Flash is a simple yet powerful tool that can help elevate your photography to the next level. Using a flash gives you more control over how to shape your light and lets you deliver consistent results. However, there’s something about using flash that a lot of beginner photographers are scared about. That fear is misplaced: once you get a hold of some of the basic concepts, working with flash is a breeze. In this video, photographer Mike Smith shows you the basics of flash photography and how it’s actually a straightforward process:
Compatible camera and flash systems can work in auto mode, which is referred to as “Through The Lens” (TTL) mode. In this mode, the two systems work together to give a setting that they think exposes the subject correctly. However, Smith chooses to work in manual mode, which is great. Getting started in manual mode is a fantastic way to get a hands-on knowledge of how a flash works. We highly recommend you get your hands dirty with manual mode.
Smith then covers a lot of topics that a beginner may have when getting started with flash photography, including sync speed, flash power and flash duration. Understanding sync speed is essential to know how fast you can go with your shutter speed when working with flash; fail to understand this and you will end up with black bands that will make your results unusable. Then there’s flash power, which controls the light output of the flash, and flash duration, which is the length of time the flash emits light. These two factors play a very important role in determining the brightness of the image and how sharp moving subjects appear.
Working with flash also means considering how much ambient light you want affecting your image. And this means playing around with the aperture, shutter speed and ISO. These basic tenets are critical to working with flash.
“No matter how long or short the shutter speed is, as long as you’re below the sync speed, it’ll take in all of the power of the flash. So it doesn’t matter what shutter speed you’re at, the flash power will be exactly the same.”
At first, working with even one flash can feel daunting. But once you get comfortable, you can take it one step further and start working with multiple flashes to really craft the light as per your requirement.
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