using the guide number of your flash to determine flash exposure

GN  =  distance  *  f-stop

Your flash’s Guide Number (GN) is determined at 100 ISO, when it gives correct exposure at a certain distance, multiplied by the f-stop

The idea that we can figure out the manual flash exposure by the combination of distance and aperture (for a given ISO setting), was covered in these recent topics:

– getting the most power out of your flash / speedlite / speedlight
– practical tutorial: controls for manual flash exposure

In these articles, we relied on the display on the back of the speedlight to show us the distance we need to hold the flash from our subject. A flashmeter / lightmeter would’ve given us a similar answer. (There might be a discrepancy, since the manufacturers tend to be a little bit optimistic about what the flashgun is capable of.)

Now, the question is, what do we do if our speedlights don’t show the distance / aperture relationship on its display, or if we don’t have a lightmeter on hand?

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getting the most power from your flash / speedlite / speedlight

This might be obvious, but the most power (or light) that you’re going to get from your flash, is at full output in manual. Then the flash dumps everything it has. Full power. You could of course zoom your flash-head a little tighter and get more power / range, but essentially, you’re at the limit.

This is useful to know when you’re balancing flash with bright sunlight. With this portrait of Shawna, out on the Las Vegas strip, I wanted that sun-flare look … but I also wanted to balance the super-bright background with flash.

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bounce flash portrait – a consistent technique

WPPI 2012 took place during the past week – as always, a crazy-hectic and exciting event. I once again presented a Master Class at WPPI. But I also took time to present a private mini-workshop to the first 3 people that signed up. We went over a condensed version of my full-day workshop, covering most of the material in the 4-hr long mini-workshop. Like last year, I called on my favorite model in Las Vegas, Shawna. Actually, she has since moved to L.A. but she was quite happy to make the trip back to Las Vegas to be our model.

The start of the practical part of the flash photography workshop is always on-camera bounce flash. For this article, I thought I’d use some of the demo photos, to show that there is a consistent technique here.  A consistent approach that guarantees at least a successful basic portrait with nice light and a pleasant background.

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photo sessions  – Shawna – using a variety of photographic lighting options

Shawna is the delightful model I used while I was in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. She helped us out during the mini-workshops I offered, as well as some photos of my own.  I’ve posted a few photos from these already, but thought it might be interesting to show a further selection of images and discuss them …

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photo session – Shawna – using the PocketWizard AC3 Zone Controller

While in Las Vegas for WPPI 2011, the team at PocketWizard asked me if I would be interested in them shooting a short video clip of me using the new PocketWizards for Nikon. I didn’t hesitate in saying yes!  Here is the description of the setup of the one photo sessions I did. There was another one, which I will post in a day or so. I will post a link to the PocketWizard video clip as soon as it is up.

For this demonstration of the PocketWizard FlexTT5 and AC3 ZoneController, I relied on Shawna, a favorite model, Shawna, again. (She featured in the recent posts on video light vs bounce flash and using the available light. I knew we’d be able to get some stunning images with such a stunning model and the new photo toys …

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video light vs bounce flash

February 23, 2011

video light vs bounce flash

It’s easy enough getting nice clean open light with a single on-camera speedlight when shooting indoors. By bouncing your flash with the idea of getting directional light from your flash, you can effortlessly get portraits like this. As usual, I used the black foamie thing to flag my flash and get more light on the one side of my subject’s face. In this case, more subtly so than some other examples on this site.

We were working in the same location here as shown in the previous article where I photographed Shawna using only the available light that was found. However, for certain photographs I had in mind, it quickly became obvious that a more contained light source than bounce flash would work better. When compared to a light source like a video light, bounce flash tends to flood an indoor location with light, even if directional when you look at your subject. A hand-held video light gave me the type of lighting I wanted …

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photography: direction and quality of light

This striking photo of Shawna illustrates something that I want to underline: at some level, our consideration of the light that we’re using remains the same, whether we’re using available light, or flash, or video light or some other continuous light source.

We need to consider the direction and quality of the light we have or are creating. We then either need to adapt our lighting, or adapt our way of shooting our subject, to complement our subject.  So let’s look closer at the light / lighting used for this photo …

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