your shutter is open this long, your flashes only letting in your flashes pulsing for a very short period of time that the shutter is open, okay? And So throughout the day, you're going to hear me talking about this quite a bit. That flash photography you have to manage to exposures. You have to manage the ambient light exposure. You know, the lights that are around you and you have to manage the pulse of light from the flash and their separate thought processes All the cameras try to automate it, and we'll talk about how that's automated. You know, like t t l. But you still have to understand that there's always two exposures, the pulse of light from here, and then the duration of the shutter. Ah, and, you know, and the size of the aperture on your camera. So let's talk about ambient light. Okay, Well, what are the types of ambient light? What you guys think? What? I've got all the answers there, but yeah. What? We got sunlight. Okay, how about inside the house? You know, so get your kitchen lights or your living room lights. Um, we call these sometimes artificial lights. The interior lights artificial. Well, there's really nothing artificial about it right there. They're they're part of the equation. And so sometimes, even you have a combination of lights You know, you've got your obviously your incandescent lights in your living room and doesn't even know what color those are typically warmer, cooler, warmer. And then you can also get daylight balanced light. So we have to think about the color of those lights. So if you're if you're trying to combine the ambient light with the flash, that's another thought process we have to go through, you know, and I always talk about it this way. Do you want to include the ambient light? Where do you want to exclude the ambient light? A skin A was talking this morning. You know, I'm back here taking photos, and I purposely excluded the ambient light. And so to do that, what I did was I used a fast shutter speed, fast shutter speed. Hello, I s o. And then most of the light then comes from the flash. I'm gonna talk to that a lot more today. You know some of your going who? Quick write that down. But I'll hit on this multiple times. Uh, if I wanted to include the ambient light, I have to have a long shutter speed. Right? So if I wanted the these beautiful studio lights to be included. I would have a long shutter speed, and then I would still pulls the flash pop. Okay, So, ambient light. We have to think through that ambient light on whether or not you want to include it in the process. So I just kind of talked about this here, you know, balance trying to balance all of this. And this is really one of the main difficulties of flash photography. You know, people like, Well, how do I balance? Do I need to balance? Do I want to balance? You know, window? I choose to balance the background with the foreground. You know, some people want that, you know? So let me throw a couple of scenarios out there. Let's say you're photographing a wedding, and now Ah, the bride and the groom are going to be cutting the cake. And in that situation, maybe the background behind them. You've got this really nice ambiance, right? I'm imagining these lights hanging from the trellis. It's evening, maybe the sky's blue and that type of thing, you know, it kind of the blue hour. In that case, the atmosphere is so beautiful. You want to balance. So you have to set up those two exposures. You have to set up one exposure. That's your shutter speed and aperture so that you get that nice background light. And then you have to set up your other exposure with your flash so that it balances so that your flash doesn't, like, blow them out or that your flash doesn't under expose them. So see how I'm thinking. So there isn't always an answer. There isn't always an answer about. Should I always balance or should I not balance? You have to decide. And that's where your creative vision comes into play here. You should always decide before you take your flash photo. What do you want to do? What light do you want to include? And what light do you want to exclude? Okay, that's where it starts. You decide later today when our model is in here. Andre, you know I have I'm gonna have to start thinking, you know, do I want this brick wall to be lit up by that that house light? Do I want to include that, or do I want to exclude that? Don't want Andre to be lit by just the flash or some combination, Okay. And so how we do that, I'm gonna go over the screen here. So how we do that is we balance shutter speed. We balance aperture, and I s O and I shouldn't use the word balance for this. We we decide shutter speed aperture, and I s o we're gonna hit on this in a little bit, but shutter speed really hits on shutter speed defines how long the camera stays open. Toe light aperture. That's the hole in the lens, right? Aperture really defines how much light from the flash comes in. And then I s o I realized I needed another slide here. I s o divines the camera sensitivity to all the light. And then the last part of the equation is flash power. And this is one of the one of the things that people are confused about all the time. You know, if the flashes too bright, if the flashes to dark Well, how do I just that flash power and I'm gonna show you how we do that today. This flashlight I'm holding here is Ah, it's an off brand flash. I paid about 30 bucks for 30 or 40 bucks. And the simple the simple approach is just hit the power button and up and down. So if you're flash, photo ends up being too bright, you just push up with the power button. If it's too, I'm sorry you push down with the power button, and if the flashes too dark, you just hit up. It's quite simple. And with digital photography, now you can take a picture and you look at it chipping right and you look at it and go No, too dark. Just make a change. That's the beauty of digital. Um, I was telling a story yesterday about one of my first professional photography shoots, and I shot for a client, had a gym down in Portland, Oregon, area, and he hired me to photograph people working out of Jim's for advertising. And now is probably 18 years ago is like my very first flash photography job, and I was terrified because I didn't know my flashes. So I turned everything on auto camera on auto flashes on auto, and it was back in the film days. I couldn't look at the results in real time, so I'm just taking these photos. I'm like Lord, please, please come out. Of course I get my film back. And I was very depressed with my photographs. I felt like I let myself down. I felt like I let the client down. He did abusing him. But I'm like you don't have to put my name on the on the advertising. So he was one of those jobs. You get paid for your like I'm not real pleased with it, But after today, you guys will not make that mistake. I can guarantee you.

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Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

Great fast-class! Mike Hagen got straight to the point and made it super easy to understand!


Great course very informative and so easy to understand.


The class covers exactly what you would expect. Very good basic information about how to set-up and operate a flash on any camera. Mike was extremely personable and communicated very well.

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