Skip to main content

Reception and Event Lighting: Auto Flash

Lesson 21 from: Real World Lighting: Advanced Techniques

Scott Robert Lim

Reception and Event Lighting: Auto Flash

Lesson 21 from: Real World Lighting: Advanced Techniques

Scott Robert Lim

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

21. Reception and Event Lighting: Auto Flash


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

Reception and Event Lighting: Auto Flash

Auto flash and event photographer lighting okay um so I am going to talk a little bit about fun facts about an auto flash what in the world is an auto flash and why would I want to buy something that's thirty years old twenty years old what could this do for me? Okay, so it's called auto thirst er it means automatic exposure so it will calculate light and figure out an exposure for you. Okay, that sounds interesting already, right? Okay, it was before t t l which means through the lands before that technology everybody used auto okay for for flash okay? And it was very common this is what people use this auto okay, light is controlled by not the camera but light is actually controlled by a light sensor on the flash. Ok, so ana auto flash there is a sensor there and see this little thing don't cover it because this is the thing that is reading your light and figuring out the light for you. Okay? An auto flash will work on any camera and it's not brand specific, which means if you own a ...

canon camera and you find a good auto flash the on e bay it could even be a cannon it still can work for you or if you doing using it as an off trigger off camera lighting it doesn't matter if you find the auto flash that is you know, for minolta our cannon or nikon it doesn't matter it's not brand specific because you're using the light sensor on the flash to control the light and that light sensor is the same on all those flashes and all you need for it to do is go off and on all flashes if you want just the flash to go off, they use what they call a center pin so if you look at the bottom of your flash, the flashes now have like I don't know six pins on their one to do everything wanted to your laundry too, but in the old days they had less right and that's what triggers the sinner pin? So if your camera has a center pin or for your triggering system has a center pin that's all you need to know you don't care about all those other pins and so all the flashes had a set of me and so like I have this other auto flash which is actually on my camera and this one on lee has a center pin we're not where we're looking, right, right? You see that this is only have a center pin because it needs to just know should I go on or should I go off that's it uh because that little sensors going to control all the light with it okay? Many auto flashes are powerful and just like lenses things made twenty or thirty years ago are actually better built okay sometimes the plastic is a lot more durable the way it was manufactured there was just built better so some of these flashes are still working strong today and some people still using like the old timers even after thirty years they're still doing great and they're justice powerful that's the flashes nowadays some auto flashes khun use in a c adapter how do you like that? Do they make flashes down with an a c adapter? No, but actually you can get some of these auto so what supporters on what was you could plug it in what's the big deal about that why would that be important? Plugging it in barry's right? Andrew andrew says batteries so you don't have to use them you just plug it into the wall let's say you're doing a photo booth okay, right? You don't have to bring your big lighting thing or whatever you just buy this twenty dollars auto flash or flash you could put the flash and manual actually to a lot of the autos have manual solicited by this flash that you can plug it into the wall right? It could just run all night you don't have to worry about batteries with it ok let's say you're doing a small time studio on a super super super super super super ghetto budget you could buy these twenty thirty dollars flashes and just used them as your studio lights and just plug him in the wall that's what a lot of people did that's why? There was an athe outlet because actually people used to do that in the old days is usually splashes as ex studio flashes okay all and how ok so all you got to do is set the I s o and set the f stop and the flash calculates the light so it's not completely automatic but you have to give it some sort of parameter used tell it okay? You know shutter speed is not involved with here. Why? Because shutter speed does not control your flash okay, so you set your eyes so it's just like my card it has eyes so one f stop on it so you set your eyes so you set your f stop and it will automatically figure out your life within a certain range of that power of that flash. Okay, auto flashes could be bought for fifteen bucks or more maybe even some for less. You go to yard sale don't even know what it is they give you five bucks for it just bio, right um, which is great great on camera flash so you could put it on your camera and if you wanted to use it as a t t l substitute let's say you're using an event and you just need snapshots of people and you don't want to calculate lighter whatever you stick it on there and it'll automatically figure out the light for you ok and let's say you're tt let's say using a detail flash and oh man it brakes or something right? Well you got a not a flash fifteen bucks put it on it'll work will still work for you if you want that automatic exposure for you it's really good for just one flash right now when you got well okay when you start to put another flash shining light into that sensor is going get confused at that point just like tl when you're firing flash right into the lens it gets confused because whatever is reading it is if you shine light into whatever's reading and calculating that light is going to get confused but if you're just putting it on camera flash and you just do an event you shooting group shots or whatever that's fine right that you can use it for that great for using flash with older film cameras now some film cameras they don't even have flashes for they don't even make it so you're stuck with using with available light all the time or or constant light the now with an auto flash and you have an old film camera you could do off camera flash with it which is pretty cool and it will automatically figure out your life without using unite meter which is pretty cool okay how to use an auto flash this is a son I like the sun pac flashes son packed flashes because um they have auto and they have manual on it too okay so this is a sun pac clash and how you use an auto flash is you set your eyes so at the top this is set to four hundred then you turn this dial to certain the f stop which is right there it's a switch that goes up and down so for every for every eyes so it may give you three f stop choices in a in a range two or three depending on the flash okay and so you just turn that dial up and down you say ok I want to shoot it f four here but you might turn the dial up and then it might be f eight if you turn it up one more might be f eleven I don't know but they usually give you three choices per whatever I so you set that at ok so it's not like you khun dia linn dial in the exact f stop you kind of have to go within that range but if you're just shooting event photography or whatever just using it for extra flash that's fine you can figure something out that you can use then after that it also has something which on auto okay light remember back in the days shooting film you take a picture can you look at the back of the camera? So what? So you need something to tell you that that flash fired and that that flash gave you the right exposure that's why they had to put this auto okay light on it. So what you do is you set it up right? And let's say you take a picture of it or you hit the test button then you see the light afterwards light up and tell you it's okay it worked don't work take another shot. It had to give you a visual signal to tell you that that flashes working or it's going to blow a whole roll of film and the exposure is going to be off. So that was their way of telling you it's okay, so you could hit the test button and then look at that and see if everything is working fine, okay? Or you might shoot it and it's something might be out of range or something like that and they go it's not okay, you need enough? You don't have enough power here or something like that I don't know, but anyway that's the on okay, so here's the flash here's a sent this flashes a some pack for twenty two I think jim, just someone online just search right now I think you saw over fifteen bucks or something on ebay I'm sure he thought it was a minolta mount and I go do you ask me it doesn't matter of it's a model that don't matter right? Is this you're just using the center pin right and that's it okay and that is the sensor right there do not block that sensor it's going to throw everything off with it. Okay, so make sure that sees your subject now automatically you can see the limitations of manado flash, right? What happens if you put an umbrella over an auto flash? Don't work why do you think these air don't exist anymore? Right is because when you cover that sensor doesn't work now some of the old video tartars they usedto have that sensor where you could pull it out and put it on a cord. So if you're putting a soft box on it, you could still read the light right? But I don't know who does that anymore, but that's the one thing that there's some disadvantages with it so don't cover that up but you can defuse this you can flip this flash up to hit the ceiling and come back down it will still measure the light for you because why light travels at one hundred eighty six thousand miles per sec and it's very very fast so he can make that reading all within a fraction of a second still before your your your shutter closes it's that fast like that so you can still do some bouncing with it and still kind of get that soft light and you'll still figure that out you don't have to have it directly on your subject okay all right so let's do it you ready let's try and see if it works or not ok so let's put it on a basic camera and do it so I ok this is the one that's kind of cool for fifteen bucks let's define getto work sometimes this door is tricky as another thing you gotta buy a couple of them because sometimes that they're old sometimes some are finicky okay so this when I got a mess with the door to make the light go on okay so I am setting this flash here two I s o four hundred okay f stop is four ok so she gave me a proper exposure at I s o four hundred s stop for okay so what I'll do is actually can you I wonder if we can test this out I'm gonna I'm gonna um you know I'm going to hit this test button and if you can see that ok green light go on saying you know it has to be in a certain range I'm not sure how close it's but when I'm covering the sensor to so I'm going to try to do this like and seek you what's that well I think I got to be still so they could get it on camera did you see the green like a lot okay then it worked it figured out the light for you right now you get some of these things and when you get that and then you shit it is and some of them they're stuck on full power a lot so you got to kind of mess with it and see because some people just try to sell these things and they don't test it they just sell it and then but they could be off and a lot of times it just stuck on full power all the time then you got to go hey baby dude, this don't work he said it would give me my money back a lot of times they won't make you ship it back just give your money back that's where they get to do with the twenty dollars flash so they just refunded to you ok, so let's do that let's get it on my camera okay? And I am going to take a picture of you guys how's that so I got my eyes so to four hundred and I'm going to set my f stop two four oh no that's one fourth that's wrong I'm going to set it to I'm gonna let a little ambient light in I said to fiftieth of a second and I'm going to sit my deaf steptoe four why is it not changing? Oh, I'm sorry this camera okay, I gotta go wide then because it won't okay now I could do it ok, so I'm going to do this right now fire this flag okay and we'll see what's going on did they need time to figure out the tether of singing on the screen what's that it's good right? So hey right it's not that bad it's a little bit bright maybe because it's meeting you guys are wearing a lot of dark now let's say want to kind of find tune that let's say it's automatically just a little bit bright all the time let me take another picture and see maybe is it just because it or is it the situation that's throwing it off or is it just naturally bright all the time this one looks a little bit there this reminds me of tl it's like I get you clothes sometimes it's a little bit off but it's close enough okay that's a little bit better, right? Maybe because I focused on his skin that time and not his dark area and that's why it gives that difference of exposure right? Does this remind you of tl hey, ed, tell you. Reminds you d d l what happens, right? And so hey, that's. Cool. Now, let's, try something a little bit diff different. You want to come up here and let's see if this is strong enough where I can just create more of a soft light instead of direct, I'm gonna fire the flash up and then maybe hopefully it's going to give me enough light to come down and and give us some light. When I zoom in like this, it's going to be at four point five instead of four because I don't have a constant aperture on this lens, so it might be a tad under exposed but let's, check it out and it looks like it works. Okay, so what you could do, though the problem with that is wow, dot that for fifteen dollars a guy. So it goes up and it's coming down, but a lot of times when you do that, don't you need a little bit of front light. So what you can actually do is do I have it here through all the mess in the torm? Uh, I had these cards here. Ok. Well, you don't have a card, guess what, you got my hand. Right. Okay, so you need a little fun to have something like give me that so what you could do is, like, take a business card or something like that you could tape it here, right? And and you can get a little bit of front that you see people that they'll take a velcro or they'll take a rubber band and put a little white card here and that's kind of like what I like to do and I'm doing event all I could get that light up haven't come down but I need a little bit catch light in there so you could do that anyway so let's let's try this again yeah check you out posing for us okay? And so now this is going to give you a little bit more front light to that uh and see that just that this is big I just usually use a thank you very much a business card. Oh, sorry to do that. So I go up and I give you just a little bit of both but what I really like now I like you know why I like this slash it's small because nowadays when you smaller cameras I don't like a big old honkin flash on my super small camera I like this this flash because it's very small it's called the sun pac auto one forty four okay, these are the ones that you can find for five. Ten bucks. Fifteen bucks? Not not anymore. Probably thirty bucks now good luck trying to find one the base looking for him right now. Okay, but what's great about this one and is different from the right. It even looks like it has a p c synch here. So you could I think it with pc. Okay, what's cool about this one. And why I like this one is that usually when you buy a small flash like this it's going to be powered by two triple a batteries, which is for event photography that's not a lot of juice to triple a batteries, but this one actually uses for double a's. Okay, so you could use this probably all night and an event it's a small flash, but it's got four double a's in it, and so it has got a lot of boom to it. Okay, so now what I like doing so one small trick it worse? I had those things I don't know where the heck they are. Maybe they're my bag. Okay, now my favorite auto flash is the sun pac siri's, which is the four thirty three okay or the cadillac of the sun tack is the three eighty three but they're the most expensive once because everybody knows that one so that one maybe is around you know you can find that one close to a hundred bucks when people are buying it for but these other ones like the four thirty three and the four twenty two they're almost his power they're pretty good there they're just about the same power but nobody knows about these and these air laci's cooper okay, but it has basically exact it is the exact same functions on this and the reason why I like now some people use anybody familiar with the vivid tar to eighty five's and the two eighty three's that everybody used to use. Now the problem with those visitar pack of flashes on the head the head wouldn't turn this way too. It would only go up and down on the guitars right but I like my flash to go like this and there's a reason for it so when I put my auto flash on here okay, so this auto flash is set to f four at four hundred which is the same thing. Okay, so the reason why I like this and I put a little card here and I should have oh, thank you. I thought I had one here anybody have oh oh here they are but here's a rubber band ok, so let's do this let's put this or you could put velcro here but let's just go on the cheap I just want to show this is an example ok hold this I'm not even sure if it's gonna hold it that well but let me try to do this if I put a piece of velcro on here you would see the old timers do this stuff all the time right they do this funky kind of reflector stuff with cards and whatever that's what the old timers did in the day okay so I like this set up this is my favorite set up from doing just basic you know you're at the wedding at the reception and anti the anti and the uncle want a picture together I was like ok let's do this right so I'm at four at what you shame what you come up here and take a picture of you so I like this because I can shoot this way and I can get a little front flash so let's try it I want to get now let's say I want to go portrait and shoot but I could turn the flash like this and I still get front flash because if I was doing it this way right and if I had the card up like that right if I go sideways like that it's not getting front flash directly on him right? But if I turn it sideways like this right and then I do portrait and turn it this way then I get still a little bit of front flash that way too okay so that's why for me for event photography I like this particular set up um and this works best for me and I don't like to be super and I just like little city is pretty cool you look like a freakin can you feel a little happier I got I got the last segment that creative line I am tired thanks buddy okay uh I just you know this is light and it's and it's small and a lot of times I'll just do this but I'll put a piece of velcro on here to do that okay, I got it and so it's you know you could do it over band but I don't okay um now let's try and be exciting let's do off camera flash with the auto and see how it performs. Okay, so yeah sure before you move on to the off camera flash we did have a couple questions from folks in the chat room who had concerns about hitler flashes potentially burning out yeah, modern flashes you want talk briefly about that that's why I don't use vivid tarr's because vivid tars there's some of these flashes from visitar they were the number one flash in the world everybody every professional use thes visitar flashes there were literally millions of them and no one will outsell the I don't care going further in history like because cannon using his nikon users, minolta users, we'd all used the the avatar flash so it's outsold everybody, but the problem was they were selling so many of these fashions, they were producing them at different times of the different times and different places in the country. And what happens some of them would have the voltage would be so high that if you put it on a modern camera, my blow it out. So I got a lot of this you could go online there's these these, like these divot are like junkies like these vivid tar fanatics, right? They have everything on him to tell you how to milner measure the voltage to see if it's like you know what? But I just don't mess, but I just don't buy the guitar because I don't want to now they have new ones. If you get the vivid tart to eighty five h the standing for high voltage, right, then that's the safe when they thiss flash became so popular that thirty years later, they remade it because the strobe ist at that time didn't have a lot of manual flashes. Now the whole market is filled with tons of manual flashes, including mine there to write, but before they didn't, so they were clamoring, we need to see the basic manual fashion they and so anyway somebody bought the vivid tar name and read in the mold and remade it again and that works for digital cameras that's that to eighty five h v but I just I don't like that because of the this situation here and a lot of times on the vivid tar to eighty five when you put it in manual it doesn't have a eighth power it just goes full one half quarter and one sixteenth power and it doesn't have the eighth in there ok and so and it's a little bit bigger and it doesn't have this and I'm worried about the voltage thing or whatever and I just so I said stick with the son pax do your research if you're going to use something like this check to make sure but yeah it's it's it's a possibility but if you're scared of it take it off camera let's take that so you're totally scared of it right just taking off camera don't worry about every every cent pack class that I had right was was fine I never had an issue with it but let's take it off camera then you don't have to worry about it at all so when I was using vivid tar flashes I was using strictly for off camera flash on lee okay visitar makes this flash called the to eighty three and it comes standard with the auto theorist er but it doesn't have any manual control on ly if you buy the module for it. Okay, there was this other module that mister, you could take out the auto theorist er and put the manual on. I mean, those were at the time there they were only like ten or fifteen bucks in retail stores. Guess what, how much they are now for fifty bucks. They're fifty bucks just for that because it went all way down to sixty fourth power on that one. And the vivid tar. If you ever had a put a visitar to eighty three in your hand, that thing is built like a freakin rock. It will probably last beyond our third nuclear war, right? That thing is going to be there forever, right? So and you can plug it. I think you can plug that one into the wall to but because you have to find that module form in their fifty bucks like, well, why I just by emmanuel, flash and it's not worth it at that point, but ok. So anyways, let's, take it off camera and let's. Set it up.

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