tutorial: Balancing flash with available light / ambient exposure
Many of the questions I get on the Tangents blog relate to balancing flash with available light, and I want to pull it all together into a single article.
The questions often revolve around metering for the ambient light, and how to balance flash with the ambient light. Tied in with this, is how to make the decision about which camera settings are the best. It's a juggling act, balancing all the factors quickly enough ... and still being able to deliver solid photos.
The answer to the questions about how to Read more inside...
Flash photography tips - Start with the ambient exposure
An icy cold day in the Meatpacking District in Manhattan ... and a brave model that insisted on going bare feet during this Photo Shootout in New York. There were many familiar faces in today's group amongst the new. Thank you to everyone who came up to me to introduce themselves, or re-introduce themselves.
I gave some instruction on some of the basics of manual off-camera flash to the group. We worked with a Q-flash and a softbox (and sometimes without the softbox), and a bunch of Pocketwizards that I handed to anyone in Read more inside...
Going by the emails that I receive, one of the areas that many photographers struggle with is that of combining ambient exposure and flash exposure. This question is also expressed in other ways. It can be a frustrated, "where do we even start?" I also often see it expressed as an involved step-by-step deconstruction of technique, making the entire process more complex than it is.
In reply to that, and many other emails I've received in the past few months, I'd like to offer an analysis of a few images from a recent shoot.
One of my Read more inside...
Why use an on-camera flash modifier that is black, instead of white?
This question repeatedly comes up as response to the various articles here on my favorite light modifier - the black foamie thing. For anyone new to this, here are the two main articles on how I use a piece of black foam to flag my on-camera speedlight.
The question invariably comes up:
why a piece of black foam and not a white card or a piece of white foam?
The short answer: The idea behind the BFT is that it acts as a flag, not a bounce card. Read more inside...
Over the course of the past year or so, I've made a steady attempt to move this blog away from being wedding-heavy, and take the material more towards general photography, and photographing people.
However, since the most of my work is as done as a wedding photographer in New Jersey, I still get a large number of questions which relate to wedding photography - and specifically, photographing the reception. So I thought I would expand a little on the techniques I use in photographing wedding receptions.
A few years back, I would Read more inside...
Also make sure you check out this video clip where I demonstrate how I use the black foamie thing to flag the light from my on-camera flash.
In essence, the (in)famous Black Foamie Thing is just a simple little device that I use to shield my speedlight's output from directly hitting my subject when I bounce my flash forward. It has another benefit in that since I usually fasten to the 'underside' of the flash-head, it blocks light from hitting people in the face that are standing behind me or next to me. It really does help with Read more inside...
The axioms regarding flash photography that get thrown around most often, are:
ambient exposure is controlled by shutter speed,
flash exposure is controlled by aperture.
While these are true, there's also an over-simplification happening here. Just rallying those two statements in a perfunctory manner, we actually lose understanding of how flash and ambient exposures actually inter-relate.
The problem with the first statement is that it disregards that aperture and ISO both control ambient exposure as Read more inside...
A question that I was asked via email, that I thought would be of interest to everyone:
When using ambient light, I understand that you set your exposure using the camera's manual mode, then use flash to fill in. My question, when your shutter speed goes below that usually used hand-held, do you count on the speed of the flash to produce a sharp image or go to tripod or monopod? Or, increase either ISO or f-stop until you reach and acceptable shutter speed?
This is entirely correct in that I usually increase my ISO or open my aperture, Read more inside...
Having just finished the second of the two workshops here in Cork, Ireland, I feel unusually energized after the two busy days. Partly because the two workshops ran very smoothly, (courtesy of Liam Ramsell who coordinated these workshops), but also because I had two groups of genuinely nice people. On top of that, I am just enamored of the country and its people. I love it here!
But back to the photography:
The image above is of our one model, Noreen, and was taken during the practical session at a photography workshop in Cork, Ireland, Read more inside...
Shutter speed controls background exposure? Usually ...
Something I kick against when I try to teach others about flash photography, is the use of short-cut phrases. Those axioms that are supposed to help the understanding of how to mix flash with ambient light, can often mislead you since they don't give you all the information.
Two of those phrases were recently discussed here:
aperture controls flash exposure,
shutter speed controls available light.
These are merely reductions of the way that shutter speed, aperture and ISO inter-relate with available light and flash. Read more inside...