michaels was recently visited by Melbourne-based generalist commercial photographer and digital photography master Ian van der Wolde, who treated our FREE Lunchtime Seminar attendees to a lesson in shooting with flash.
Ian has kindly provided tips on using Speedlites to assist michaels customers and E-Newsletter readers, who were not able to be present at the seminar.
Photo Tips – Using Speedlites
A Speedlite or flash is a wonderful tool that enables us to shoot in all kinds of environments where the available light is not sufficient to otherwise allow us to take photos. A speedlight can be a whole lot more than that. In fact multiple speedlights can achieve studio quality results if used properly. Canons new 600 EX RT Speedlite and Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT are at the very cutting edge of speedlite technology giving you complete wireless radio control of multiple speedlights from a single position.
Below I have listed a few ways to get more out of your speedlites.
Most people who use a speedlite will stick it on the hotshoe pointed straight ahead and fire away. Of course this will give you results however, the results can often be less than flattering. Direct flash is a very unnatural looking light source that flattens out the subject appearance and introduces ugly shadows.
Rotating the head of your speedlite to bounce of the ceiling or a wall will produce a much more natural looking and flattering result. There is no right or wrong here as it is subjective, however experiment a little and I am sure you will find a configuration that really works for you.
Fill In Flash
Using a single hot shoe mounted speedlite can also help improve your “daylite” shots by filling in, or opening up the shadows. The important key to remember here is to make sure you don’t over flash your subject which will again make your images look flat. A good rule of thumb is to 1. establish the correct exposure using your cameras metering system and then 2. set your flash to underexpose between 1-2 stops using the exposure compensation mode of your speedlite.
Off Camera Flash and Multiple flash
The real fun begins when we remove the speedlite from the camera and place it elsewhere to light the subject. By positioning the flash to the side of the subject it will bring out texture and detail and offer a more natural looking result. Adding in more speedlites can help to balance the light and give you total control over the highlights and shadows. Again experiment with this set up until you find a set up that you find pleasing. A good 2 speedlite set up to start with, would be to place the 1st speedlight off camera next to you at a 45 degree angle to your subject. Then position the 2nd speedlite very close to the camera, perhaps even on the hotshoe. Determine what exposure settings you want to use and set the 1st speedlite to the correct exposure, then set the 2nd speedlite, the one closest to the camera to be 1 stop under exposed. You now have a mini studio lighting set up with the 1st speedlight being the main or keylight and the 2nd unit your fill light.
Light Shapers and Gels
Once you understand the basic principles of using off camera and multiple speedlites you can start experimenting with light shapers, modifiers and coloured gels. Michaels have a great range of accessories specially designed for use with your speedlites.