19 December 2009

Flash Technique

The last evening of the photo course will be dedicated to flash photography. Since there is a lot to read and watch about this topic, I decide to share with you in advance what I have learned.

In the beginning I started with on-camera flash with analog photography (film). The flash is directed straight at the subject. You had to know how far your flash was from the subject. By dividing the guide number (GN) with the distance (in meters) to your subject you ended up with the right aperture value. My photos looked boring with lots of shadows. This was not satisfactory.
Later on I used a Braun 370 BVC flash which contained an onboard flash computer. This gave better results, but flash photography remained a mystery to me.
braun 370bvc front_LR
braun 370bvc back_LR

Fast forward to the digital age with Canon equipment (sorry Nikon users). All the math is not necessary anymore because the camera calculates the right amount of flash output. But still, the flash pictures were not entirely satisfactory.

Thanks to the Internet I have learned a lot from the following people.

Planet Neil
Neil Cowley is a wedding photographer which uses flash light in his photos, without you noticing it. He has been so kind to write an entire tutorial. I liked his articles so much, I even bought and read his book. These articles are a must read to understand flash photography and how to avoid the classic flash picture with shadows and the 'deer in the headlights' look. He taught me to take a photo like this:

Of course your basic metering skills have to be OK. Neil has a tutorial for this.

David Hobby takes flash photography to the next level. His Lighting 101 discusses the more technical side of lighting. His proposal is to use small camera flashes (strobes) on light stands instead of the big rigs with lights umbrellas, stands and more. No computer aided exposure, but manual exposure to get more predictable results. I learned from David how to work with colour temperature of daylight, tungsten and flash light. I have not started yet to work with multiple strobes.

Flash photography with Canon EOS Cameras
This is a must read for Canon users who want to know more about the technical side of Canon flash photography. It gives you insight on how the system behaves.

Some other links
Here are some more interesting links explaining the Canon EOS flash system

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