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Class Introduction

Lesson 1 from: Getting Started with Off-Camera Flash

Erik Valind

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Lesson Info

1. Class Introduction

Lesson Info

Class Introduction

What I want to do in the next 90 minutes is to get you comfortable with setting up your camera and setting up a flash if you already have one, or if you're thinkin' of buying one, and then getting out there and creating environmental portraits, working it into a studio or environment. So, let me just go ahead and jump in a little bit. If you're not familiar with my work, definitely check out my Instagram and website, and let me know if you have any questions online. But, I'm like most of you, probably. I'm completely self-taught, except I'm self-taught in an age before Creative Live, before we could tune in and watch wonderful classes like this. So, I grew up in Florida, and I grew up takin' pictures of my friends out there on the beaches. You can't beat the location, it's sunny 365 days out of the year. The only problem was, I really quickly realized that maybe shooting portraits at high noon wasn't the most flattering light to put my subjects in. So, if you guys have ever gone out an...

d taken a picture at high noon, I'm sure you can relate to that. So, what I figured out over the next decade was how to add strobes, and how to modify that light to get some beautiful light to put my subjects in while still portraying the incredible locations and backgrounds that I get to go photograph in, so it's kind of that perfect marriage. So what I hope to do in this class is distill that 10 years of knowledge, and trial and error, down to about 90 minutes for you, and save you a lot of time and effort in the process. So, let's go ahead and jump in. And at the end, we're gonna throw a little inspiration out there, too, 'cause you can't teach it all in 90 minutes. But I want to get your gears working for what you can do with strobes and really what it enables you to do as a photographer. So, let's go ahead and jump over here. This is an example of not my best work, but this is an example of what you're gonna see when I was out there just starting as a photographer or where you guys may be right now. So, you go out there, and you have a neat location. In this instance, I'm in New York City by Belvedere Castle in Central Park, and I use my iPhone or my camera on auto mode, and I'm getting these blown-out skies, alright? The next thing I might do is change my settings manually and I'm trying to get an exposure for my skies, now I can see my beautiful sky, but I've lost my subject, alright? So, I have this silhouette going on. So, can any of you relate to this, I mean in the live feed? (laughs) Yeah, it's like one or the other, why can't I get both, right? This is another thing I run into, you're out there shootin' in the sun, I mean the sun is there, it's wonderful light if we know how to work with it, but you get a lot of squints when the sun is your main light source, 'cause you have to turn people looking into the light, so that's not the best expressions on their face. So, those lighting situations are difficult, it's what we deal with every day, and I wanna show you how to overcome that with strobes. So, we're gonna jump in, why we add strobes in the first place? So, I like to have a plan of attack, and a reason behind adding strobe lights. I just don't wanna say, "Hey, I bought this new strobe, "let's use it," I wanna use it with intention. So, one of the first reasons I like to use strobes is to reproduce what my eye can see. So, this is, kind of, going out there on location, beautiful subject, beautiful location, and I wanna have that in-camera. The next thing is to flatter our subjects, because you saw that photo, when you've got your friends and family members squinting at you, you're not doin' 'em any favors, you're not flattering them. And finally, to create whole new scenes, and this is what enables you to be a real creative, an artist as a photographer, with strobes is you can create things that don't exist in real life, you can create them in your camera. So, here's some examples, let's go ahead and just jump in here. To reproduce what our eyes can see is what I call HDR photography with light, alright. Now, HDR photography, landscape photographers use all the time, it's taking multiple exposures for the highlight, the shadow, and the midtones, and merging them together. But, with light, we can go ahead and do that in camera with a single photograph. So here's our exposure, we set our camera for the highlights to get that data. We want to see our subject though, so we want to expose for the shadows, as well, so what we do is through a combination of camera settings and adding strobes, we can get this, we can get the best of both worlds, flattering light on our subject, nice, lit exposure in the shadows, and all the detail and the highlights. So, that's one of the main reasons I switch over to strobes when I'm on location, it's 'cause I wanna be able to get that HDR look in-camera, I want all the detail. The next thing is to flatter our subjects. So, this picture right here, I've got a pretty model, a cute dress, we've got a neat location, I found these vines with the sun coming through, and I was like, this is gonna be a great shot. I set it up, I get my photograph, and I'm like, eh, I have all the pieces, but that's not the most flattering light on my subject, is it? If you look, she's got the shadow under the eyes, and she's givin' me everything, but as a photographer I'm coming up short here. So by adding a light, look at the difference this makes. Adding one small flash, this was a speed light, so this is a hundred dollar strobe with just a pop-up umbrella, huge difference, just adding light with intention to flatter your subject. And there it is right there, just a simple light stand, a simple umbrella, nothing expensive, nothing fancy, just one light, one modifier. And finally, here's my favorite thing to do. My favorite thing to do is create entire new scenes, and this is how I make a living as a commercial photographer. We're gonna do some shots here, in the studio in a little bit. It's a super overcast day, it's not really beautiful, interesting light, but we're gonna create some interesting light in-camera with strobes, and this is the technique we're gonna use right here. So here's an instance where I was out shooting in Las Vegas. We had rented this amazing super car, I was working with ballerinas from the Nevada Ballet Company, we're in the Valley of Fire, like, everything was just fire in here. I had location, subject, everything. But by the time (laughs) we got out to location, the sun had already set. So it was a little disappointing, you know? So what I did is I brought out a strobe, you can see it in the background, and I was able to go ahead and set up my strobe with some gels, balance out some camera settings, and I was able to walk away with this where it looks like I had beautiful sunset still coming over the mountains. I basically turned back time, I made it look like how it had been 30 minutes prior to us arriving there. The next thing I do, as a commercial photographer, all the time is try to create different looks indoors. So this is a shot before any of the lights were firing, and I've got someone working out in a gym location but there's a snowstorm outside in New York City at like 10 o'clock at night, okay? So, this isn't the most beautiful, warm, like, let's-get-up-and-get-motivated-to-work-out photograph. Alright, so what we did is we popped on some lights, and I was able to make it look like it was beautiful, morning sunrise. So I don't know about you, I'm not a morning-workout person, I'm late night, but this is very motivating to get out there with the sun to work out. But just with strobe lights, we can make it look like someone's working in the gym at night, in the morning, or at high noon. So, it's amazing what you can do with light. Yeah, you can take this a step farther, too. You can get really crazy with it, you can start doing stroboscopic stuff. In an afternoon class here, we're gonna do some really advanced things, where we're draggin' our shutter and playin' with time and exposure with flash, as well. So I really want you to kind of take these basics and then use that to motivate you to continue learning and continue educating yourself, 'cause the sky's the limit when it comes to strobe lighting.

Ratings and Reviews


this is a super express class, fantastic... within very little time the guy explains what other need hours and hours to explain. clear explanations supported by practical examples how to sue light and what happens. this i avery basic but if you need to refresh your basic knowledge it is highly recommended to listen to this guy, he is good he is also fun

Jeanna Rice

Worth every penny! I'm a natural light photographer looking to have more control in less than ideal lighting situations and this class was perfect! Erik covers so much great information in an efficient and effective way. He automatically answered all my questions just as they came to mind throughout the class! Love that he covered both creating dramatic and natural-looking lighting no matter the environment you're in! Thanks Erik!


Erik is concise, approachable and effective with his teaching style. This class had the perfect tempo yet covered some of the most important concepts and things that people usually struggle with (aka me) which is mixing ambient light with flash. Superb class, superb teacher.

Student Work