camera flash

Master Your Flash Workshop Roundup

Photograph by Rick Sammon
Yesterday, I ran my October Master Your Flash workshop here in Croton-on-Hudson, NY. The group, 10 dedicated and talented students, had a ton of flash fun - and flash learning, of course.

BTW: Having a small group gives everyone the opportunity to shoot - and walk away with cool photographs. That's why I limit the size of these groups.

Photo by Susan Sammon
FYI: To add a beautiful glow to our model's face, I used the Glamour Glow filter in Nik Color Efex Pro. You can get a 15 percent discount on all Nik software by using this code upon checkout: RSAMMON.

Shoot me an email to get on my Master Your Flash/Canon Speedlite Photo Sessions.

Photograph by Susan Sammon
Our main lighting sources were Westcott 28-inch Apollo Speedlite Kits, which produced beautiful and soft lighting.

We triggered our Canon 580 EX II speedlites with Pocket Wizards.

It was cool that we were able to transform a small room, originaly designed as office space, into a cool photo studio, using a few accessories, including a cool hand-painted background from Westcott.

Photograph by Rick Sammon
The  students were introduced to my latest speedlite lighting accessory - the Rick Sammon Light Controller (used above). I can't show it to you here, but I will be using it on my creativeLive class in two week. :-) :-)

You'll see the reason for the happy faces during the class.

Photograph by Rick Sammon
The students really enjoyed working with Honl gels because the gels added to, and changed, the mood of their photographs. You can save 10% on all Honl speedlite accessories by using this code upon checkout: RICK2011.

Photo by Joe Brady
To illustrate my lighting technique, I shot tethered and projected the images on an Elite portable screen for the group to see. In the studio, I always shoot tethered.

In addition to thanking all the students for joining the speedlite photo fun, I want to thank Joe Brady from the Mac Group for lending his expertise - indoors and out! See photo below - where Joe, seated, is illustrating daylight fill-in flash.

I also want to thank my friends at FJ Westcott for helping out with the lighting accessories and backgrounds.

And last but certainly not least, we all want to thank our beautiful model for the day, Laurence Yang. You were terrific.

I hope to see you on one of my Master Your Flash/Canon Speedlite Photo Session workshops - or on any of my Croton workshops or USA Workshops.

Shoot me an email to get on my Master Your Flash/Canon Speedlite Photo Sessions.

This just in: a gallery of fun behind-the-scenes shots by Dick Higdon. Thanks, Dick, for sharing!

Explore the light,

P.S. Want to learn more about lighting. Check out my apps!

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,

Reflectors Rocked On My Panama Photo Workshop

Just back from my Panama Photo Workshop. Tons of photo fun! Check out this before-and-after example of the effectiveness of using a single gold reflector. Nuf said.

Check out this behind-the-scenes shot of some of my workshop students (now my good friends) using a reflector to control the light. Nuf said. In this photo, the student (the colonel . . . we all had nicknames) had not yet found the ideal position in which to hold the reflector.

Here is another example of how using a reflector can enhance a photograph. Yup! Nuf said.

Here is the behind-the-scenes view of the "Kuna woman in the window" image.

We were using a Westcott 6-in-1 reflector/diffuser kit, which features:
• a gold reflector, for warm light;
• a sunlight reflector, for a sunlight effect;
• a silver reflector, for a natural light effect;
• two diffusers, to diffuse the light; and
• a black light absorber, to reduce the light.

Info: Westcott 1032 6-in-1 Reflector Kit 42in.

Above is an example of using a reflector and a diffuser in combo.

Some of the students had Pocket Wizards, which are great for off-camera flash photography.

Info:Pocket Wizard FlexTT5 Transceiver For Canon TTL Flashes and Digital SLR Cameras.
Hey! The photo and reflector fun did not stop when the sun went down! One night, after happy hour, we bounced the light from our flashes into a reflector. This technique increased the size of the light source for a soft and pleasing lighting effect.

All of these pictures were taken in the San Blas Islands, Panama. I'd like to thank all the Kuna men and woman who graciously posed for us during our workshop.

And, I'd also like to thank the students. What a great group!! One of my expressions: "The closer you get to the equator, the weather gets warmer . . . and so do the people."

And . . . . I'd really like to thank Tito Herrera, the director of the Panama Photo Workshops (the dude holding the reflector) and his wife, Jamie, for setting up the workshop.

All of my photographs were taken with my Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 24-105mm lens. Info: Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens for Canon EOS SLR Cameras

Explore the light - and please join me on one of my fun-filled and info-packed photo workshops. I'll be back in Panama for the 2012 Panama Photo Festival. Stay tuned!

At Photoshop World in Orlando, I'll be doing a Canon Speedlite session. Hope you can join the fun!

For more lighting tips, see my Light It! app.

You'll also find lighting info in my books.


Cool Stuff And Ideas for Making Cool Pictures in 2011

Happy New Year Everyone!

I know you all want to make great pictures in 2011. Here's some stuff and a few ideas that can help you in your quest!

New Full Body Female Fiberglass Mannequin LM1D. 69.2" 37.7" 26.3" 34.6"
Hey, don't be a dummy when it comes to lighting - and don't waste the subject's time. Buy a mannequin for about $130 and practice different lighting techniques until you master each one . . well in advance of your shooting session. What's more, the mannequin will not complain when you adjust the lights a million times :-)

Lighting idea: Place a light behind the subject and point it toward the subject to light the hair (left), or place a light behind the subject and point it toward the background to light the background (middle). The middle photo is an example of what a "separation" light can do.

Rogue FlashBenders ROGUERELG Large Positionable Reflector
This handy accessory increases the size of the light source . . . and as we all know: the larger the light, the softer the light; the closer the light, the softer the light. If you are serious about your flash photography, don't leave home w/out a Rogue FlashBender.

Lighting idea: Fold the FlashBender in a tube-like fashion to direct the light on a targeted area of the subject. That's what I did for the top left mannequin photograph, targeting the light on the mannequin's hair . . . OK, wig :-)

Here are two shots I took on the show floor at Photo Plus Expo in NYC using a Rogue FlashBender on my Canon Speedlite 580EX II Flash for Canon EOS Digital SLR Cameras.

Speaking of flash photography, my #1 flash tip is: Take the darn flash off the camera! Once you do that, a whole new world of creative flash opportunities away you.
For Canon shooters, here is an accessory for off-camera flash photography:Canon ST-E2 Speedlite Transmitter for Canon 580EX II, 430EX, 430EX II Speedlites

Two accessories for all brands of camears:
Pocket Wizard FlexTT5 Transceiver For Canon TTL Flashes and Digital SLR Cameras
PocketWizard MiniTT1 Radio Transmitter for Canon TTL Flashes and Digital SLR Cameras

Photographic Composition: A Visual Guide. Readers of my blog know that Dr. Richard Zakia is my photo hero. Read this book and you'll see why! Dick will show you a new way of seeing, for sure.

X-Rite ColorChecker Passport
Want accurate color? Check out ColorChecker Passport. This handy accessory, which is about the size of a passport, features color chart panels and a CD. You shoot the color chart in the lighting conditions in which you'll be working, pop the CD into your computer, open the ColorChecker Passport software and . . . voila! Getting images with accurate color is a snap.

Sun-Sniper Camera Strap
True story (just ask the folks who were on my Maine Media Workshop a few years back): One of my cameras fell in a quarry . . . because is slid off my shoulder. Simply put, that will never happen again, because I use the Sun-Sniper Camera Strap. If you shoot with two cameras as I always do, these straps will give you fast access to each camera.

Westcott 301 Photo Basics 40-Inch 5-in-1 Reflector
Seeing the light is of the utmost importance in photography. Knowing how to control the light is also key. If you are serious about taking people pictures, don't leave home without a reflector/diffuser kit. I certainly don't.

If you are not yet into HDR photography, check out Photomatix and HDR Efex Pro.

Photomatix. You can save 15% when you order Photomatix by using this code: ricksammon.

Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro. Save 15% if you use this code: RSAMMON upon check-out on the Nik web site

Like the artistic look in a photograph: Try Topaz Adjust. For my "Old Havana '57 Chevy" photograph, I used the Spicify Effect. Click here to order Topaz Adjust. Hey, save a bundle when you order a Topaz bundle.

Explore the light – and have a great 2011!

Need Info? You've Come to the Right Place

As you may have noticed, I changed the URL of my blog to: That's because it's all about photo how-to info. (If you don't see in the URL window, that's because e-blogger never forgets an old URL, and automatically redirects an old URL to a new URL.)

If you have a specific question, please don't be shy. Post it here as comment. If I don't answer it here, I will try to answer it on the DPE podcast that I do with Juan Pons (who, in addition to being a wonderful photographer, knows a ton about computers, iPads and iPhones - not to mention shooting HD videos with an SLR.

In the meantime, here is a quick tip: Use your camera flash as a studio strobe. Fire it through a diffuser, as shown here, or bounce the light into a reflector.

The basic concept: You increase the size of the light source. The larger the light source, the softer the light.

Tech info:
Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 24-105mm IS lens
Canon ST-E2 wireless transmitter
Westcott diffusers and stands
And . . . that's me holding a Westcott reflector, which is acting as a fill light.

Explore the light,

P.S. That's Vered Koshlano on the left in the opening photograph for this post. See more of Vered's work on her site. Vered is the co-author/photographer of my book, Studio and Location Lighting Secrets. Hey, like the cover shot of the book? My friend, fellow Canon Explore of Light and expert remote control helicopter flyer Eddie Tapp made that wonderful image.