Total Pageviews

Monday, September 19, 2011

Photography for Dummies, By Dummies: Episode 07

Ever had a question about photography you wanted to ask, but felt it was too stupid? Now you can feel stupid in private instead!


As I have mentioned many times before, in this photoblog or personally, lighting is everything is photography. EVERYTHING. In essence, without light, there cannot be photography. Therefore, in order to get extraordinary photographs, or even good, plain ones, good lighting is paramount. Whether natural lighting or artificial lighting, knowledge on lighting is an absolute must for any photographer. In the absence of natural light, flashes, or speed lights have a very close and unique relationship with your camera. However, it does not end there. Having a flash is no big deal. Give a monkey a few coins and he can buy a flash too. It’s how you use it, that separates the men from the monkeys.

In this segment I’m going to try to explain the various techniques used when it comes to flash photography. In fact, when I began this journey, I recognized the importance of artificial lighting and this is one of the first things I picked up. This journey is long and hard, I’ve learned much but there is still so far to go. I’ve been expanding and developing this skill ever since. I hope to be able to help you cut your journey a little shorter by sharing what little information I have discovered along the way, with you.

There are many ways to use your flash in order to get maximum results. Of course, no one individual flash technique is the be-all-end-all of flash techniques. You need to identify various situations and circumstances in which to use the most effective flash technique. Let’s start with the most basic of all flash techniques shall we?

1.         Direct Flash Method

This one is a no-brainer. Just point your flash head (the flash head is the top part of your speed light which emits light as well as rotates and/or folds) towards the subject and shoot. Easy like A,B,C or Sunday morning, depending on what era you come from. Advantage of using this technique? Even a child can use this. Plus your subject is virtually guaranteed to be lighted. With the advancement of ETT-L technology, the automatic metering makes this technique the technique of choice for many beginners. Disadvantages? Using this method, the lighting will be particularly harsh. Your subject will likely be washed-out, or blown-out, meaning they will be over-exposed, i.e. too bright.

2.         Bounce Flash Method

One of the cardinal rules of lighting in photography is “The Larger the Light Source, the Softer the Shadows”. This means that in order for you to do away with those ugly, shadowy backgrounds, you’ll need to use a larger light source. The Direct Flash method is sure to result in harsh shadows, seeing that the light source, i.e. the flash head, is a small concentrated light source.

One way out of this is to spread the light out by bouncing it of any surface. Commonly, a flash is tilted upwards and bounced off the ceiling unto the subject. Sometimes, you can even bounce it sideways if the mood takes you. How does this help? Well, shoot your flash at the ceiling, and the ceiling lights up, becoming the ‘new’ and much larger light source for the subject. Pros? Easy to do, dramatic lighting in some instances and soft, even lighting most of the time. Cons? Mostly done only indoors and with low-enough ceilings. Dinner halls (where most events are held) are out of the question.

3.         Diffuse Light Method

The principle for diffusing light is more or less the same as the Bounce Flash Method. In essence, one tries to increase the size of the light source, hence making the shadows of the subject more manageable. However, when diffusing light, the idea is to spread or reduce the strength of the light, either by using bounce cards or filters, respectively.

Bounce cards are attached to the top of the flash head, often at an angle, and often adjustable. This is to enable you to ‘aim’ your bounce light, even in the absence of a ceiling. Because the light source is not ‘direct’ + the light also is spread all around, this reduces the harsh shadows. Currently in the market, there is a slew of accessories to this effect. 

Diffuser filters work similarly, although not so much to bounce light. A diffuser effectively filters the harsh direct light to cut down on the glare. You can either point the flash with a diffuser attached directly at your subject, or if you want softer lighting, you may want to diffuse the light AND bounce it as well.

4.         Off-Camera Flash Method

This particular flash method is unique from the earlier examples. As the name suggests, the method requires the flash to be separate from the camera body. Of course, some sort of connection is required, either by wire, or by wireless transmitter. Fans of this particular flash method are better known as ‘Strobists’, so named for their passion in using strobe lights

If you guys have any thoughts or question on this or any other photography related matter, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thanks for viewing! Until next time.

To view other post in the Photography For Dummies Series, please click on the hyperlinks below

Episode 1: You want to buy a DSLR?

Episode 2: Lighting the way

Episode 3: The Rule of the matter

Episode 4: To RAW or not to RAW

Episode 5: How to Shoot Weddings

Episode 6: Image Stabilizers

For those of you who like statistics:
Vital Stats for September: 4 post 317 pics
Vital Stats So Far: 105 posts 4,180 pics

Disclaimer: The views published in the above photoblog are the author's and the author's alone. If readers are not agreeable with the above views, well, you can bugger-off. All rights are reserved for the photos and the article itself. This article may be reproduced with permission of the author for private or public usage, or other forms of general mayhem. Any unauthorized usage of the images or articles contained therein is expressly prohibited and violators will be prosecuted with the full force of Malaysian law applicable. Thank you for reading this disclaimer.

No comments:

Post a Comment