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On-Camera Flash and Modifiers

Lesson 31 from: Location Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

On-Camera Flash and Modifiers

Lesson 31 from: Location Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

31. On-Camera Flash and Modifiers


Class Trailer

Day 1


Class Introduction


Principles of Light


Speedlights vs Strobes


Compressing the Scene


Location Lenses and Lenshoods


Metering Modes and Back Button Focus


Natural Light Reflectors


Lesson Info

On-Camera Flash and Modifiers

so let's talk about on camera flash and I was a whole bunch of people online that kept saying I'm a photographer that does everything by myself how do I do this you have multiple assistance well of course you don't need multiple assistance I said you could have a friend or thes subjects mom or brother whatever it maybe help you out or you could take a stand off camera and you just are in charge of watching that stand but sometimes for events that's just not really probable you're not going to be running around an event where there's tons of people putting your stand down everywhere so there actually is a lot that you can do with on camera flash and on camera flash is going tio free up your hands it's going to allow you to be very very mobile you just have to know how to use it right and how to modify it to still get nice pictures so we're going to start talking about that when shooting events sometimes you do keep your flash on camera or maybe that's the only thing you have it's just y...

ou he needs the other running gun photograph quickly and it did this a lot at weddings and so what you learn is you learn to bounce your life so what I want to do is I'm gonna take a minute to show you in this particularly boring environment the different tools I have available to improve the quality of light when my flashes on camera I can bounce the light I can add modifiers I can defuse the light so we're going to take a look at those different approaches so first of all let's take a look at what we all know we're not supposed to do we're not supposed to shoot flash on camera and the reason is flash on camera tends to be pretty harsh and not flattering the shadows they're going to be very dark the highlights are going to be very speculative meaning very bright so if someone is parting there dancing at a reception and they're sweating and having a great time you use this flash and all of a sudden all that sweat becomes apparent or someone has slightly greasy skin your definitely going to notice it here furthermore it's definitely a no no when somebody has glasses on but let's take a look at what it looks like okay here perfect great okay and I always laugh because when I photograph professional models like we have here they look good no matter what light but when you look up close it's it is the flash on camera look she has a highlight between her eyebrows on her nose and on her cheeks it's not really modeled light it's definitely not soft so what else can we do alright well there is something that we can do directly in camera and I actually have this diffuser that comes with this flash this again is the photo meet us plus clip it on the front of the splash and now it's going to be a much more diffused light source there are several companies they actually make these little don's what it does is it just softens and spreads the light also know that this will not hugely but it will drain the battery of your flash a little bit more because it is cutting out a lot of light let's take a look at just how much this improves the shot same exact saying I was right here so if you look at that the shadow is just a little bit softer in the highlights aren't quite as bright so it is a bit more flattering not ideal but still okay and also if your father doesn't come with this is a couple companies that will make something like this stuff in makes one also many flashes also have a bit of something on the end of the flash that this is actually intended to shoot for wide angle when you pull out this material right here it spreads out the light but in doing so it also softens it a bit so where's case in air and you could do that as well all right so what do we have next okay well the next thing that we can do is we can balance the light and what you generally always but almost always have a feeling and just keep in mind wherever you do choose to balance the light it needs to be a neutral surface so right now we have a lot of latest brahe ish walls and ceilings here so this is an ideal situation white gray something neutral colored but let's say that we're in an event hall and this is a red wall definitely not going to want to bounce it off that red wall because the light is going to take on the quality of whatever surface it bounces off so it will definitely become bright red and then your subject will be red watch out for ceilings too especially if you have like a wooden ceiling sometimes is going to give a brown or reddish tint to your photograph all right so let's say that we're in a big reception hall no walls close all I've got is my ceiling all right well let's take a look at what it looks like when I bounced this light awful this feeling take a look here all right so you look and the light is much much softer as it's travelled up it's bounced back down and spread out now the only problem we have here just have a little bit of shadows in her eyes in fact there isn't really a catch like on some people that have really deep sunken eyes this will not look flattering at all so we got to find some way to pop a little bit of a catch light in there and so what I would do is most flashes have just a little piece of white paper that you can pop up and what it does is when the light flashes up it'll just bounce a little bit towards your subject and give them just a little bit of a catch like so let's give that a try as well and now if you look she's got just a little pop of light in her eye now this is nice but it's not very bakes there's not really a lot of phil it's just that tiny speculum highlight what you could do let's say that you're at an event or wedding and maybe there's a paper plate or an envelope you could actually take a hair tie if you're a woman or a rubber band and attach that piece of white paper or that envelope or whatever it is right here and use that as a bounce card so you're bouncing off the ceiling and then kicking a little bit more into the eyes and in fact the late isn't bad it will depend on how far away the ceiling is how close it is sometimes it's the ceilings really close it'll bounce straight up hit the ceiling and then come back down it is going to create a really dark shadows in the eyes because it hasn't had time to spread out and soften so just keep that in mind other times when the ceiling is really far away your killing your flash because it has to put up so much power to reach the ceiling and bounce back that brings me to an important point something else that you want to remember this whole time is that if you're trying to bounce your flash to improve the quality of light you're probably going to need to shoot teo in fact you're definitely going to need to shoot tl because if you're shooting manual you're going to have to calculate and change based on the distance of the wall as you're moving and your subjects as they're moving is all of that affect their exposure so usually you're just shooting on tt l and then you're working with the flash compensation to improve the quality and exposure of the light so he bounced off the ceiling we've done a little bit of this kick card forward but I can also bounce off the walls and if you have a wall to bounce off of this is my favorite thing to do for portrait at a wedding I find a big white wall I'd bring the family over you know one or two people and use that as a big light source basically when I point this flash at the wall now this wall becomes my big light source like a big scream or big soft box so let's take a look at what this looks like over here all right so I am going to go ahead and rotate my flash so it is bouncing off the wall grate and now it is a much much softer light source and it's also interesting because now it's coming from the side instead of from straight honor from above now looking at this I also know that if this is the light source right now she's a little bit split light right she split lip because this is a light source and she's facing for so perhaps if I want a little bit flatter light where I wanted to wrap around her face a little I can have her turn towards that wall and I can change my position to to bounce off that wall all right so let's just take a look how about a face you just face me towards this wall great may still have his pointed at the wall good it's not gonna have a much flatter light source so just know that you can't just bounce off the wall it depends on where that light is compared to your subjects you might have to make changes so I think something I think the light maybe looks like it's bouncing from a little too low gonna turn this light up point into the corner and shoot her from right here and that is a really soft light source and it's flat but it has a little bit of shape because I'm balancing from a high angle so if you have to have your flash on camera what you want to do is you want to try to defuse the light want to try to soften it you want to try to bounce it this is if you have nothing to work with just the flash itself now of course there are endless modifiers that you can purchase every different company has one there is the pocket box there's different modifiers made by last light there's soft boxes there's thie flash bender and what all of these are trying to do all of these modifiers that you attach to your flash they're trying to make the light bigger and as we've talked about it many times before the larger the light source the softer it appears on your subject again it's larger that light sources relative to your subject so even a smaller light source something that I used to expand this like a soft box if I'm close to my subject it'll be relatively large compared to my subject and so it's going to be soft light if I take that same soft box and I'm shooting from thirty feet away it's still going to be hard flight so keep that in mind but there are a wide range of these different modifiers let's take a look at a couple of them right now I've added a modifier onto my flash and this is the rogue flash bender and right now it has a couple different materials you can choose from white what is going to be softer silver which is going to have a little bit more contrast but it will kick the light a little bit further so you've seen what it looked like to have my flash on camera right now the way that I have this modifier set up is not on ly will bounce off the ceiling so it'll give me a little bit of shape from bouncing from above but it also has this large surface it's going to kick a little bit of light there back towards the eyes filling those shadows were going to notice that it's significantly more flattering than flash straight on to the subject or bounce off the ceiling beautiful women come a little closer great so the closer that I get myself checked the larger this light source is relative to the subject so the closer that I get the softer against when I back up here the light isn't going to be nearly as soft or nearly asked letter but looking at it still not bad so this is something I would definitely add to my location lighting kit especially from shooting event like weddings and I know that I don't have extra hands for stands I don't want a big set up and it rolls up quickly and I can shove it right back in my back but let's take a look at another modifier you can add to your flash just improve the quality of light something else you should know about using modifiers on your flash is that this particular modifier and many of the other modifiers are actually intended to have light bounce around this is intended for example to bounce off the ceiling the way this is set up other ones that air dome like are intended to bounce off the walls and ceilings and anything around so when you're using these modifiers be aware of what the quality were the color of the walls are so for example if this wall is red no problem with this particular modifier the light isn't really kicking there but if the ceiling has a funky color it's going to balance offense going to show up on your subject if I'm using another modifier that's adult that kicks light everywhere it'll definitely pick up whatever color exists on that walls so that's something to be aware of certain modifiers allow you to block out light like this one it has a diffusion panel that I can put over top of this slash bender and I can actually block off over the top so what that will do is it on ly force like ford and prevent any bounce from the sailing so just be aware of your environment and check out if anything is going to give you color contamination on your subject this is by no means an exhaustive look at all the different modifiers you can have for flash on camera and we're going to go much more in depth all the modifiers that I personally use when I take my flash off camera but I wanted to give you another look at a type of modifier and this is the dome type what it does is it not only in largest the head of the flash but also softens the light and then kicks in every different direction so whether I'm shooting with it pointing towards my subject are bouncing off the ceiling it just gives you this nice glowing light and this particular one is a modifier created by gary fong he has a whole bunch of different ones uh a couple of their modifiers whether it's last the light there's one that's called light spin three sixty let's take a look at what this one looks like hears it pointing up at the ceiling beautiful it's very soft it's still directional cannot pointed directly at her and again it's going to be in this case still pointed at her so it's going to be a little harsher they also have domes that orange color temperature orange much like you would gel a flash teo match its environment so let's say we're in a room that's all tungsten light I could actually added dome that is color temperature orange and now when it's bouncing off the ceiling I could have a little bit of a warmer tone coming from my flash to match a little bit more of the ambient light so there are endless modifiers endless adapters endless different things and I can't tell you what's right for you but you definitely want to check them out talk to your friends talk to other photographers you know test them out to see what's going to be best for the type of photography that ugo one more thing I'm going to do I just want it bounce this into this wall and just take a look at what it does good pop it up this way good right there beautiful so even with modifiers like this on you can still bounce off the ceiling can still bounce off the walls to remember all those qualities of light you get from bouncing light it's going to be improved better direction of lay under subjects thinks and honestly to me this starts to look like I have a big soft box to the side of my subject extremely flattering great for portrait's great for events all right so let's talk specifically about modifiers that are intended for on camera flash shoes who's don't worry we've got a whole bunch of other modifiers to talk about for taking your flash off camera but let's just look at a few things for specifically on your camera so I did talk about this this light sphere that dairy farm makes he makes several other ones this is not the most recent one but thiss just pops off so if you wanted to put they have one that's a little bit orange just to warm up the scene I use this a ton when I shot weddings a ton because I'm running around I might be maybe um outdoors and I don't have walls to bounce off of you can actually put something that doesn't let the light come out the top it blocks it and so all it would do is just kick a little bit of softer light out towards my subjects just made it a little bit easier shooting on location all right um probably the modifier that I use most if I'm shooting a portrait trying to do a flash on camera look would be this and this is called the rogue flash bender and the entire point of everything that you're doing with putting a modifier on your camera or bouncing it off the wall the whole point is to try to make that light source bigger and softer like that's that's the whole idea behind these so what this does is if it's on your cameras on your flash it just makes the light source a little bit bigger your flash actually talks up in it lindsay actually we had a request from l would you mind actually just demonstrating how those hook on there yeah there's a little bit complicated thank you totally so I've got this upside down all right so what it has is it's got this little flap and all it does is it wraps around your flash and then you connect it so which camera wants to see that I'll try to do it where the camera can see okay okay great so I'm going to put that on like that and it just wraps around with velcro and it snaps over and then that's all there is to it so it's actually not too bad at all something like that I just want to talk about what's all this stuff that's on it and why would you need it all right so you have white on the centre if you just want that remember how I had the little kick we'll take this off so you can see the little kid card to give you a little bit of a catch light in the eye it's that but much much bigger if you just have the white you attach it to the front and it's just kicking a little bit of light ford okay there's also one which hold this real quick there's also material that is silver and so this is if you want a little more kick for it it's going to be a little contra more contrast e maybe not quite as flattering but this material is good if you can't get close to your subject with generally in portrait's right you can't get really closer just sort of the face so this is going to be good if you're a little bit further all right so then you have this diffusion material thank you that goes on the front here and what this is doing is it's turning it into an on camera soft box because now the flash shoots up here and then it just kicked out diffused light the set up that I use most often is going to be silver on the inside with this on the front and it gives me a little bit of kick ford it also is a fake weap on the top what this flap is for is you can leave it open if you want a little bit of light to hit the ceiling or if you're intending this to be a soft box you close it often at fuller's forces all the light straight ahead this is really important to remember is if you are shooting in a room that has a colored ceiling and you just put this on your flash and using this as a little kid card and it bounces off the ceiling and now it has a really funky color so you're gonna use that diffusion material and block off the top to make sure the light doesn't spill where you don't want it to be um this is what I use if I'm shooting with my flash on camera real quick we fell in perfect I actually will use this if I'm taking my flash off camera I find it a little bit too unwieldy to have sitting on top of my camera but if I have it off camera it's fine and I can bring it really really close this could actually be decent sign soft box if you bring it close enough I was teaching a class and somebody said hey she showed me how to use flash off camera and I didn't have any modifiers with me except for this and they wanted to make a beauty shot so we brought this really close with a reflector underneath and it was basically clamshell light like in the studio a soft box and fill from below but one of my favorite things about these is they really really durable so you can quickly fold them up stick him in your bag don't have to worry about them breaking where as I've had several other like for example this is already kind of broken because I'm really rough with my gear so when I'm done I throw it in my bag and throw it in my car and so it has bendy plastic pieces like this that can break off I do like if it falls apart so I tried to pick something a little bit more durable that's why this is good it would take a lot to break this all right let me to see before I go on to another modifier any questions so far and what we covered yeah how you said like if he bounce it off a red wall like is there gels that couldn't neutralize it so that that is a great questions I've had this question before if you're bouncing off say a red wall are there gels that you can use to neutralize it and that is far too complicated cause you'd never be able to actually match that exact color and then you're trying to get a custom white balance for it so you really can't bounce off a colored wall and expect to get a good result however something you can do I don't have it out here but if you watch sunday one if you are if you have an assistant and you're in a pinch where you walk into a place you like the whole thing has green walls and I really wanted to do that balance light what you could do is you can use a reflector and turn the flash to bounce into that reflector or whatever you have I believe I think it's think it's last late I want to say yeah this would be this would be a little bit too small to really get bounced it would turn the light source to this big which is certainly bigger than just your flash if you bounce into it so kind about your real quick stephen we hold this I could go ahead turn my flash pointed into that reflector and return you this way towards me so now this is the light source and it's basically a pretty decent large size soft box right there so if for some reason I have zero modifiers but I do have my flash and I do have my reflector I can use my reflector as a light source at a little pop up wall um the thing I was trying to remember if there's one brand that has gigantic pop up reflectors like the huge like full length you can also use them as backgrounds so if you take a person size white pop up reflector background you could do the same thing and create a wall for yourself and that's what I'm talking about sunday one as well for the window light where you have the subject with her back to the window and then you have that white wall behind you it's just beautiful light so it actually is pretty useful tohave a white reflector it's great that you said that jordan doke photography had asked exactly that can you use a reflector is a fake wall on driver forty nine said bless you lindsay for demonstrating that it is okay to use flash on camera if you work it with the right techniques is that something that you hear just in general don't use flash on camera well it depends on what you're doing with it so let's ask a question from out of my mind photo says what about shooting on on camera flash at a forty five degree angle with the diffuser uh on okay so I'm gonna assume they mean like forty five degree angle like this way like kitty corner with the diffuser on it you'll get that would be best if you're just trying to get like a tiny papa light in the eyes because you'll still get the corner of it so that would be if you're just trying to get a tiny bit but then you could just with the diffuser turn it this way and turned on the power so it's not super youthful wouldn't make too much of a difference um can I demo another modifier all right and I'm told I'm totally fine with any questions whenever you want them um I mentioned you can put this on this just softens a tiny bit but there's one modifier that I didn't use in thie video that I wanted to show you very popular if you want to be able to have eight hun of versatility out of one modifier that goes for flash on camera there's something called the late spin three sixty alright sounds super fancy and cool so what it basically is is this it's a circle that attaches to the top of your flash and then you stick stuff on it depending on what you're trying to do so let's say that you know that this a little pop up thing you want to kick like ford but it's really that's barely anything it's just for a catch light so I mentioned you could use an envelope or a piece of paper well what this kit comes with it exactly that bigger bounce cards so I can go ahead and slide it in here and rotate it and now I have a big bounce card and because it's round it kicks more of the light ford instead of when it's flat you lose light out to the sides so it actually gives you pretty nice phil all right so you could do that but then let's say you know I want I want to soften like I want to kick a little bit softer light forward I could go ahead and put on a diffusion dome and there's diffusion dome that fits right on there so I can put that on there's a grid if you're trying to focus the light this all this does this doesn't really soften the light it spreads it out more because it makes the head of the flash just a little bit bigger and because it's a dome is going to kick light in more direction so maybe if you're bouncing you want to expand the head a little bit so it kicks light around a little bit more you've got a snu basically selling to focus the light if you want to spotlight or if you want to just kick the light for a little bit like that little card something like this so this light spin three sixty that I have here the whole point is that no matter what you want you can have it in one modifier and it does a little bit all of it all so definitely check that out especially if you want to be able to say use the flash for a spotlight take this for put a spotlight on a guy maybe you're doing like really dramatically and you just want um you just want like a spot of light if you put this grid on it now focuses the light and you could use it on camera for really really dramatic or if you can take it off camera you can use it as well so it's cool there are probably eight hundred million different modifiers for flashes so granted these are just the ones that I have used most often all right so what kind of questions you guys have first of all I think it's important just to clarify that these air options we are not suggesting go out and buy every single one of these and use every single one of these on every shoot these air options there different ways that you can you know reflect and bend and modify the light and each of them have their pros and cons right this is why the eight hundred million companies exist because everybody has a different flavor that they like a different quality of light when I was shooting weddings I really like this I don't like it so much for portrait I go for a flash bender and said for portrait but if I'm maybe shooting an event and I want endless capabilities maybe the three sixty it depends on what type of photography you dio and then what you're comfortable with maybe you were freaked out by all the parts that come with the three sixties you're just like I don't want to worry about it I need something that folds up really really small that I can shove literally shoved in my back pocket maybe that's what you prefer so it kind of depends on how you are as a person that's what I do really well with these because I'm that kind of person it's true all right let's see here question about bouncing light from moon jade alec dark and I used the floor if the ceiling is too high as a reflector awesome question no because what happens is wherever you bounced that flash it takes on that direction of light so if I find a wait for so I don't know how you do that on camera but let's assume you find a way to balance it off the floor then you're going to get bottom light there are ways I could argue like you could be really fancy and find a way to do it is a film like I wouldn't bother just try to bounce off the wall or ceiling or create your own ceiling with her wall with a reflect exactly that and I think that if you have someone to help you out that's a really good option if you don't have anything else and especially if you're not ready to buy something else you just want to be able to have a little bit softer light just using you like he doesn't even have to be reflected it could be a piece of foam core three dollars ninety nine cent foam core that you can get at the craft store have someone hold it bounce light into its a big diffuse light source yeah and I think that that's something that I'm sure will be going into later as we talked about getting your camera off your flash off camera because one of the questions that has been coming in is like what we do if we're in a huge space with no walls nero subject it set and we'll talk about that later but one more question this is something that I experience because I used to use the flash wonder all the time when I was shooting kind of more event type stuff and I loved it but um no garo says what about when you hold the camera vertically for vertical shots this makes the flash stick well to the left or right creates bad shadows and for me like the flash bender I was using the really large one and actually kind of would fall off something so yeah I might not have had it attached completely correctly but is there something you recommend for when you're shooting vertically so the flash bender the extra large one I don't use that on camera for that reason it's too unwieldy if you take that big light source and turn to the side it just flops over if you are turning your camera to the side this way you get a little bit more of a side light so you have to kind of rotate it a little bit so it's coming from a slightly upward angle change the shape of it so now some shooting sideways I've kind of pointed it from above instead of totally from the side which would be a little bit low in a little bit too side lit so they're definitely ways to manipulate it but the big one so I don't use it on camera it's just a little bit too hard to handle and what size flash wonder is that that you're using there you know this one is the regular size and what they called the standard size and the big one this is the x l this is the xl and by the way there's all these other manipulations you khun due to actually like if you use a different strip we have in here you can put this on instead and it bends it like a cone so you have more of a strip light and that's really good if you're trying to do dramatic light because then I can pull it off to the side and have just a strip of light a beam of light on the face and so that's all that is is just changing out the diffusion panel because it makes it bend

Class Materials

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Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Keynote 3
Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

This class was amazing. Lindsay Adler is a great presenter...I learned so much.....I love that she spoke about natural light..strobes and speedlites. Wonderful information. I purchased this and I am glad I did. Great job Lindsay. Jean


Lindsey Adler is one of the best and most engaging photography instructors in the USA. I highly recommend this lighting course. It felt more like a 101 and a 102 course than just a basic course. She teaches in a way that makes learning alot of fun and the amount of time & effort that she puts into her video and class presentations are second to none. Her classes are well worth their weight in gold and you will walk away with a wealth of knowledge!


Lindsay is amazing , I love the way she explains everything!! This course is filled with GREAT information and helps you better understand natural lighting,strobe and flash. Thank You Lindsay, please keep your classes coming!

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