Master Your Flash

Master Your Flash in Croton-on-Hudson, New York

What's the key camera accessory? A flash, of course. And taking full advantage of your flash is the key to making good flash people pictures.

My next Master Your Flash one-day workshop will be on June 10, 2012 from 9 to 6 PM.

© Rick Sammon
Where: Croton-on-Hudson, NY (one hour north of NYC).
When: June 10, 2012
Times: 9 AM to 6 PM
Cost: $250 (includes model fee)
Group: Limited to 10

We'll try to cover:
• Working with models
• Indoor and outdoor flash photography. (Outdoors only weather permitting)
• Daylight fill-in flash.
• Using gels and grids.
• Backgrounds
• Creative lighting with your flash on camera. Yes, that is possible!
• Taking the darn flash off the camera for even more creative lighting.
• Using reflectors and diffusers for flash photography.
• Using soft boxes.
• Using wireless transmitters.
• Portrait and environmental portraits.
• Processing your best pictures and group slide show.

We'll have lighting gear but you can bring some of your own.

Definitely bring your Canon Speedlite.

I have Canon Pocket Wizards. If you have another brand of camera/speedlite, you must know how to fire the flash remotely. I'll show you the techniques, but it's up to you to know your camera and speedlite.

You also need to know how to shoot on Manual Exposure.

Included with the workshop is an autographed copy of my book, Exploring the Light.

Shoot me an email for info. Space is limited - but the speedlite fun will be unlimited.

Explore the light,

P.S. If you can't make the workshop, check out my Light It! app and 24/7 Photo Buffet app. Click here.

Orb or Softbox? That is a question for speedlite shooters

Soft boxes offer directional light. © Rick Sammon
I'm taking the weekend off from posting. Just finished five days of Alaska photos.

This was my most popular posts, so I'm re-posting it for those speedlite shooters who might have missed it.

On my Master Your Flash Workshops, I illustrate - among several other lighting techniques - the difference between portraits taken with softboxes and orbs. We place a speedlite in each flash accessories and get to work – and start to have fun.

Catherine Hall. © Rick Sammon
Basically, softboxes with recessed diffusion panels offer more directional light than orbs. The two illustrations above illustrate directional light from a softbox.

© Jason Ludwig
Above is a picture of me (taken in Dave Cross' studio) using a 28-inch Westcott Apollo softbox to light the subject from above, which was the same technique I used when I photographed Catherine Hall at the Google studio. Speaking of me: You can hire me as a voice activated light stand :-)

Artist Eddi Flemming. © Rick Sammon
Orbs with recessed diffusion panels produce a wider and softer beam of light than softboxes. They are nice to use when you want to light a wider area with softer shadows. I used my Westcott Orb for the photograph above. Orbs also wrap the light around a subject for softer light.

Umbrellas? I don't use them too often, but they are nice for large groups.

For more lighting tips, see my apps.

Explore the light,

Mastering Daylight Fill-in Flash in Costa Rica

Today we talked about mastering your flash - for flower photography, which is basically the same as mastering your flash for people photography.

Here is the basic concept for daylight fill-in flash:
• Put your camera on Manual exposure. Don't use a shutter speed higher than 1/200th sec.
• Set the exposure for the background.
• Turn on your flash.
• Set the flash to TTL.
• Adjust the flash output to properly illuminate the subject.

Sure, you might get a decent flash exposure if you set your camera on the Av mode and flash on TTL. With this technique, however, you can control the background light independently from the light from your flash.

I will go into more detail on this technique in a future post. Gotta get back to shooting.

This is just one of the techniques I teach on my Master Your Flash workshop in Croton on Hudson, NY.

Explore the light,

Master Your Flash: Shadows Can Be Your Friend

This post was updated on 8/14. Reader Dwight Atterhold made a good comment re the Canon ST-E2 wireless transmitter. Thank you Dwight.

Here are some thoughts on shadows:

Shadows can be your friend.

Shadows are the soul of the photograph.

Shadows add a sense of depth and dimension to a photograph.

Here are some thoughts on lighting:

The larger the light, the softer the light.

The closer the light, the softer the light.

• • • • •

Above is a shot I took today at my Plymouth, MA workshop. Below is a picture of the super simple lighting set-up. In the photo below, the light is place on on the right. For my opening photo for this post, the both lights were placed on the left.

The workshop was organized by Amy Davies, who heads up the Plymouth Photography Club.

Before going on, a big thanks to Casey Baird, the director of the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Plymouth, for letting us use her studio - and for helped us out as a great model! The good looking dude is Forrest. Thank you, too!

Gear: Canon 580 EX II placed in a Westcott Apollo softbox fired by my Canon ST-E2 wireless transmitter which was mounted in the hot-shoe of my Canon 5D Mark II. The flash in the softbox was set at full power and on E-TTL.

About the ST-E2: Technically, line-of-sight is required for the Canon ST-E2 to fire Canon Speedlites – because the ST-E2 is an IR transmitter. However, I have found that when working in small rooms with white, bright or glass walls, or rooms with mirrors (this dance studio), the ST-E2 fires Speedlites "hidden" in softboxes all the time. In larger rooms, such as when I was teaching at Photoshop World, the flash sometimes fired. If you want to be 100 percent sure that a Speedlite in a softbox will fire in any size room, use one of the two following devices:

Pocket Wizard
Pocket Wizard FlexTT5 Transceiver For Canon TTL Flashes and Digital SLR Cameras
PocketWizard MiniTT1 Radio Transmitter for Canon TTL Flashes and Digital SLR Cameras

Radio Popper
RadioPopper PX Transmitter Unit
RadioPopper PX Receiver with Antenna and Canon Mounting Bracket

Power Settings
The flash held my the "voice activated light stand," my wife, Susan, was set at 1/3 power.  That 580 EX II was fired through some plastic palm leaves to add some shadows to the stone wall. A blue gel was placed over that flash to add some color to the wall.

Nik Software's Midnight filter in Color Efex Pro was added to add some drama to the scene.

All my camera gear is listed on my gear page.

Here is a link to the Westcott Apollo soft box:
Westcott 2331 28-Inch Apollo Flash Kit

For a discount on Nik software, click here.

If you want to master your flash, check out my Master Your Flash workshops in Croton on Hudson, NY.

Below: I just added this behind-the-scenes shot that shows the position of the softbox for the opening shot in this post. Yes, we moved the softbox around the studio for many different lighting setups. 

Explore the light,

P.S. I also teach flash photography on all my workshops. Private lessons are available, too. And if you have an iPad, my Rick Sammon's 24/7 Photo Buffet and Light It! apps have lots of lighting info. Click here for info.

Quick Digital Imaging Tip 27/101: Take The Darn Flash Off the Camera

This is tip #27 of 101 digital imaging tips I plan to post here over the next few months. Stay tuned.

Today's tip: Take the darn flash off the camera!

Once you take the flash out of the hot shot and fire it remotely, a whole new world of creative lighting possibilities away you – because you can place the flash at an angle, and more easily control shadows. You can also use a light modifier (soft box, umbrella, flash diffuser, diffuser etc.) to soften the light.

Here are two shots at I took yesterday at the ExpoImaging booth at the Photo Plus Expo in NYC.

Model: Rebecca Leigh West.

Left photograph: Canon 580EX II (full power) with Rogue FlashBender to camera left.

Right photograph:
Canon 580EX II with Rogue FlashBender to camera left, plus another Canon 580EX II (– 2/3 power) with Rogue FlashBender to camera right.

For more lighting tips, see my lighting book and apps.

Explore the light,