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How to Shoot with your First Flash

Lesson 4 of 28

Camera Setup: Exposure Mode

Mike Hagen

How to Shoot with your First Flash

Mike Hagen

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Lesson Info

4. Camera Setup: Exposure Mode

Lesson Info

Camera Setup: Exposure Mode

So I talked about metering mode, right? So that's the light meter. The light meter is the thing that measures the light on the scene. Next is the exposure mode. So most cameras have four exposure modes. So we have, let's see, program mode, that's the letter P. And I'll turn the camera here this way so the house cameras can see it. So these are my exposure modes here. P, S, A, and M. That's on the Nikon. On the Canon, you've got AV, right, and TV. What does AV stand for? Aperture value. Aperture priority or aperture value. And TV on the Canon? Time, time value, so shutter priority. Okay, cool. So, P, S, A, and M. For me, when I do flash photography, I only choose either aperture priority mode or manual mode. The other modes I don't find as much use for in flash photography. So, let me explain why. Or let me explain why you would use either of these modes. Starting with manual mode, and I'll rotate this to manual mode so you can see this, so I'm in manual mode now. In manual exposure...

mode, nothing changes, right. Your aperture stays the same and your shutter speed stays the same, regardless of what happens. So, another term for that is consistency. A lot of times when you're in the studio, like we are here today, we're indoors, you just want things to be consistent. And things are consistent, you know, the model doesn't move a whole lot. Your tripod and your camera typically stay in one location. Maybe you're changing lights from here to there but for the most part things aren't moving so you kinda want to just lock everything down. You want everything to be consistent. So that's a good, a great hint for you. When you're in the studio and time is on your side, I highly recommend manual exposure mode. It allows you to take a picture, look at the problems with it and then think, "Oh, I need a little bit longer shutter speed, you know, to get the house lights." "I need a little faster shutter speed to reduce the house lights." Manual just lets you kind of methodically move through your lighting arrangement. Aperture priority, that's where you set the camera for A or AV depending on your camera model. That now fixes the aperture in your lens. Let me take this lens off here and just show it to the camera. I think you can see it this way. This is the aperture and the aperture opens or closes depending on what you choose in the camera. So like wide open, that's like F 1. and all the way closed, that's like F 22, okay? So in aperture priority, you're gonna pick, let's say F8 and the camera will always stay at F8. Now, the shutter speed thing, who chooses the shutter speed? The camera. The camera chooses the shutter speed. Well, this is a little dicey because as we're going to learn in a little bit, the shutter speed really matters, right? The shutter speed really matters in flash photography. And most flashes that we own will not synchronize if the shutter speed is too fast. So we have to be thinking and making sure that the shutter speed doesn't go above some threshold and it's different for every camera and I've got a slide on that in a little bit but in general, it's around a 200th of a second. So you don't want your shutter speed to ever go above a 200th of a second otherwise you may have problems getting flash onto your subject. And sometimes you'll get this funky look to your photography like half the frame will be lit up with flash and half won't and trust me, those photos don't sell very well, just not at all. So, aperture priority mode sometimes is problematic because you don't always have control over that shutter speed. And so that's why for a lot of flash photography, as the years go on, I tend to default more and more to manual exposure mode. That's where you have full control over it. And there's nothing to be fearful of in manual exposure mode. I'm going to show you today how I set up these shots and you'll go, "Oh, that makes sense and now I understand why he choose a 60th of a second or why he chooses a 200th of a second. I can do that too."

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

Every photographer encounters situations where the light on their subject is less than ideal. A small flash can have a huge impact on your photos and is easier to use than you think! Photographer Mike Hagen joins CreativeLive to show you how to use your external flash quickly and comfortably. Mike will walk through the different flash options available and how to sync your camera and flash. He’ll walk you through different scenarios and demonstrate how your flash can improve your shots. After this class you’ll walk away knowing: 
  • How to set up your flash with your camera and what to look for when shooting 
  • How to use a flash in scenarios like event photography, portraits, and tabletop photography 
  • Which light shapers work best for your work and how to utilize them 
  • How to use your flash off-camera, working with TTL cables, wireless triggers, and other gear
  • Techniques for using modifiers like umbrellas, softboxes, and reflectors with your off-camera flash 
Don’t get stuck in a low light scenario without the confidence and tools you need to produce an amazing image. 

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Single Flash Lighting Diagrams

Bonus Materials with RSVP

Single Flash Gear List 100 dollars

Single Flash Gear List 250 dollars

Single Flash Gear List 1000 dollars

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Yasemin Soyen

First of all I am very happy to discover Creative Live and since then I learned, enjoyed many classes! This week for the first time I was in the live audience and their sincerity, hospitality made the experience even more valuable. About this class, it was a pleasure to meet Mike Hagen. Besides his wide knowledge, creative thinking and information sharing, he was a very humble, nice teacher, with great positive energy. Thanks everyone!


Fantastic course - Mike is an engaging and entertaining teacher and this course was just what I needed to start using my external flash with confidence. I have had my external flash for a few years but have rarely used it as mastering all the settings was daunting and the results I got were inconsistent. This excellent course changed all that and I'm having great fun taking much better shots with my flash. I highly recommend!

Candy Smith

This class was fantastic. Mike is excellent under pressure when things don't go perfectly, love his style and grace and how encouraging he is to his models, great mentor. I learned so much about using flash, and my pictures are so much better.