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Understanding the Magic of Flash

Lesson 5 from: Real World Lighting: Advanced Techniques

Scott Robert Lim

Understanding the Magic of Flash

Lesson 5 from: Real World Lighting: Advanced Techniques

Scott Robert Lim

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Lesson Info

5. Understanding the Magic of Flash

If you can’t control one flash - there is no way you can control two. Learn flash like the back of your hand.


Class Trailer

Day 1


Course Introduction


What Photographers Should Know


Lighting Gear Box


My Camera Gear


Understanding the Magic of Flash


Shoot: Essential Skill #1 - Lighting Positions


Essential Skill #2 - Bright Light Situations


Lesson Info

Understanding the Magic of Flash

I talked a little bit about the holes that were missing now we're going to start to fill him in we're going to quickly get this foundational stuff and show you in yeah, they were on the shooting side we're going to show you in the really world how I mean I briefly talked about the inverse square law but you didn't really see it in effect and I'm going to actually show you how it actually works and I may for a few brave souls want to come here up here and try to do it you can do it too, eh? So that will be good. Okay, so controlling one flat listen, folks, if you can't completely control one flash, good luck trying to control too it's the same thing with posing if you can't pose one person well, how you gonna pose a couple? It just looks mediocre at that point, so I really need to get this down real quick on how to control one flash and know it like the back of your hand, ok, so we're going to go through that oh, by the way, I got a free app you can in the yusa you khun text scott rober...

t to two, four, five, eight, seven and you can download this app it's a sticky album andi, you have all my contact information and everything else everything there you could also follow me on facebook at scott robert limb and also if you want to join the creative life facebook group that I have uh go to scott robert limb and creative live and we can discuss things in their tl versus manual I'm going to teach you how to use your flash and manual and why is this you've heard this before anybody used this mode here on their camera please raise your hand who is it bye everybody why do you use manual instead of the running man or the mountain or the flower why why do you do it control right that is telling you that the camera's sucks because they don't know our vision they can't figure out the exposure automatically that's why we have to pull it into manual to fine tune our light same thing with flash right you put it in manual because you don't want to compromise your vision by that's why we use manual flash because you can nail it with t t l it's close but sometimes we have to compromise our vision of it because it's close but not good enough okay that's one reason another reason why how many of you guys have studio setups like the you know backdrops any of you out there right did you go to your store and say hey give me the t t l studio set up no they don't even make anything so look it in the re award in portrait ce when you want to get serious about portrait ce, they don't even use t t l that tell you something about the reliability of t l a at this moment by manual is much more consistent, right? And to me let's say a used t l and I works a majority of the time and it's ah fifty percent of time and it will get me something and we want to go right to me it's like what I want. I want to mess around with something that doesn't work even twenty percent of the time and then had the re figure everything out or I'm compromising my vision twenty percent of the time no, I want my vision one hundred percent of the time. And so that's, why I learned to do yes manuals a little bit more difficult, but I learned to do it because my vision is paramount and I want to be able to control control control, okay? So and another is saving that's, right? And we talked about this before we could go to the price comparison let's say this camera here it has a built in wireless, of course, and to control it, you've got to spend eight hundred bucks, but if you go to a manual system, you literally can get this this this this for the same amount right on so therefore we're not made out of money and so definitely this is the better way to go if you want to take a look at my stuff there's discounts there okay this is why like a manual system too is that you can use any flash so you don't have to change completely over to a new system like if you're going to go from say cannon to sony yo man I got to sell my lenses I got to do this I got to do that and uh way don't want to do that but when you were using manual flash you can still use the flashes that you have if they're manually controlled and you can just adam to what other other flashes and use them all together so you're not wasting any money so that's why I like a manual system because you could just use literally anything and later on I'm going to show you how to use like twenty dollars flashes you confined online that even has some automatic exposure to which is kind of cool but you know it's old school ways and can teach you new folks and old school ways of what we used to do in the film days okay so flash is not controlled by shutter speed that is the number one thing that I realized that students don't get they could listen and see this darn slide for seven eight nine ten, twenty times and when we go out in the real world it still doesn't click into them shudder does not control the flash at all it's the number one miss understood concept okay it's because flash light travels at a very, very, very, very fast speed it's instantaneous so you no matter how faster shutter eight thousands of the second whatever that is slow compared to the speed of light so when lights coming into your camera right you can't get true it by lead yourself going back and forth and letting half the light in that's impossible you know this is your sensor if you're goingto if you're gonna fire your flash when that sensor is halfway up your sensor, you're not controlling half the light you're just creating that sense are exposed and that a huge old piece of a saddle on the bottom right and that's when your flash is not in sync, ok and that's why you get that? So what you have to do is make sure that you're using your flash you typically under two hundredth of a site second and you will be able to flash think that correctly, but however they're going to see global shutter come out you know global server shutter is is there going toe eventually? I think probably sony will do this first they're going to eliminate the shutter so the sensor just turns on and off, so in the future, I guarantee your maybe within a few years or maybe sooner, you're not going to even need toe worry about flash think and shooting in manual because they're just going to turn the sensor on and off, and you're not going to have to await for a slow shutter to come up and reveal they're going to get rid of that sucker, turn it off you two season, probably amazing stuff come in in the future, it may get to the point where on a sensor they'll make part of the censor s o eight hundred and the other part, I saw one hundred or whatever and do some crazy hdr stuff on it. But anyway, is that the future is going to be amazing with technology, but we just kind of have to I know what's going on, okay, uh, last thing we talked about, that one two hundredth of a second flash duration becomes your shutter speed in very, very, very, very low light. So when you're shooting and little light like this situation was here, you notice that I was shooting at one sixth of a second, that really wasn't my shutter that was stopping that action, how could I stop that? Be the water right there. If my shutter speed is would at one six what it was it was the flash how long that flash went on and off that's my shutter speed in very dark so you have to understand that concept to wrap her head about it sometimes it takes you a while to get it and then boom the light bulb goes off and goes, oh, I get it now and that's going to lease some power to you shudder controls the continuous light that's in the room or the environment the ambient light, right so the reason why I put that at one sixth of the second because it was very, very dark but I wanted those clouds up there and so the light was barely hitting those clouds. I had to open up my shutter even though it was still very dark, I had to open up my shutter to one six like grab that so I was shooting two exposures at the same time one exposure was what my flash was doing, which was lighting her up. The other exposure was my background, so I was shooting two in one. Okay, um and so how that works is let's say that there's light in the room and you put this person in a black box and allowing no light to come into it okay, now if I set up my flash and I fire my flash it lights for a fraction of a second doesn't it right? How long can I keep this center open before this is over exposed if I metered it correctly and I had the right exposure here my flash how long could I leave that shutter open before that image is over exposed if I used my flash doesn't matter could be forever right? Because what happens is see that that flash goes on and off instantaneously right so on on off see that person is still there but when you're in very dark light your flash fires if that's your shutter speed for that fraction of a second it records it in your camera. But if it's dark there's no more light that strong enoughto over exposed that flash that you did ok and so second over expose it and so you can leave that shutter on to maybe get those clouds and so forth like in this image here, right? So flash then it goes on it records it in my camera but the camera at this point does not see that person does that make sense but it's face long enough just to see that barely that little bit of light that's back there because that light back there is a lower is not as bright as the light that just shined on my subject we understand that concept and that's why I can open up my shutter speed so I can grab both of those images that's a hard one to wrap your mind around and get a hold of but you have to know that like it's nothing like oh yeah ok and use it to your I find a lot of students from crazy stupid like still don't understand this concept so you've got to really wrap your head around that okay? So that's what you can do you can get two different exposures one point three seconds handheld razor sharp hey versus one sixteenth of a second this is a different look eliminating the background I'm in control at this point I can neither control my background depending on what I want or I think goes somewhere in between as you put it in autumn motive if you put it in kind of like these automatic modes it's going to force you most likely especially if put the little nighttime icon on but you see that on your camera who nighttime is a little moon and a star there is going to try to do this for you but maybe you don't not that many want this and so now you're going to be able to control what you want in there but you captain underst dan flash and how it works okay? So look at this we're going to do this well maybe you can get me to jump up now but this is part of your final exam folks, one of you out there is going to execute this shop ok, so but this is what is it doing looking? I shot this at one sixteenth of a second I might make it harder for you I might make it you have to do like one at least one third of a second or something like that. Maybe even if you want a plus you're going to do this at one second? I'm sure if we could get the room dark enough but if you want a plus you do this at one second exposure okay, so you're gonna have to learn and understand and so can you get into this situation you see this and the theater and you want to set this up bam let's do this. We gotta do it within two minutes. Can you do it? Real world here talking is why? Because now we got a plan about you know her position how she's looking where she's looking houses jump in, do it several times over again. I can't you know twenty minutes but this lighting setup get immediately, right, ok, so that's, how you do you can stop action, right that's amazing, okay, so anyways, basics one unit of light if you want tio and another double it that is one stop woman I'm always talking about stops so stops is added is doubling or having light if I said reduce it by a stop if you're holding the flash and I said reduce it by a stop that means cutting it in half so it's usually one light that's why on these on my flashes here you notice that it's buying it's doubles right one eighth power one quarter power one half where goes the other way and so one stop is one light which is half the power and that's how you do it ok so if you were adding another stop onto this how many balls of light would you see down there for you guys are awesome all right so if I was shooting this and at four to get me equivalent exposure without changing the center of the isil what is the f stop here three point how many agree with him you got that's it right ok now you want one more stuff you're adding twice is much light but you want the equivalent exposure what we asked out there seven point one anybody agree with that leave it to the asian guy in the room to get all this right okay yeah eurasian ok ok people it is a must you must not even be able to think about this you bam bam bam bam! You've got to understand this like it just is nothing like, oh man, this is like first grade, right? It needs to be that fast because in the real world, chaos is going to break a lease, they have to wrap your head around this. So how this works is f stops usually go by these numbers here, okay? In the old days, we were looking at the lens and it had those numbers on it all the time. Maybe if you're nikon user, your lenses still have it. And so that's why we memorized it technology didn't do a favor and memorizing those numbers because now they're not evident. But how it works is they're all multipliers of one point four so if you want to get to the next stop, you multiply four times one point four and then that's how you get your next number you multiply that times one point for you, get your next number. If you want to reduce it by a stop, you divide it by one point four see how that is? Because one point four times one point four is the square root of two and that's why it is and everything is doubling for having in light. And so don't let these numbers scare you just remember it's doubling or having, and if you know that, then it's all good, ok and so this is a cheater cheat sheet on how to get you started with it and so how it works? Is this on my card let's say you want to shoot an exposure of five six at ice? So one hundred you looked on? You notice that there's no shutter speed on here! Star speed! It doesn't control flash so there's, no shutter speed on here. So you what you do is set your flash on thirty five millimeter zoom that's the standard default of all flashes is thirty five millimeter spread. Okay, so if you have a fancy flash that can zoom, make sure you set it to thirty five millimeter seat on my flashes. I don't even give you that option I eliminated because I know sometimes you could hit a button and all of a sudden you're out one hundred five millimeters and you set up your flash ago what's going on here, it's not working right? So I take that factor out of the equation and I just make it all thirty five millimeters so it's all set at that distance, okay, and so I said it at thirty five millimeters. Zoom on your flash, okay, and you line it up right one hundred s o five six what flash power does it tell you to set it at one eighth power, right. So you set it at one eighth power. He stands six or eight feet away, depending on what flash used. Now, my flashes around six feet. Okay, uh, and they all fall within that range, okay? And you hit it and boom, that will get you started. Okay, now, if you are a little bit too strong with their flash, what are some methods that you could do to reduce the flash power? You could do it by distance, right? And that is my preferred way. Because with distance, I'm not changing any of my camera exposures. Yes, I can change the light value by changing my f stop, but then my background is going to be all messed up, right? So I rather go by distance is my favorite way to control the light. So what we'll do this in the example will fine tune it. And because of the inverse square law what's, we're going to find out one foot or six inches or so could literally mean the difference of one stop in your life because half the distance is two stops the light so let's say you're six feet away. If you move in three feet, you've just gained two stops of life. So if u s o this so from here to here literally is to stop that's four times as much light, so you just have to move it back if it's too strong usually just have to move it back a little bit like that. That might be one stop right there, understand? So it's not a lot, and so it is usually minor adjustments and what I find with kind of the average photographer verse or good photographer versus the great photographer it's all in the minute details and fine tuning the final product that I find that really makes a difference. And it's understanding that fine tuning and actually being able to recognize that fine tuning is really the process that you're going to have to find. So even though it says, oh, yeah, we're learning advanced lighting techniques, right? And you might be expecting some monumental, whatever kind of drastic difference, but a lot of times when you reach a certain level, it's that minor thing that's really going to make a huge difference later on with your work, it's that small adjustment that you can recognize that's all the difference in the world. Okay, so this is how you use that flash guide, any questions on the guide at all, okay? Example so we had a user and a couple other people who also voted for this on dso maybe this is just going to give a little bit of an example for you teo teach mia how many feet do you need to walk backwards to reduce light by one stop oh yeah by one stop like I said it could be literally like a foot not not a whole heck of a lot I mean we could actually try it you want to just try and see what we're gonna be doing some damage yeah so because it depends on where you start you see if you start ten feet away and you know the inverse square law then a to stop difference is how many feet in if you're starting a ten feet away five feet okay so therefore one stop might be you know what a couple feet a foot and a half or whatever but let's say you're at three feet from your subject ok now what's one stop difference now we're talking inches because if you're at three what's three people into if you at three I hate going in one and a half feet is two stops of light difference so at that point right it might be just a little bit here now what happens if you're at one and a half feet is you put your explain sometimes I'm literally there I am one and a half feet from my subject so the difference of twos tops I'm starting to think now is eighteen inches right one and a half feet is eighteen inches so at nine inches is two stops of power so what now is one stop this much we're talking inches so that question is a great question it depends how far that sources that you're starting with will determine that range ok so but you'll get a feel of it it back again practice makes everything clear ok and so it'll become self evident once you practice it right but our tendency is we want all the answers before we even practice right but I think the other is just get out there in practice and do it and you see if you can figure it out so okay yes I had a bunch of different people hear letitia willis on a few other folks who all were asking where they can find this card now for one thing if people do purchase any time access to this course we're including this keynote that scott is working off of so that's one place to get it you have anyplace else where folks confined um yeah you um I think I showed on the next like I'm not sure uh we're going to keep going here um yes you can get an app okay so the scott robert limbs flash hero okay now there's a lot of flash heroes out there but minus the cool looking icon okay, just remember that on and one you can have this he just scroll with the distance this girl in your eyes so you put in your aperture and it tells you your flash power right there. Okay. Um o r I think you can also download that on my website scott robert uh what is it again? Scott roberts store dot com you can download it the cea peg it's available for download in there. Okay, so look it there's two types of professional flashes there's expensive and more expensive, ok, but really all you're gaining indifference is about a foot or so in the real world now they have all these stats on paper but on paper is different in the real world. So you gotta go actually test these things, but I find after thousands of students and believe me, we've used every single flash and all my workshops, ok? And I know so the difference between one flash might literally be from here and then you get a more expensive one and your stare standing here, right? Because really right, we talked about the inverse square law if you're at six feet right? And if three feet is two stops a difference really one foot is not a huge big deal, right is going to mean a lot of play within that, so um I'm really it's about, you know, just getting something that works for you. It has decent power on, but you can rely on and then using it. But you know all the brands, really, when it comes to manual power, all of them professional brands are really about the same. So it doesn't really matter what you use. My thing is you got to be able to access it quickly and fast because if it ain't easy, you're not going to do it. And if you have to explain to your assistant and take three minutes out and say here's, how you get it into manual mode, push this button. Hold this down. Turn this dial, click this. Set it in. Make sure that the whatever says that whatever resume is that thirty five that's difficult get something that's quick and easy and I'm not saying get in mind but get anything used a manual flash that's very easy to use because of it ain't easy. You got it. You're not gonna do it? Yes, but I also noticed him some flashes that you might purchase there's going to be a different color to them. So how do you decide there to me all about actually here wow, you're good. Because in general I don't notice that much of a difference you know, because we do workshops and we got a nightgown here cannon here my flash here, whatever we're firing them all at the same time and I you know, I made you know what? Maybe I just I'm not that picky on I didn't haven't noticed but I don't you might notice the difference pretending on the strength and it might be making one oh, this might be happening if you're if one is not quite a strong and it's leading more ambient light in then it might change the color of the light on that subject could that possibly be a factor? You could tell a little bit of difference okay, well versus another ok? Yeah, so I'm not too that's a good question I'm not too sure about that I haven't noticed too much of a difference, but in general I think it's it's pretty safe and you khun it is definitely a work around of that and I don't think that's going to be too much of an issue. Ok, so um let's get going here let's talk about the inverse square law and we'll finish up with a lot of this technical stuff and then we'll actually get into an example so could we could do it and really set in your mind, so this is kind of like the textbook right now and then we're going toe go through all this stuff and then we're going to do it in real life so you can see it okay, so the inverse square laws this if you're six feet away and you're firing at full power to make to create this exposure here okay, if you move it in three feet if you're at full if you move it in three feet what are you what are you what what flash powered? I said that at one quarter power to stops right full one stop is having it so that's half power and then you gotta happen again, right? And that's a quarter power wow that's a huge difference from going from full power down to just a quarter power by just moving it in three feet get your flash in as close as possible to your subject. Not only are you going to save a lot of flash power, you're going to get better higher, higher quality of life. Why is that? The source is going to be bigger getting really close to your subject? Okay, so also an interesting thing is do you see the spread? This is really why I don't use like grids or states that much is because I tend to just instead of narrowing my life see how the light kind of goes out like this so let's say I'm sure uh that's right, let's say I'm shooting shane from here with light light is starting out and it's going wider and wider wire now it's letting you up so I knew up it's giving all over the place. But if I start my life here it's gonna fire here, it's going to stop, get this area's much not going get that areas much so you can move your life closer to control that light. That beam of light. Okay, also a great thing is, if you're six feet back from yourself object let's, say your subjects here and my flash is six feet back, then it's going to travel six feet behind your subject and light up whatever's behind them. That's, great! If you want to live, what happens if you don't want it live? So I rather move my flashing three feet, and now my light travels three feet behind my subject and starts to fall off. And so now you don't see my background that's especially important if you want to what gel that background? You don't want to contaminate that color that you've created there, so understanding this and managing it and getting your life closest possible is going to help you manage when you set up one, two, three, four flashes, and you're me making that read you making that blew over there you're doing all this crazy stuff because you need to control these portion of that light so it doesn't leak out into other areas to contaminate it. That's why you have to understand this concept? Okay? All right, so, um let's do it so here's two stops a difference. So perfecting the light oh, yeah this is the essential one of the essential things is getting the right exposures easy. I gave you that chart, but when in the real world talking to students this is the one thing that they didn't understand and shame on me for not teaching you is really the positioning of the light. This is key. Okay, so the one thing is you need to use light to create shadows that's why you're using this life is to see a lot of shadows in it in the real world. So how do we create shadows number one is using a short side shot adam this is short side because the shadow is on the closest side of the face to the to the camera the short side short side shadow. So how you get short side shadow if the nose is always pointing towards the light? If you have the off camera light always point the nose towards the light and you're going to get some short side shadow now you may need to move it over a little and that's what I find with when I get all these examples great they're saying scott, you did you taught me this and I did that and I look at it and go oh that's a really great exposure but I don't really see a lot of shadow in it the details the fine details of the shot we would over move it over so I can get the exposure fairly fast but I still need like, you know, two, three shots or whatever to get that like just right I've been practicing it a lot it's really easy to get the exposure it's really hard to get the position of that light to give that doesn't this look natural? It looks natural because their shadow there so that's what you really really want to do is have that natural feel so you want to show a bit of a shadow on your subject that's the subtlety of it ok and so one get a short side shadow do that okay ram brand you know what a ram brandt lighting is? Ram brandt landing is all go through all these first and then I'll show examples rembrandt there's loop lighting there's butterfly lighting ok there's a clam shell which I like using a lot and uh knows towards the light remember that if you got the nose towards of light, you are pretty much there. You just need to find to mitt, get it right, create that natural feel to it. You need a little bit of shadow in there, and it brings out the details. One address, right? I just there's no shadow there. You're not going to see the detail in this dress here, okay? So shortsighted shadow like short side shadow, you see a little bit, it defines the face. Okay, now, if someone has an amazing makeup on all the time, then that's that's why they can go on broadside and light it up like that. But in general, most people don't have, you know, amazing makeup on all the time. So you've got to create that kind of makeup and that dimension by using that short side shadow to slim that face down or to make it have some dimension on it so they can see it. Okay, here it is again, this is a loop was short side. You see the little loop around that nose there. Okay, you want to see that? S so you can make sure that you're getting some dimension if you see a little bit of loop there, just like I'm getting on the right track that's just the indicator right these air just indicators to help you fine tune it for that right shot it doesn't mean you have to do it all the time but or exactly like how it is but it's generally an indicator for you okay to find to net like the way you want it here again is the ram brandt now ram brandt is when you've got the loop connecting to the short side shadow and you get that triangle of light in the face that's the rembrandt so if you move that light over enough where it's connecting with the short side and you get that little triangle of light there that's what you call rembrandt and here's the butterfly which I love this technique because with one light it looks very good because you get shadow on both cheeks if used that one light above and you create them it looks like a butterfly that see that shadow right under the nose you look for that in that way it will give you you see the definition on the cheeks now I also probably did the clam shell with this and had a little bit of up like two sometimes when you put the light too high you don't get a catch light so I used the light underneath to give me a catch like that so that's a butterfly so this is the essential skills right use light to create shadows right short side shadow ram brandt blue butterfly. Clamshell. We gotta master those thes by these three days, you've got to understand it. We got to know how to do it, you know, get to it. Right. And that's. Why? I said video lights easiest probably demonstrated with that. Okay, so knows towards the light. Just remember that we're gonna practice the one shot exposure and kind of howto find tune that okay? And then we're going to try, uh, let's put it at sixty. Let's, put it at three, feet. Let's put it at one a half feet and let's notice what it's doing to the background, too. Okay, and see how much of that background you see and how much you don't see. Ok? And we could even put it at twelve feet. You can see that's going to light up that whole wall back there pretty much. Ok, then we're going to try to use the video light so we can kind of understand this short side and this loop lighting the rembrandt and so forth.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Crazy Stupid Light Review
Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Keynote 3
Gear Guide
Final Exam
Going Big on a Tiny Budget - HD

Ratings and Reviews

Dan Frumkin

I read several reviews on this site which gave me hesitation to buy this course. Nonetheless, I pressed on. Now I have a suggestion for those considering parting with their cash. Before you buy, go to any of Scott’s galleries online. If you can shoot at Scott’s level move on. If you cannot see the artistry in Scott’s work, move on. If you cannot conceive of the technical proficiency Scott has with flash, move on. But if you are mortal photographer that desires to improve your work, compare your personal portfolio to Scott’s. He wins awards for good reasons. Invest the time and money. You will be amply rewarded. Real World Lighting: Advanced Techniques is worth every penny. So is Crazy, Stupid, Light. I purchased both and now use Scott’s advice and techniques daily. Plus, he provides a good dose of inspiration and humor. Scott is an awesome professional, fantastic photographer and a wonderful teacher.


I already own Lim's class, "Crazy, Stupid Light" as well as two of his Strobie 230 flashes with transmitter (in addition to my Canon speedlight). I appreciate being able to get into lighting with flashes and equipment that costs much less than Profoto lights etc. that I couldn't afford yet. Lim has a very organized and energetic teaching style. He is a great speaker in that he is excited about what he is doing and seems to love to help others learn how to be successful with their lighting. He is very animated and funny and has the right blend of being confident yet self-effacing and admits his mess-ups during class. I find him very engaging and interesting. If you have less than $500 or $600 to spend on lights, but want to start adding lighting to your photo shoots, he is a great place to start.

a Creativelive Student

This class was fantastic! I've always opted for the easy way out when it came to lighting my subjects, usually resorting to using just natural light and a reflector even though I always have my lighting kit with me. I learned in this class how creating my own light can be the easiest way to get the results I want. It's much easier than trying to make the natural light do what I want it to do. Scott's passion for photography and teaching are evident, and his commitment to the success of his students is amazing. I definitely recommend this course for photographers at any level. I came away with many ideas on how to build upon the lighting tips presented here to make it my own. Thanks Scott Robert Lim!

Student Work