A Speedlight Primer for Photographers

You don’t need a huge studio lighting setup to get professional results. Joseph W. Carey proves that all you need is a speed light to get started with flash. Watch his in-depth presentation to see how you can shoot big with a small flash:

Carey considers himself to be an available light shooter, and he explains why that’s important in the video. Using speed lights is way easier for him because they are small and portable, and they’re able to sync with the camera at practically any speed—unlike studio flashes that are controlled mainly by your aperture (and of course their power settings). He breaks the process of using a speed light down into three steps:

speed light basics

High Speed Sync

With a speed light, the idea is that the flash power controls the flash. You’re no longer limited to 1/200 of a second and using the aperture to compensate for the rest of the light. With high speed sync, you use the ISO to mediate and everything else is up to your creative preference.

bar shot

Creative Use of Speed Lights

During his presentation, Carey gives at least a dozen examples of creative ways the flash can be used. With the right settings, a flash can create dusk-like photos at high noon or a low key shot in a bar without even using the ambient light.

speed light primer

how to use a speedlite

Off-Camera Flash

Carey emphasizes the importance of getting the flash off your camera. Using a simple hot shoe extension cord and hand holding the flash a bit to the left or to the right can make a great difference.

use speedlight off of camera

why use off camera flash

The possibilities are endless. With some experimentation and a decent understanding of light, there are no boundaries to what you can do.

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