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Working with Flash

Lesson 3 of 13

Mixing Flash and Ambient Light

Pye Jirsa

Working with Flash

Pye Jirsa

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Lesson Info

3. Mixing Flash and Ambient Light

Lesson Info

Mixing Flash and Ambient Light

So we're going to get into our very first demonstration flash or strobe versus annular constantly, and by the way, you can call it whatever you want a lot. People say flashes of the smaller guys calling pakistan because it makes more sense to me, strobes, they're generally large studio pieces, but they all do the same thing, right? Ambien or constant light again, it's just a light that's present through the entire duration of your shutter so it could be whatever it is and led it could be the existing light coming through a window all the same thing one isn't better, the other there is simply different, but the things that make flash is a little bit more kind of tricky, and for the most part is that flash isn't visible to the eye, right? When you pop your flash, it goes off for a split second, so you're kind of like taking test shots and kind of guessing where the light is going unless you're flash has a built in led light, the modeling like okay, that's like studio lights generally hav...

e that, but our pocket strobes don't but it's only visible for a split second. Worst constant light is always there and that's why people love natural light because you can use reflectors and you can modify and can see what you're actually shooting but the thing is is that the light intensity of a strobe versus a constant light is dramatically different have you guys seen hollywood sets you see those giant ari ten k's five k ten k lights they bring out that's what it takes to put out enough light to overpower the sun with a constant light you have to run a giant generator you have to do all that stuff it's a massive production those air constant lights that overpower the sun the crazy thing is that a flash this big puts out that exact same amount of light okay not exact but it can overpower the sun and it fits into my hand but it just goes off for a split second so the light intensity is is kind of ridiculous of what we can get out of these little guys versus constant lights consulates are great at nighttime why balance on a strobe is generally at fifty five hundred degrees kelvin now we go into white balance and all these things in depth in the big course for this one we're gonna keep it a little simple kelvin fifty five hundred degrees of the same as daylight right you guys are not constant can vary it could be daylight it could be tungsten in the summer between fluorescent lights are like four thousand kelvin it could be anywhere okay the next thing and this is probably the most difficult thing to understand about flash is flash versus ambient light exposure it differs okay some some of the components stay the same some are gonna be different and here's what I mean this is where I want you guys like I need you guys saying amen when you when you got this part because I was I'm not moving on sheldon I'm not moving until you got this baby all right okay so ambien exposure we control that with our shutter speed with our aperture and are so right shutter speed control the duration that's going to come in after is going to control the amount of light coming in s o is going to control the digital sensitivity of your sensor so you can amplify or reduce right but on the flash side it's a little bit different when a flash goes off the aperture still controls how much light enters the camera right because the flash is it's just another light coming into the camera so if you have a wide aperture it lets mohr that light coming in if you have a close down opportunity let's less of that so that's the same on both sides at the same s o still does the same thing too because again that's digital sensitivity right you boost your eyes so you're amplifying the amount of like basically per se same thing with a flash if you boosted to two hundred so your flash becomes twice as powerful but now we have flash power where we didn't have to deal with at any time before right so now we can control our power of flash entering the frame with the actual power on the flash we also have shutter speed and this is where it differs this is the big one that people get stuck on shutter speed is on ly applicable to ambien exposure flash power is obviously only applicable to flash exposure abba turn eso apply to both so if this weren't live I would be asking questions why why is that the case? So why would shutter speed on ly control ambient light you guys see how fast I'm gonna sorry ben you've got a baby just close the eyes so I'm gonna be okay in just a moment all right? I'm just doing it just to bother him now that's kind of funny it's enjoyable to me okay so how fast is this firing pretty quick, right? So if my shutter speed is one hundredth of a second a tenth of a second one second two seconds five seconds does it change how fast this is firing? Okay, so basically as long as this fires when the shutter is open shutter speed has no effect over the amount of flash going into it because this fired in a split second and we'll just say for the sake of example let's just say that this is one ten thousandth of a second your shutter could be opened for a full second right and this just fires somewhere in there fast shutter is not gonna have any effect over how much light this added you guys going to do this that's totally fine too. I know most of you got this already and that's fantastic but the real part about this that makes flash amazing is that because we have two different ways of exposing constant versus flash we also have very creative things that we can do with this so I can keep my shutter speed at one second and I can control my flash power by dialing is up or down and it doesn't change the amount of light coming in the frame raise your hand if that makes sense okay, so I think I'm gonna demonstrate you guys because it's going to make more sense in a demonstration um let's do this let's go the next line and we're gonna talk about this and then we're gonna actually show it to you so I'm going to using dominic for for this in just one second but basically what we have here is this first image is just shot with the ambient light right it's just the natural light that's available the scene that one tenth of a second hand holding it up to eight hundred if she moves there's going to emotion right we're gonna catch that motion the second shot that five seconds again there's a handheld I've got steady hands some people call me the pipe odd just like this you just tuck it in you're good okay so the second shot five seconds after eight hundred we cut away most of the light but we're still getting a little bit of light on her the third shot we actually just remove that red light was actually a red light coming from a camera it was a tiny tiny light that was creating that so now it's pitch black in the room so I left the shutter open for five seconds and I pop the flash within that duration yes she's completely frozen okay so here is that one twenty fifth of a second here it's a five seconds there's no difference because the flash fires in that split second and it doesn't matter how long the shutters open where is on this side if we're at one thirty if they're one two hundred amusing and you can see the motion that's being captured so for using constant light we have to use the shutter speed to control motion but when we're using flash that does different things all right so let's show you let me see what our next oh the next one's going to be in practice all right dominique can I have you come over okay what we're gonna do right now guys these they're not going to portfolio pieces was going to let you know that right now sorry don't I know you like looking like dang it ok I'll have you stand right here calm down it's okay you're just being nice he's like hate that okay come forward a little bit right there so let me just show you guys real quick I'm going by the way this is like one of the things that I love doing if you guys want to just get a quick gauge of exposure who's your live you populi view up got my live you up I'm just gonna dial in and exposure here for ambient light and we're gonna go one one hundred second so and I can also dialing my white balance to was gonna change my white balance to fifty five hundred there we go do this in front of clients like it's really fun because I like all you can you spot me too and I teach how to do spot me and stuff but this is even easier than spot me ring and I always go I'm going to take one shot it's going to be best shot that you have so far and then we do it at the very beginning the shoot we only do one shot I spend time posing them and so forth and then like oh my gosh that's amazing like that was just the beginning watch this okay so darling I took a first shot just standing I'm gonna stand still you're going to stand still all right? Now don can you just do a jumping squad? Okay go a little wider as we have a little more frame there were time I think I totally moved with you so that doesn't count okay, I'm going to slow the shutters, be down now to a fiftieth again okay? And then we're gonna go down to twentieth perfect. Okay, so what we're seeing is they load up is that our shutter speed and I was moving with him on that one, which is why he looked sharp it's a way that you can actualy make someone look sharp if you match their motion but once one of a second he's all blurry right? Because the constant light that's entering the frame is is doing that so to get this I mean to get that movement sharp with with constant light we need to be like one, five hundred a second at least and even then you'll still catch a little bit of motion if you zoom into like fast moving parts like arms and fingers but let's do this I'm gonna cut away and being like completely okay? So it's still relatively bright in here but what we'll do is well dropped one hundred eyes so you know, I don't think, uh it's gonna matter too much so I'm just gonna do a direct flash I'm one of those guys, by the way that always uses manual flash just an f y I okay now dom do the same jump one more time one two three I'm going to slow this down now so we're gonna go down to one twenty of the second like how we were before let me to see what the brightness of the room miss that's good actually so we're at one twenty second okay one second we're f seven one firing a flash so this is the same as the last one right we were one twenty the second on the last one but he's frozen there so the reason that he's frozen is because the majority of light entering that frame came from the flash and the majority of all of that like that came from the flash came in a split second so the fact that the shutter speed was open or longer than whatever it didn't matter at all he's frozen okay now that's really important obviously I wouldn't do this kind of a photograph with domine see alright dude that's your picture how do you like it yeah cool give me a thousand bucks I'm just getting it giving pounded I said give me a thousand bucks or they don't give you thousand bucks that's not okay all right so let's go ahead and I want to go back to the slide I'm gonna show you guys this principle but and I'm good with you for now I'm gonna bring you back in just a second so we understand how that works right? That makes sense now but nobody would ever do that not really um what we would do though is one thing that we do all the time on the dance floor is the dance floor shut drag you know that this is like the splash zone by the way we talked about this they should have told you as you guys are all going to get wet from here to I'm told you're not gonna get but I'm gonna take your photograph so let me do this I'm gonna stick this in my pocket real quick what we're gonna do is I'm going tio dial is down to one tenth of a second okay, we're gonna use it for and then I'm going to use a flash power of probably like one eight I'm just gonna guess these things right now I always use manual flash by the way guys because not because teo is in great detail is great prom a t t l n e the automated modes that have no idea how much flatcars actually being used and that's going to come into play later on when you want to get consistent images you really need to have it constant throughout the whole time so let's just make sure our exposure's good hey look at that oh, can we put the image up on the screen? Ah yeah nailed it okay, that was at one tenth of a second at four, and I saw one hundred now, because of that one tenth of a second guess what I could do. Okay, so this is the principle in effect. Nice, solid brother. All right, so we do this, we do it close upon that, just getting just getting friends like no. Ok, so we do this on the dance floor all the time, right? And it kind of looks cool too, because I go around doing this like, yeah, keep dancing. Yeah. And I hold a camera like, uh, like, what is he doing? And then I show him the picture and they're like, what? And you're crazy. I'm like yeah, I know. So the cool thing about this is that we can create action shot by the way the other flashes didn't fires that's why this is what happens actually, yes khun see that's whats happened when a flash doesn't fire to freeze it then this is what it looks like it's on ly catching ambient light and so that's all the light that's being exposed so you need to balance it. That cool thing about it is that you can adjust your shutter speed right? We haven't talked about this yet but you can adjust your shutters but if you want the back going to be a little bit darker I could pull this upto one twentieth and if I do that same spell I'm gonna use you my dear all right let's do the same okay so now it's gonna fire quicker which means that the motion that I ad has to be faster but then the ambient light gets pulled down actually so it all gets a little darker so you can blend the two you can adjust your flash power and adjust your shutter speed to come up with the right balance depending on the scene now the great part about this is that like people when they're on the dance floor they do this they're like they're dancing like having this is how I don't know how it is it's not much better than that I'll tell you ok, so people are dance on the dance floor and then as soon as the camera comes up there like yeah that was something the camera like and you're like no like like keep dancing I can't imagine what the video guys do like video so they're using all the dslr now and the camera comes up like doing video on the guys like no no it's video and oh yeah we got it on me just like keep doing it through the so the cool thing about it is that adding the action to the frame like this actually makes for an interesting photo regardless of what the person is doing and so let's use you from his family I'm gonna have you do what people do and there's go hold hands and go like that but you're not dancing right? You're just gonna be doing that okay, there you go mouth open load that was beautiful by the way okay, so she wasn't in action yet it looks like she wass right because the motion that we're adding the frame now you can do whatever you want you want to do a zoom you khun you can fire the camera and then zoom in okay, it'll create a zoom effect you want to do this when I get like, ridiculous so that zoom right? You can actually zoom in middle of the frame um you could do this stuff on people like what is he doing? I like doing weird things with chancellor I'm just going to say that right now, but any motion that you want, it could be a wave, it could be whatever you like and it'll create a different look to the image, right? So we have straight streaks so let's go back to the slides and I'll show you guys what it looks like actually in a dance room so here all we did for the demonstration and lighting one one was the place yoko in front, these lights inside of our studio and we just did direct flash this is ambient on lee. This is what direct flash looks like with no emotion. This is bad motion. I'll talk about that in one second. So here's the shot where all I did is I popped a frame and I was whipped it to the side and in the lights that are behind her streak over. Now, the trick to this the on ly trick really to this technique is making sure that there's not a light source directly behind your heads. Okay, so what we try to do is often times doing that I call this the statue of liberty because what it does if there's dance floor lights place around there, the angle of the lights in the frame is above their heads, right? Whereas if I get down low and I'm shooting, the lights air directly behind them, so we're oftentimes we're shooting down to get that look, so we'll use this technique a lot and we'll always kind of fire are usually were at one eight power were you typically around? If you want to write down the settings will start it between one fifth toe, one tenth of a second f or one hundred ok and then yeah, between one quarter and won a flash power and when you do it pop a few shots like so always kind of zoom in I'll shoot wide I like shooting my dance for stuff why? Because it has action in it like being up close and when we do it, I'll just get a little focus and then let's do this, okay? And then everybody will have a good time. We don't need to go show this actually go back to the slides all right, so here the bryant get lifted up we do the technique here, she's just kind of like dancing the moment it doesn't matter what they're doing it's gonna look cool that all makes sense. Amen. Hallelujah! Yes, let's let's do something for you know not everybody is like spiritually let's say something like yes, more pc. Okay, so that's the full view that shot here's the full view that so you could see that. Can you guess the motion based on the light? Yeah, there's like a little like this little loop guess the motion. Every motion that you do is going backwards in camera. So if you want to draw a heart, you actually drive backwards what do you want to but you can actually draw a heart, you can do whatever you want with this

Class Description

Learn how to achieve professional results during real world shoots, working in less-than-ideal scenes, and with absolutely no time in Working with Flash with Pye Jirsa

Pye has lots of experience shooting in high pressure situations with minimal gear. In this class, he’ll teach on-camera flash bounce techniques that you can use to create 1, 2, and even 3 light setups using simple and inexpensive light modifiers. Pye will also help you add motion to your images and he’ll dive into the basics of off-camera flash so you can take advantage of the additional flexibility and creative options it affords. 

Best of all, you are going to learn lighting from the bottom up. You will see just how powerful the gear you already own can be, while learning about inexpensive stepping stones into the world of off-camera flash.



Not only is this a great class, but Pye is entertaining to watch. I'm a natural light photographer and I wanted to learn more about what a flash could do for me and my business. After watching this class I have not only learned more about flash photography but also learned that it can help boost my photos and create more beautiful photos even for my family clients. Great class I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to learn more about flash photography.


Great course, Considering that I am a professional photographer that is always searching for new ways to work and make my workflow more efficient and my work more creative, I find this class to be very helpful and interesting. I already own 3 pocket flashes and I realize that I don't exploit them as I could. It also made me realize that I was more in the «the more gear you buy» mode and not enough in the «exploit your gear and be creative» mode. So for the price, I think it is worth it !

Ali Plantz

"Working with Flash" was a great introduction for learning the basics of using a pocket flash, as well as providing opportunities to explore more advanced concepts related to light and its manipulation. I would definitely recommend this class for anyone who is wanting to familiarize themselves with the how flash can transform your photos and how its control can provide a creative avenue with artistic results.