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Final Q&A

Lesson 17 from: Introduction to Outdoor Flash Photography

Mike Hagen

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Lesson Info

17. Final Q&A

Lesson Info

Final Q&A

I have a question from online, "Would you ever use a tripod, then, in this scenario, with this Macgyver'ed thing?" We're talking about, you know, having to be by yourself, and... Yeah, here's the thing. I'm really impatient when it comes to my own photography. And, so, I know, I use tripods all the time. I love tripods. I have really expensive, carbon fiber tripods. And I buy them so that I'll use them. And then I bring them with me and, sometimes, I don't use them. So, it depends on how much time you have. That's really what I'm getting to. If you have a lot of time on your hand, and you're gonna spend, maybe, the next 10, 15, 20 minutes photographing this one flower, then I will go all out on the tripod. Also, you guys know this, when you're trying to hand-hold your camera, doing macro work, a lot of times, because you want to use a small aperture, you want, like, maximum depth of field, so you're like at F/16, well, hand-holding, you get blurry shots. And a tripod is really the on...

ly way to get a nice, sharp picture. So, when I need smaller apertures, like F/16 to F/22, then, yeah, I use the tripod. Question? Can you talk a little bit about that macro tube? (Mike) The extension tube? The extension tube? (Mike) Yeah, sure. Let me go grab it from the table over here. And I'll show you how it works on my camera. So, this extension tube, this is an extension tube kit, here, okay? And when you buy them commercially, they basically come in a set of three. And you can see here, we've got 12mm, what is that? 24? 20. So, 12, 20, and 36mm. And all that means is the thickness of the extension tube, okay? So, each lens that you have has a minimum focus distance. So, like, this lens right here, there actually isn't a focus scale on this kit lens but we'll just call it one foot. So, maybe the closest I can focus is one foot away. Well, if we move the lens farther away from the camera, we can now, technically, focus closer to the camera. Kind of funky. So, what we're doing, basically, is just taking the lens and pushing it away from the camera body, so that now we can focus on a subject that's closer. I wanna make sure I don't drop my camera on the floor here. So, let's use, I'll just, for this example, I'll just use this. It just, basically mounts on the back of the lens, and then, you mount that onto the camera, and now we've got, what I'll call, we've turned our standard lens into a closeup lens. You don't get something for nothing. In photography, you never do, at least. So what do you lose? You lose brightness. So, when you put in these extension tubes, it actually gets darker. The size of the hole, the aperture stays the same, but you actually lose the light. So, you're still shooting at F/8, but the amount of light transmission, maybe, is more like F/11 or even F/16 sometimes. There's nothing in here. It's just an empty tube. And, so, we've talked about my DIY classes, you can actually make these on your own. Very inexpensive. You just get a PVC pipe, and get a lens cap and literally glue the lens cap on this side and then the lens mount on that side, and now you've made yourself an extension tube for just a dollar fifty or two bucks. This little setup that I bought here, I think I bought this online. I've had this for a number of years. I think I paid 50 bucks. Maybe 75 bucks. And it actually transmits all the autofocus and it transmits aperture information, as well. So, I get full autofocus and full auto exposure by spending another fifty to sixty bucks. The downside of extension tubes, one more downside, you can't focus at infinity, anymore. So, in other words, now that I have this, I couldn't take a picture of you because it won't focus that far. Now, the focus range is limited to, maybe, two feet away to six inches away. That's the whole focus range that I can use. But these are such an inexpensive and great way to start out with macro photography. I highly recommend them. What is the thing you got hanging on there? What is the belt you're using? Okay, so this is a spider holster. And it's really cool. It mounts on the bottom of your camera. It's a very solid connection. I'll take off my tripod plate. So, basically, it's got this little ball, here, on a little shaft, a little shank, and then it mounts right here. It's very solid. And then it has a little lock here that you can also keep it from coming out. And, so, I can move all around, sorry, camera guys, but it's a very stable way, it puts all the weight on your hips. I also, my other favorite camera strap is made by a company called Peak Design. I love the Peak Design camera straps. They're very good. I do a lot of outdoor and adventure-type stuff, and they have these little clips that I can mount my camera gear to my backpack or to my waist strap. The Peak Design products are excellent, but I think sometimes, for this type of scenario, in class, this is so fast and efficient. Just easy to shoot for studio and location work. A little plug for Spider. Spider holster. All right, great. Question from P.T. Collins is, "How do you determine the sweet spot to place the speed light on the umbrella shaft when taking an outdoor photo? I'm so happy you asked that question because, actually, earlier today, I was thinking through that. And noticing how high my flash was when I was taking some of those photos. So, let me go over here to the demo area of the classroom and show you some thoughts there. This, we talked about earlier today, how we have a little camera on here. So, nevermind this little extension here, but positioning the flash in the umbrella, it actually matters. It matters where you put it. If your flash is really high, then you're not utilizing the full surface area of the umbrella. Ideally, you want the flash to be in the middle of the umbrella. But it's just not always really practical to get the flash down there along the shaft. So, there are some products that, actually, will mount your flash, basically, like that. Like it's laying down, almost directly in line with the shaft. So, in the best case scenario, I would have my flash in the middle, there. When you buy higher-end studio lighting, like the Pro-Photo, the light source is exactly in the center line of the product. So, that's why, sometimes, we spend even more money for this stuff. I realized this earlier, in one of the videos, I had another little brass stud that pushed the flash up another, like, inch and a half, and I was thinking, I shouldn't have done that. That was, kind of, bad technique. You want the flash to be as close to the middle as possible. And then, how about front to back? Well, that matters. Let me walk over here. Front to back matters, as well. So, as I mount this flash there, really, what I want to do is, I want to move the umbrella forward and backward so that the flash ends up filling the entire inner surface area of the umbrella. A lot of these flash, I don't have batteries in this flash, but a lot of these flashes have a modeling light, they have this little button that when you push it, it goes, "buzz." And it sends out light. What I'll do, is I'll hit that modeling light and then move the umbrella forward and backward so that the edge of light, basically, hits right here on the umbrella. So I'm using the whole surface area. Sometimes, people mount the umbrella too close to the flash, and you just, let's just say you paid 200 bucks for a really nice, big umbrella, you're only using 100 bucks of your $200 purchase. So, fill it up with the light. That was a super question. Question about battery life. Is it better to just keep the flash turned on and charged during the shoot? Or does it make sense for it turn on and off, which takes up more battery power? Cool. I'm happy you asked this question, too, because I realized earlier, I forgot to show you this little kit, this little gizmo thing that I have. It's a battery pack. So, first, the high-level question you asked, is it better to leave you flash on for the whole event? And I just say yes. You know, batteries, they're relatively cheap. Buy a bunch of batteries rather than worry about turning your flash on and off. Every time you turn that flash off, it has to reconnect to your communication system. And when you're out in the field, you just don't want to run the risk of it failing to connect at the critical moment. So I just say, buy another set of batteries and just leave them on the whole time. Now, I'm gonna cross over here and grab this little sucker. All right, this is a little battery pack. And you can buy these from Nikon and Canon. And they, basically, hold six batteries. One, two, three, four, five, six. All right? Then, over here, on this side, they've got a little plug. And that plug goes, let me grab my other flash, here. In the front of your flash, there's this little, often times, there's this little plastic cover. Take that little cover out. Put the plug in there. And now you, basically, have four batteries in the flash, six batteries in the pack, and you get, basically, a ten-battery system. This will last a lot longer. And then it will also recharge the flash much quicker. So, when I was shooting those parkour athletes, I should have used this pack. I could have sequenced my flash faster. In other words, I could have had them do a trick, and then, a few seconds later, do another trick, and then do another trick. These always have some type of little screw mount on them. Let me put this on here so I can use my other hand. So, they have this little screw mount. And then that can go, basically, through the body of this. And then you can mount this underneath, on your camera, you can actually screw that to the bottom of your camera. And so now you can shoot you event, and if you're using a flash bracket, or something like that, it can go that way, or, what I sometimes do, this is paracord. It's called 550 paracord. And I have a bunch of this at home. And, now, I can just hang that right here on my light stand, and I'm set to go. So this is a great, relatively inexpensive tool. This is made by a company called Neewer, N-E-E-W-E-R, it's an inexpensive thing that I bought off of Amazon. It was 40 dollars, 40 bucks. The Nikon and the Canon units are not 40 bucks. They're multi-hundreds of dollars. So, it works just fine, though. I actually practiced with it quite a bit over the last few weeks, real happy with the results. Good question on batteries. Yeah, question. Just continuing on batteries. I have a habit of using rechargeable batteries. Do you find, for flashes, because I've never used them in a flash unit before, do they end up losing power over time? Once they've been recharged a few times? Or are they the same? Yeah, the nickel-metal hydrides, they're a very good, reliable battery, compared to the old, NiCds, Nickel-Cadmiums. The old ones, they would form a memory over time and you would never get full capacity out of them after about five or ten times of use. Nickel-metal hydrides, though, I've had, really, no issues with them over the years. There are two types of nickel-metal hydride batteries you can buy. The one I recommend are called low discharge nickel-metel hydrides. Low discharge nickel-metal hydrides. They're a very stable battery. So, like most of you, I'm not using flashes every single day of my life. Sometimes, I'll charge my batteries, I'll put them in my camera bag, and they'll sit there for a few weeks until I do flash photography again. Older nickel-metal hydride, sorry, older technology, they would actually lose charge over those couple of weeks. So then, I'd go put them in my flash, and I'd be like, "what? I thought I had these fully charged." Well, the newer technology, nickel-metal hydrides, are called low discharge, they don't lose voltage over a period of time like two to three weeks, four weeks, they're stable. And then, one other point, don't worry about topping them off. Like, I'll shoot a portrait session and maybe only take 30 or 40 flash photos at a low power, so batteries aren't depleted. I'll still bring them home and then top them off, put them right back in the battery pack. Great question. Cool? All right. Well, any final thoughts for us about outdoors and flashes and making the most out of the power flash? Yeah. You know, you guys, for those of you watching at home, for those of you here in the studio, the title of the class is Introduction to Outdoor Flash Photography. And that's what today is all about. Today is about learning the basics of flash photography. We did nothing sophisticated today, really. Everything is within the reach of anyone who has a flash and a camera. I wanted to make it simple for you all. I wanted to help you understand how to control the light, how to control the ambient light, how to control the flash. And I hope that you all learned some valuable skills, some skills that you can actually use in your own photography. To take you out of being just an ambient light photographer and bring you to the world of ambient plus flash. So, thanks for watching today. I love being active on social media. I love helping people out. So if you guys ever have questions, just shoot me a message. And I get back to people all the time.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Introduction to Outdoor Flash Keynote PDF
Lighting Diagrams

Ratings and Reviews


Mike Hagen has become one of favorite instructors. His instruction and question answers are clear and concise and he has a real world approach. He has a friendly and approachable personality. Best of all during this course he works by himself which makes you feel you too can accomplish the shoot on your own. Mike demonstrates a practical approach with affordable equipment as he is aware many photographers starting off do not have a huge budget. In his other course on using your first flash he also had several gear set suggestions based on budget which was so thoughtful and helpful. I hope Mike does some more advanced courses as well and I will keep watch for his name on the course schedule. A definite thumbs up for photographers starting off using flash.

Brandon Couch

This is the second class I've taken with Mike and it was amazing! So easy to understand even when you get into the "tech" side of how flashes work but especially when using them outside and how easy it is. I would totally recommend this class to anyone wanting to take amazing images outside with one flash. He even makes bare bulb flash look awesome. Such a great course!

Laura K.

I have watched a couple of Mike Hagen's classes, and hope Creative Live will bring him back to teach more. He is a fantastic, thorough, easy-to-understand instructor. He doesn't assume viewers already know certain things. He is humble and diligent and truly wants students to understand and learn the things he is teaching. He breaks things down and explains things better than most, and he doesn't hold back on details. Mike also provides helpful handouts/written materials to supplement his videos. I really like his classes and teaching style, and hope to be seeing more from him in the future.

Student Work