Creative Flash Photography

Creative Flash Photography

-

English
298 Pages

Description

Make a big impression with small flashes! In this book, Tilo Gockel shows you how to make magic by mastering the use of light. You will learn how to use speedlights to create amazing photographs in any lighting situation. Tilo uses 40 lighting workshops to teach his methods for producing impressive flash shots in portrait, fashion, macro, food, still life, and high-speed photography.

The richly illustrated, easy-to-understand workshops are filled with recommendations and instructions for flash setups, detailed lighting diagrams, and tips and tricks for how to achieve the look of high-end studio shots using simple, accessible equipment, even in your own home. Also included is information on the settings that will help you master complex multi-flash situations, as well as tips on how to create cost-effective, self-built accessories.

Foreword by Strobist.com's David Hobby.


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Published 03 December 2014
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EAN13 9781457188794
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Gockel
Creative Flash Photography
Foreword
by
STROBIST
David Hobby
Also from Rocky Nook
Photoshop CC and Lightroom
Photographers often feel overwhelmed when
starting with Photoshop; the sheer number
of tools and options make it diffcult for the
novice and intermediate user alike. Few books
direct the user to the most signifcant aspects
of the program in a way that refects a real
workfow for the photographer.
Adobe Certifed Instructor Steve Laskevitch
has leveraged his experience as a teacher and Creative Flash Photography
practitioner to create a guide that provides a
Tilo Gockel is a photographer and Great Lighting with Small Flashes: 40 Flash Workshops clear and effective workfow for editing
phoexpert in the feld of fash lighting. tographs in the 2014 release of Photoshop CC
Tilo Gockel
He has published countless articles and its companions Bridge, Camera Raw, and
on photography and image process- Lightroom 5.
ing in popular magazines (DOCMA, Make a big impression with small fashes! In instructions for fash setups, detailed lighting
Focusing on the critical elements of a workfow
DigitalPHO T O) and has written numer - this book, Tilo Gockel shows you how to make diagrams, and tips and tricks that will help you
rather than covering every arcane feature of
ous books. His blog, fotopraxis.net, magic by mastering the use of light. You will achieve the look of high-end studio shots using
the software, this book is designed to get you
provides techniques and teachings learn how to use speedlights to create amazing simple, accessible equipment, even in your
working quickly in these applications. The
varibased on his years of experience as a photographs in any lighting situation. Tilo uses own home. Also included is information on the
ous applications are presented side-by-side
professional photographer. 40 lighting workshops to teach his methods settings that will help you master complex
multiso that a user of one may learn how to use the
for producing impressive fash shots in portrait, fash situations, as well as tips on how to create
others. If you’re new to it all, this book will be Tilo Gockelfashion, macro, food, still life, and high-speed cost-effective, self-built accessories.
your roadmap.
photography.
Foreword by Strobist.com’s David Hobby.
The richly illustrated, easy-to-understand
workshops are flled with recommendations and Creative Flash
Photography
Stephen LaskevitchGreat Lighting with Small Flashes
Photoshop CC and Lightroom 40 Flash Workshops
54495 A Photographer’s Handbook
ISBN 978-1-937538-46-0
$44.95 US, $46.95 CAN
US $ 44.95
www.rockynook.comCAN $ 46.95
9 781937 538460
2222 SC Gockel Creative Flash Photography.indd 1 26.09.14 21:22Tilo Gockel (fotopraxis.net)
Editor: Joan Dixon
Translator: Jeremy Cloot
Copyeditor: Jeanne Hansen
Layout: Jan Martí, Command Z
Cover Design: Helmut Kraus, www.exclam.de
Printer: Friesens Corporation
Printed in Canada
ISBN: 978-1-937538-46-0
1st Edition 2014
© 2014 by Tilo Gockel
Translation © by Rocky Nook, Inc.
802 E. Cota Street, 3rd Floor
Santa Barbara, CA 93103
www.rockynook.com
This is an authorized translation of the German 1st edition © 2013 by Galileo Press GmbH. This translation is published
and sold by permission of Galileo Press GmbH, the owner of all rights to publish and sell the same.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Gockel, Tilo.
Creative flash photography : great lighting with small flashes: 40 flash workshops / by Tilo Gockel. -- 1st edition.
pages cm
ISBN 978-1-937538-46-0 (softcover : alk. paper)
1. Electronic flash photography. I. Title.
TR606.G63 2014
778.7‘2--dc23
2014013449
All rights reserved. No part of the material protected by this copyright notice may be reproduced or utilized in any form,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without
written permission of the publisher.
Many of the designations in this book used by manufacturers and sellers to distinguish their products are claimed
as trademarks of their respective companies. Where those designations appear in this book, and Rocky Nook was aware
of a trademark claim, the designations have been printed in caps or initial caps. All product names and services
identified throughout this book are used in editorial fashion only and for the benefit of such companies with no intention of
infringement of the trademark. They are not intended to convey endorsement or other affiliation with this book. Unless
otherwise stated, the product names and trademarks mentioned in the text are the registered property of their
respective owners and are subject to the appropriate laws. These products and trademarks include Adobe Photoshop, Canon,
Sigma, Tamron, Manfrotto, Yongnuo, and Lipton, among others. The product photos found in these pages are not
intended for advertising purposes and were not shot on request of their manufacturers. They serve exclusively to illustrate
the photographic techniques detailed in the accompanying text.
While reasonable care has been exercised in the preparation of this book, the publisher and author assumes no
responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein or from
the use of the discs or programs that may accompany it.

This book is printed on acid-free paper.Did you know that I am an available light photographer…?
I look in my bag, see that my Vivitar 285 or Sunpak 180j or
Nikon Speedlite is available to me and I use that.
~ Zack Arias
You’ve gotta taste the light. And when you see light like this, trust me,
it’s like a strawberry sundae with sprinkles.
~ Joe McNallyTable of Contents
Author’s Foreword ........................................................................................................x
Foreword by David Hobby ........................................................................................xii
What Every Strobist Needs to Know
Flash Basics ..................................................................................................................4
Choosing Your Equipment: What‘s in the Bag? ..................................................30
The Fun Starts Here!
40 Lighting Workshops
Workshops 1–13:
Portrait and Fashion
1 Portraits for Business Professionals .......................................................... 42
2 That Sunny Feeling ......................................................................................... 46
3 Gobo Projections Using Flash ..................................................................... 50
4 Wide-Aperture Look in Daylight .................................................................. 54
5 Duke, Nuke Them 1 ....................................................................................... 60
6 Duke, Nuke Them 2 64
7 Colored Gels Rock! 68
8 Creating a Fire Effect with an Orange Filter ............................................. 76
9 Key Shifting ..................................................................................................... 82
10 Fashion Shoot in Hard Light ........................................................................ 90
11 Nighttime Bokeh ............................................................................................. 94
12 Dancer in a Flurry of Flash 102
13 Underwater Shoot ........................................................................................108
vi Table of ContentsWorkshops 14–17:
Macro with Flash
14 Using a Macro Rig ........................................................................................... 118
15 Extreme Macro Photography ..................................................................... 124
16 Dewdrop Flowers 128
17 Coins in a Dark Field ..................................................................................... 136
Workshops 18–24:
Still Life and Product Shots
18 Still Life with Bounce Flash .......................................................................... 144
19 Shooting for eBay ........................................................................................... 150
20 Photos for Catalogs ....................................................................................... 156
21 Photographing Reflective Objects .............................................................. 162
22 Perfume Bottle in Translucent Backlight .................................................. 168
23 Acoustic Guitar .............................................................................................. 172
24 Studio-Like Modeling Light ......................................................................... 176
Table of Contents viiWorkshops 25–35:
Food Photos: The Most Important Ingredient is Light!
25 Basic Flash Setup for Food Photos ............................................................ 182
26 A Simple Off-Camera Flash Setup .............................................................. 190
27 A Complex Flash Setup for Food ................................................................ 196
28 Lighting Like Cannelle & Vanille .................................................................. 202
29 Simulating the Sun ......................................................................................... 208
30 Backlit Fruit ........................................................................................................ 214
31 Glowing Pasta .................................................................................................. 218
32 Campari in a Bathtub ...................................................................................... 222
33 Using Smoke to Depict Aroma .................................................................... 226
34 Flavored Gins à la David Hobby .................................................................. 230
35 Chocolate ......................................................................................................... 234
Workshops 36–40:
High Speed Flash: How to Make the Invisible Visible
36 Milk and Chocolate Splash ........................................................................... 242
37 Shooting Splashes in an Aquarium ............................................................ 246
38 Curaçao Wave ................................................................................................. 250
39 Kiwifruit Splash with a Cross-Beam Sensor ............................................. 254
40 Dark Field Martini Splash .............................................................................. 260
viii Table of ContentsIn Depth Tutorials
Spectra and Tricks with Color Filters .................................................................72
Don’t Shake It Up ...................................................................................................81
Depth of Field and Bokeh ....................................................................................98
All About the Sync Speed .................................................................................. 100
Optimum versus Critical Aperture .................................................................. 123
How to Use Mirror Lockup and Live View ..................................................... 133
Optimum Focus ................................................................................................... 160
The Pros and Cons of Using TTL Flash .......................................................... 175
RAW vs. JPEG ........................................................................................................ 239
Appendix A:
How to Calculate Photographic Exposures .........................................................266
Appendix B:
Tools for Creating Lighting Diagrams ..................................................................277
Appendix C:
Additional Sources .................................................................................................... 280
Appendix D:
Glossary ........................................................................................................................281
Index .................................................................................................................................. 287
Table of Contents ixAuthor’s Foreword
Maybe you feel the same way I did when I frst came Part 2 contains 40 workshops with detailed
explaacross fash. I was certainly skeptical and had the nations of various fash scenarios, including people,
harsh look of the typical mug shot in mind, and I had portraits, high-speed fash, macro, products, food,
reservations about tackling the technology. My frst and more. The workshops highlight specifc lighting
fash was a computer fash with functionality that elu - and fash techniques—such as cross lighting and
ded me. But after I repeatedly saw the fantastic ima- high-speed sync, or dragging the shutter—and give
ges by David “Strobist” Hobby, Zack Arias, Joe McNally, you a solid set of tools that will allow you to light any
Ryan Brenizer, and Neil van Niekerk, my curiosity got scene efectively. The techniques range from the
simthe better of me. The Strobist blog (strobist.blogspot. ple use of your camera’s built-in fash to
stroboscocom) and David’s Lighting 101 and Lighting 102 tuto- pic setups with seven or more of-camera fashes.
rials ofered a perfect introduction to the world of Other sections address techniques such as
pseudofash technique. I am especially proud of the fact that HSS/Supersync, key shifting, infrared triggers,
prothe “Strobist” himself has contributed an exclusive jecting patterns with gobos, and much more. Things
foreword to this book. Thanks, David—this book pro- get really interesting when you begin to practice and
bably wouldn’t exist without you! combine the techniques to develop your own unique
I quickly learned that fash doesn’t have to auto- style.
matically kill an image with bright light, red eyes, and I have never found an adequate explanation of
hard-edged shadows. In fact, it is more like a pocket how to precisely and easily calculate an exposure
sun that can—with a little practice—be used to emu- when using both fash and ambient light, so appen -
late and enhance natural light in a range of situations. dix A contains real-world sample exercises (and
soluI soon began to keep a diary of the lighting setups tions) to help you get the hang of calculating exposure
that are now part of this book. It includes lighting dia- values and guide numbers. Although these exercises
grams, the photos that resulted from each session, might seem uninspiring, they will help you learn how
and a wealth of information describing how I took to precisely produce the lighting efects you like.
each image. Appendix B introduces some useful tools for creating
The book is divided in two main sections. Part lighting diagrams. Additional appendices contain a
1 contains a crash course in basic fash technique. valuable list of additional resources and a glossary of
There is also an introduction to the fash gear I have useful terms for the strobist.
found useful over the years, which I hope will save you
the time and money I spent trying out a lot of useless
accessories.
x Author‘s Foreword Because I am a Canon user, you might fnd this
book somewhat specifc to Canon gear, although I
refer to the Nikon equivalents wherever possible.
Gear manufactured by Metz, Pentax, and others is
just as efective as the equipment I describe, and as
soon as you switch to manual mode you are free to
use whatever brand you want anyway.
And now I wish you great lighting and a constant
stream of wow moments with your own fash images.
Tilo Gockel
Please send your comments, criticisms,
and other feedback (including inquires
regarding the models shown in this book) to
kontakt@fotopraxis.net.
Author‘s Foreword xiForeword by David Hobby
I was seven years old the frst time I can remember latitude of transparency flm and the fact that we had
using a camera. It was 1972. We were at a family to wait until the flm was processed to see the results
reunion, and my uncle let me use his new Canonet of our lighting experiments. So we played it safe and
G-III. To me it seemed like magic, and I was hooked. over time learned how to light.
Just one year later I had my own camera and a small Being both curious and patient, through trial and
darkroom in a shed in my backyard. Watching an error we slowly flled our bag of lighting tricks. The
image appear in the developer tray was yet more photos from our assignments began to look better,
magic. From that point on I was rarely seen without cleaner, and more interesting. But because of the
a camera in my hand. In high school, a staf position slow learning pace, the results were still predictable.
on the class yearbook meant two things: frst, I had That all changed in 1988 when we switched to
digilicense to explore the school with my camera; second, tal cameras. Now we had instant feedback. We could
someone else was paying for my flm. Five years later try anything with our lights and immediately see the
I was a newspaper photojournalist, a career that I changes to our photos. The result was a sort of
Camwould enjoy for 25 years. Many of those years were brian explosion for our lighting techniques. Our skill
spent shooting black-and-white flm, where light qua- level grew quickly with each passing assignment. We
were studying the work of other photographers to lity was a luxury and the color of the light really didn’t
matter. learn as much as we could.
That all changed when we switched to color flm, The efects previously attainable only with big,
especially because we shot transparencies. All of a expensive, heavy lights tied to power cords could be
achieved with small battery-powered fashes—or, as sudden, light mattered. It mattered a lot. We needed
to learn how to improve the lighting by combining we called them, speedlights, which were about the
ambient light and electronic fash. If you kept the size of a sandwich. We quickly grew to think of these
fash on your camera, the results were fairly safe and lights as being near magic that could light anything.
The magic had always been there, of course, but just predictable. For a newspaper photographer shooting
in lots of run-and-gun situations, safety and predicta- like in a fantasy tale, we now had the ability to see
bility were good things. A fash on a camera is good at the magic. The fash happens in just 1/1000 second
one thing: illuminating detail; but you are essentially or less, which is much faster than the human eye can
perceive. But since we could instantly see the results lighting with all the creativity of a photocopier. We
quickly learned that if we took the small fashes of on the backs of our cameras, we could quickly adjust
our cameras, safety and predictability were replaced the power or position of the light to achieve the
by magic and surprise. The magic was that our pho- efect we wanted. That led to the development of our
lighting intuition. With experience, we began to see tos could capture the world in a much more
threedimensional way. With a diference between lens and predict the quality of our of-camera lights before
position and light position form and texture could be we captured an image. When I held a tiny little
speedshown. The surprise was that the results were pretty light in my hands, I saw it with the familiarity of a very
powerful, continuous light source. We had made the unpredictable, thanks to the unforgiving exposure
xii Foreword by David Hobbyleap of understanding what happened too fast for If you are just beginning the journey of learning
our eyes to see. In early 2006 I decided to share what about photographic lighting, welcome. The path is
others and I had learned, just as others had helped fun and the rewards are many. The only requirement
me build my photographic skills more than 20 years is a willingness to believe in something that happens
earlier. The Internet had become ubiquitous, and too fast for you to truly see, and to be open to the
companies like Google allowed people to create a magic that can happen if you are willing to let it.
blog for free.
In 2006, I started Strobist.com with the goal of David Hobby
creating the frst website about photographic lighting Strobist.com
that was both 100% open small fash
photographic lighting and absolutely free. It seemed like a neat
idea for an experiment and since it cost me nothing
to try, there was no risk other than my lost time.
As it turned out, there were many, many
photographers who wanted to understand the light from their
small fashes. By the end of the frst day, Strobist had
received over 5,000 views. Within a month, that
number had grown to 250,000. There was no turning back.
As a result, now tens of millions of people have
learned from Strobist to better understand the devices
that allow them to control the most important
variable in their photographic world. Other websites have
sprung up all over the world to echo the idea that
lighting can be easily taught—and learned.
Entrepreneurial photographers who saw solutions
to lighting problems have created amazing new
lighting products and modifers. Other photographers
had a passion for lighting and a desire to teach
others, so they wrote books. Like the one you are
now holding in your hand.
Foreword by David Hobby 2 What Every Strobist
Needs to Know
• Flash Basics
• Choosing Your Equipment
You have a lot to learn before you can use fash in your
sleep, and getting started can be tricky. This chapter
provides a crash course in fash basics and
introduces the gear you need to efectively use fash. You will
learn how to fne-tune your skills using the sample
setups in the individual workshop chapters that follow.
If you fnd this chapter difcult, whet your appetite by
looking at some of the workshops, then refer back to
this chapter to fnd the answers to questions you may
have. Of course, you can spend a lot of money on fash
gear, but you don’t have to spend a lot to get started.
I’ll show you what I keep in my camera and tripod bags
and I’ll explain which equipment has been invaluable
during my career.
 3 Flash Basics
} Up close and personal with spectra, the inverse square law, and guide numbers
} How to meter exposures and use light shapers
} Set up and unleash your flash
Let There Be Light!Even without f ash, you need plenty of practice to
successfully juggle exposure times, ISO values, and aper- Along with the main subject in an image, light is the
tures while you shoot. Flash adds even more vari- most important aspect of the photographic process. If
ables to the mix. The routine of everyday photography the light is right, you can make great photos, even using
becomes more complex with the introduction of f ash a simple cell phone camera. In extreme situations you
output, subject distance, angles of emission, and light- may have to deal with too little or too much light, and
shaping tools. When you use f ash, rusty old friends this means that the sensor of your camera only delivers
like exposure times need to be reviewed and you will the tonal values black or white. Light can communicate
need to learn new techniques like high-speed sync and information and evoke emotions. After you learn to
second-curtain sync. The following sections explain the work with light, you will be able to accentuate important
relationships among all these factors, and appendix A parts of a scene and let less important elements
disapon page 266 includes some sample calculations for you pear into the background.
to try. Physically speaking, light is the part of the
electromagnetic spectrum that can be visually perceived. The
sensitivity curve for the human eye shows that we are
capable of seeing wavelengths between 400 and 800
Sensitivity to brightness
nanometers (nm) and that we are most sensitive to
1.0
green tones. Dogs and camera sensors see light dif
er0.9
Nighttime Daytime
0.8 ently. Dogs, for instance, are red/green color blind, and
0.7
digital image sensors can pick up near-infrared waves 0.6
0.5 that the human eye cannot see.
0.4
Light propagates in space according to the inverse 0.3
Maximum =
0.2 square law, which states that the intensity of light close 550 nanometers
0.1
to its source is proportional to the inverse square of the 0.0
350 450 550 650 750 800 nm distance to the source.
violet blue green yellow orange red infrared
The inverse square law: If you double the distance
between the subject and the light source, you will need
four times as much light to illuminate a surface with the
same intensity. If you triple the distance, you need nine p The sensitivity curve for the human eye and the corresponding
visible spectrum times as much light.
4 What Every Strobist Needs to KnowFlash Basics 5t The inverse square law:
If you double the distance
between the subject and the
light source, you will need
four times as much light to
illuminate a surface with the
same intensity. If you triple
9A the distance, you need nine Light Source
4A times as much light.
A
The inverse square law assumes that you are using The color temperature of ambient light varies
dura light source that radiates symmetrically. In the fgure ing the day from warm gold to pure white to cool blue
above you can see that only one-fourth of the light from tones. If you need consistent light indoors or outdoors
the source is available to illuminate each of the four during the evening, you need to use either a continuous
squares of the subject at double the distance. That is, artifcial light source or a fash. The major advantages
the amount of light that reaches the subject decreases of continuous light over fash are that it allows you to
proportionally to the square of its distance from the immediately see how your image will look, and you can
light source. The inverse square law is especially impor- use it to capture moving images. But the disadvantages
tant in fash photography, and we will revisit this con- outweigh the advantages. The light yield is relatively
cept many times throughout this book. Appendix A low, and many conventional sources of continuous
explains how to calculate with the inverse square law in light—halogen, neon, and light-emitting diode (LED)
real-world situations. lamps, for example—produce illumination that is either
too warm or too cool, or it simply has too many gaps in
Continuous Light
Why is there a section about continuous light in a book
about fash? The main reason is that the advantages
and disadvantages of fash become even more obvious
when fash light is compared with other light sources.
The sun is the most widely used source of continuous
light. It provides cheap, bright light with a useful
spectrum and it’s available everywhere. But to tame sunlight
you need to use refectors, difusers, shades, and other
light-shaping tools. These tools transform hard, direct
sunlight into a soft, difuse source of photographic
illup Some continuous light sources have problematic gaps in their
mination. Unfortunately, the opposite is impossible; spectrums. This fgure shows the spectrum produced by sunlight
you can’t produce hard sunlight on a cloudy day. or fash (top) compared to a typical energy-saving lamp (bottom).
6 What Every Strobist Needs to Knowits spectrum. All continuous light sources require long because guide numbers depend on additional factors,
exposure times, high ISO values, or both, which inevita- such as the light beam’s angle of refection and the
bly leads to increased image noise. Images taken with a zoom setting of the fash refector. If you need to
comfash usually look cleaner. pare accessory and studio fash units, you can generally
assume that the most common models (SB-900, 580EX
II, YN-560, etc.) have output values of around 60–70 Ws.
The Nature of Flash
The relationship between fash output and exposure
Photographers have used fash since the very beginning value (EV) numbers is linear (see appendix A on page
of the photographic age. The frst fash experiments 266). If you double the fash output, the EV for the shot
used magnesium powder that was ignited by hand dur- is also doubled.
ing the exposure. Nowadays, we use sealed glass tubes
flled with xenon. One of the major reasons fash has Flash Duration | People often assume that fash
become so popular is that it provides an extremely durations are so short they are negligible when it comes
bright source of light for a very short period of time to calculating exposures. However, when you use
highspeed fash or another technically advanced technique, (see a comparison of continuous light and fash light
on page 266 in appendix A). Xenon produces a visible such as Supersync (also sometimes called pseudo-HSS
spectrum with a color temperature that is similar to the or tail-sync hack), the duration is highly relevant. As the
midday sun, which makes it well suited to photographic curve in the fgure shows, fash duration is
logarithmic rather than linear, and it is stated in terms of the applications. In contrast to neon or LED light, xenon has
very few gaps in its spectrum. Flash light and sunlight two constants t and t which represent the time it
0.5 0.1
produce great results when they are combined, and takes for the fash output to subside to 0.5x and 0.1x
battery-powered fash units are small and easy to carry. of the full output. The following formula delivers a good
They can allow the photographer to freeze action in an approximation of the relationship between the two:
image, and their point-shaped light source is perfect for
use with accessories such as umbrellas and softboxes. t ≈ 3 x t
0.1 0.5
The following sections list the terms and units that are
used to describe the light produced by a fash unit. When you use an accessory fash, assume that the
fash duration is approximately proportional to the
outFlash Output | The energy released when a fash put setting you use. For example, a Nikon SB-900 unit
unit is fred is measured in joules  (J) or watt-seconds produces fash light for 1/20,000 second at t
(mini0.1
(Ws). If you know the size of the capacitor in your fash mum output) and 1/500 second at full output. If you
unit and its charge voltage, you can calculate the energy want to freeze the movement of liquids or splashes, you
stored in the capacitor using the following formula: need to select a low output setting and use additional
fash units in parallel if one unit doesn’t provide enough
1
2W = CU light. Studio fash units often cannot be set to such low 2
output power and therefore are generally slower.
The output of most studio fash units is expressed
in Ws (400 Ws is a typical value), but an accessory fash
unit is often described in terms of its guide number
(see the “Guide Numbers” section on page 8).
Converting joules directly to guide numbers doesn’t work
Flash Basics 7changes, you can calculate the maximum fash range
Luminous Flux
using the following formula:
100 % E GNL F
A =
B 100
Here, the maximum distance or range, A, and the
guide number, GN, are given in meters; B is the
aper50 % ture setting; and E represents the current ISO setting,
F
which is usually assumed to be 100.
Examples of how to calculate using guide numbers
are provided in appendix A on page 266.
t t0.5 0.110 % Time
1/1500 s 1/500 s
Shaping and Directing Light
p The fash durations t and t in relation to the curve of fash 0.5 0.1
output over time In addition to its spectral distribution and energy, light
is also described in terms of its directionality and
difThe relationship of fash output ~ fash duration fuseness, such as harsh direct sunlight, the soft light
doesn’t always apply. Studio fash units often use found in shade, or the light that enters through a
northmultiple capacitors, depending on the current output facing window. Sunlight is a direct, point-shaped light
setting. The best way to fnd the right setting for the source and creates well-defned, hard-edged shadows,
shortest possible fash duration is to refer to the user’s whereas the light from a north-facing window is difuse
manual or ask the manufacturer. and forms soft-edged shadows. If neither sunlight nor
light from the north is available, you can still produce
Guide numbers | A guide number (GN) is used to various degrees of difused light using fash and light
indicate how much light a fash unit can produce. The shapers.
GN is defned as the product of the maximum distance Difusers function like clouds; they enlarge the light
at which the fash can illuminate a subject (A) and the source and soften its overall efect. Refectors—such
aperture (B): as a white wall or a piece of Styrofoam—have a
similar efect and also enlarge the light source. Because
GN = A x B light that enters a north-facing window does not come
directly from the sun and is scattered by the
surroundGuide numbers can be quoted for specifc angles ings, this type of light is difuse, even on cloudless days.
of view and ISO settings. For example, for the Canon The distance between the subject and the light source
Speedlite 580EX II, the GN is given as 58 meters at ISO also plays a role; the closer the subject is to the light
100 and a zoom setting of 105mm. Because large num- source, the larger and softer it will appear. The sun is
bers are more impressive, fash manufacturers usually an extremely large light source, but it’s very far away, so
quote guide numbers at the maximum (i.e., narrowest) sunlight acts like a hard point of light.
available zoom setting. You can use the maximum
subject distance or a known aperture setting to calculate Direct and Difuse Refection | If you point a small
the required guide number setting. If the ISO value light source at a mirror, the refected light will look
nearly the same as the source light because the light
8 What Every Strobist Needs to Knowt Just like in a game of pool, the angle
of incidence of light rays is the same as
the angle of ref ection. The left side of the
illustration shows the behavior of light
rays hitting a smooth surface, such as
a mirror. On the right, it shows how a
textured matte surface partly dif uses the
incoming light rays. This results in a mix
of direct and dif use ref ection.
is directly ref ected. A mirror is therefore no use as a to enter the box. The inside surface of the rear
coverref ector unless you simply want to redirect the light. If ing is lined with ref ective silver material, which helps to
you want to soften the ref ected light, you need to use a increase the light yield. Softboxes can be square,
octagonal, rectangular, or long and thin like a strip light. In textured matte surface to dif use the ref ection.
contrast to dif users and ref ectors, which soften light,
Playing of the Cushions | Just like the balls in a game other types of light shapers can concentrate and shape
of pool, ref ected light and dif used-ref ected rays follow light. Typical light shapers include snoots and
honeycomb grids, which form and reduce light into narrow the equation angle of incidence = angle of ref ection. If you
bounce light of a ref ector, you have to keep this rule in beams; barn doors allow you to precisely adjust the
mind when you position your lights. vertical or horizontal dispersion of light. You can also
mount dark-colored f ags close to the light source to
darken specif c areas of the scene.Standard Light-Shaping Tools | In addition to ref
ectors, you can also use partially transparent dif users The illustrations on pages 12–14 show various
to shape the light from a f ash unit. Frosted and sand- professional studio lighting products and the ef ects
blasted glass make great dif users, as do translucent they produce. All these tools are available in versions
foils, light-colored textiles, and paper. Dif used light
allows you to produce more subtle lighting ef ects.
The most widely used type of light shapers are 5-in-1
or 7-in-1 ref ectors, which have a dif user at their core
and can be used with white, silver, or gold coverings.
You can also use these ref ectors with a black cover to
reduce the amount of light that reaches the subject.
A translucent umbrella is a type of collapsible
diffuser, and a ref ective umbrella can serve as a simple
foldable ref ector.
Umbrellas produce soft light too, but because they
are open at the back they can allow unwanted stray light
to reach the subject. The idea of a closed umbrella led
to the invention of the softbox—a kind of box-shaped p A 5-in-1 ref ector set. The base can also be used as a dif user.
dif user with a rear covering that does not allow light (Photo courtesy of EnjoyYourCamera)
Flash Basics 9t With a ref ective umbrella
(left), the f ash is directed into the
ref ector and the light is ref ected
toward the subject. Conversely,
the light from the f ash shines
through a dif user umbrella
(right). Both types of umbrella
enlarge the light source and produce
softer light. (Photos courtesy of
EnjoyYourCamera)
designed to be used with a camera’s hot shoe, also
referred to as system f ash. It is important to
remember that system f ash units produce much less output
than their studio equivalents, so they are not suitable
for use with oversized ref ectors or softboxes.
Additionally, because these products have built-in ref ectors, the
light they produce is more direct. They can be ef
ectively used with umbrellas, but they are less suitable for
use with specialized accessories such as parabolic tele
ref ectors, which are designed to be used with
omnidirectional light sources (e.g., sunlight that comes from
all directions). There are two ways to work around this
restriction:
} Attach a clip-on dif user to your f ash. This produces
a more omnidirectional light but reduces the f ash
output.
} Modify your f ash unit to work in bare-bulb mode. For
details about how to do this, search the Internet for
p The insides of softboxes (left) and octaboxes (right) are coated
“bare-bulb f ash.”
with a silver material to increase the light yield. The ef ect they
produce is similar to that of a dif user umbrella, but without the
risk of stray light escaping from the device. (Photos courtesy of
EnjoyYourCamera)
10 What Every Strobist Needs to Knowp A snoot with honeycomb grids (left), a snoot mounted on an on-camera f ash unit (center),
and barn doors (right). These light shapers are used to reduce and direct the light to small
spots or stripes. (Photos courtesy of EnjoyYourCamera)
Exposure Metering
you need to use a relatively wide aperture, such as f/2.8,
Exposure metering for f ash requires a dif erent and an ISO value of 800 or more. In contrast, the sunny
approach than metering in continuous light. The follow- 16 rule states that in sunlight, if you set the aperture to
ing sections provide detail about the available options f/16 and the exposure time to the inverse of the ISO
and discuss which approach is best in certain situations. value (e.g., 1/100 second at ISO 100, 1/200 second at
Also covered is how to mix f ash and ambient light. ISO 200, etc.), you will probably produce a correctly
exposed image. At ISO 100 and 1/200 second, you
Using Tried-and-True Settings | The EV of a photo would need to set the aperture to f/11.
is an absolute value, so you can use standard values
in situations with known conditions. The accompany- Scenario Exposure value (EV)
ing table lists a few sample situations and the values Evening skyline just before 12–14
you can expect to use. Zero EV is assumed to be the sundown
result of shooting with an aperture of f/1 and an expo- Brightly lit shop windows 7–8
sure time of 1 second (see also “Setting Exposure Using at night
Known Values” on page 270). In real-world situations Art gallery 8–11
you will rarely use this method of adjusting your expo- Cloudy landscape at mid- 12
sure, but it will help you develop a feel for what hap- day
pens when you alter the exposure time or ISO value. Indoors in the evening 5–7
For example, when you shoot indoors in artif cial light, under artif cial light
Flash Basics 11t Type S 9˝ parabolic ref ector,
Expert Pro Plus 500, 88 Ws.
Metered apertures:
1. f/8
2. f/4 + 8/10
3. f/4 + 6/10
t Type S 9˝ parabolic ref ector
with #1 honeycomb grid, Expert
Pro Plus 500, 189 Ws.
Metered apertures:
1. f/8
2. f/2.8 + 8/10
3. f/1 + 3/10
t Hensel Accent Tube snoot
and Expert Pro Plus 1000,
812 Ws.
Metered apertures:
1. f/8
2. f/4
3. f/1.4
12 What Every Strobist Needs to Know
Images by Michael Quack/Visual Pursuitt Hensel Softstar 42 in dif usion
umbrella, Expert Pro Plus 500, 330 Ws.
Metered apertures:
1. f/8
2. f/5.6 + 2/10
3. f/5.6 + 8/10
t Hensel Master 42 in silver
umbrella, Expert Pro Plus 500, 379 Ws.
Metered apertures:
1. f/8
2. f/5.6 + 2/10
3. f/5.6 + 5/10
t White Hensel beauty dish, Expert
Pro Plus 1000, 616 Ws.
Metered apertures:
1. f/8
2. f/5.6
3. f/5.6 + 5/10
Flash Basics 13
Images by Michael Quack/Visual Pursuitt Hensel softbox 18 x 26 in, Hensel
Tria 3000-AS with EH Pro Mini
head, 462 Ws.
Metered apertures:
1. f/8
2. f/4 + 8/10
3. f/5.6 + 1/10
t Hensel Octaform 60 in octabox,
Hensel Tria 3000-AS with EH Pro
Mini head, 350 Ws.
Metered apertures:
1. f/8
2. f/4 + 7/10
3. f/5.6 + 2/10
t Hensel 3000-AS Ringf ash with
EH Pro Mini head, 462 Ws.
Metered apertures:
1. f/8
2. f/4 + 8/10
3. f/5.6 + 1/10
14 What Every Strobist Needs to Know
Images by Michael Quack/Visual Pursuitp Flash exposure compensation
(top). In auto exposure mode
(bottom), exposure compensation can be
used to inf uence your results. p The exposure meter display works in manual mode too
Because 1/200 second is the standard f ash sync can inf uence the exposure by adjusting the exposure
value for many cameras, it’s an important base value compensation. I f nd that automatic exposure
meterif you want to use additional f ash (see “Flash Synchro- ing produces slightly inconsistent results from shot to
nization” on page 25). Although the formula works only shot, so I use it only if I’m in a hurry. You will get more
for available light, you can still use it as a jumping-of stable and predictable results if you shoot in manual
point to calculate settings for f ash shots that also (M) mode and take your time to carefully meter each
include ambient light. shot. Keep an eye on the viewf nder meter display to
help you judge the ambient light while you shoot. If you
Using the Camera’s Built-in Light Meter | If you use use the built-in meter as the basis for your calculations,
your camera’s automatic exposure mode, you are sure it is important to remember that the readings assume
to use the built-in light meter often. In this mode the the subject has a ref ectivity of 18%. If you base your
camera uses readings from the built-in exposure meter measurements on a reading from a standard gray card,
to automatically set the exposure time, aperture, and everything will be f ne. If, however, you take meter
readISO value. You can adjust the exposure by using the ings from pale skin or white textiles, you will have to
camera’s exposure compensation function. deliberately overexpose your shot (e.g., between 2/3
If you then mount a through-the-lens (TTL) f ash unit and 1 1/3 stops) to prevent the image from turning
from the same manufacturer as your camera, the cam- out too dark. A useful way to set up your camera for
era will automatically adjust the exposure. Again, you a portrait shot using ambient light is to turn of
autoFlash Basics 15focus and switch to center-weighted metering before
you switch to manual (M) mode, then zoom in so the
subject’s face flls the frame. Adjust the exposure so the
meter reading in the viewfnder is at 0, and then add 2/3
stop of overexposure.
If you are able to operate your camera controls
without looking, you can use this method to set a
correct exposure without taking your eye away from the
viewfnder. This procedure can also work in spot and
matrix metering modes. I often use spot metering in
tricky situations, and I use center-weighted metering
for general shooting.
This approach to metering will also help you
practice non-TTL fash metering. If you want to block out the
p The photographer has preset ISO 100 and 1/125 second,
ambient light in a scene, you can keep an eye on the and the meter has calculated an aperture value of f/11
appropriate level of underexposure in the viewfnder (Photo courtesy of Arturko, Fotolia.de)
display, and if you want to include ambient light in your
shot, you can also adjust the exposure on ambient light
in this way.
Using a Separate Light Meter | Apart from the spe- or aperture (if you preset the ISO value and exposure
cial case of TTL fash metering, built-in exposure meters time).
can measure only continuous light sources. To work Most studio photographers meter the light that
around this limitation, you can use a separate hand- comes from their lamps, even though this increases
held exposure meter that calculates the exposure value the risk of dark objects turning out too dark and light
t High-end light meters
allow you to meter the
light coming directly
from the source or the
light refected by the
subject
16 What Every Strobist Needs to Knowt A screen loupe enlarges
the monitor image and makes
it much easier to judge the
quality and sharpness of your
images, regardless of how
bright the ambient light is
objects turning out too bright. Metering ref ected light and reliable way to judge your exposure. Camera
moniallows you to better judge the correct exposure for tors are small, but they display adequate image quality
complex subjects. and show precisely how the light is distributed in the
Many of today’s light meters can also be used to image. You can quickly judge if the main and accent
meter f ash light, either by using a built-in sensor to lights are placed correctly and if you have struck a good
measure the peak f ash intensity or by RF-triggering balance of f ash and ambient light. If the image in the
these devices parallel to the f ash unit itself. To use a camera monitor is too bright or too dark, you can turn
f ash meter, begin by setting reasonable base values, of the auto brightness function. I always do this and
such as ISO 100 and 1/125 second, before you turn set a static medium brightness value. In bright light, a
on the meter and f re the f ash. If the meter indicates dedicated screen loupe is a great tool to help you
accuan aperture of f/11 for a correct exposure, but your
planned shot requires a larger aperture, simply dial in
the appropriate value on your f ash. Remember that
each full f-stop doubles (or halves) the f ash output. If
your f ash unit supports smaller increments between
full f-stops, each increment usually represents 1/3 stop
or 1/10 stop.
Metering Using the Camera Monitor and
Histogram | This metering method involves taking a test p If you use your camera monitor to evaluate the
shot and checking it visually (with the help of the over- exposure, always switch of the automatic brightness
exposure warning) on the camera monitor. This is a fast control, and if possible, use a screen loupe
Flash Basics 17rately see the preview image. I also use the highlight
overexposure warning function (the blinking
overexposed areas) to help me identify any clipped highlights.
The histogram is also a useful exposure aid. A
well-exposed photo will have a histogram curve that
approaches, but doesn’t touch, the right side of the
graph. With a little practice, you will learn to identify
which parts of an image are represented in the
histogram by the peaks and valleys. In the sample image in
the accompanying f gure, for example, you might decide
that the sky is of less importance than other areas of
p The arrows pointing to the blinking areas in the
imthe image. The blown-out highlights might not matter,
age (left) are ref ected in the histogram (right). Note that
and you may decide that retaining the shadow detail on the peak on the right side of the histogram shows the
the fronts of the buildings is worth the overexposure. overexposure: these areas of the image are blown out
(i.e., they contain no usable data).On the other hand, you can expose backlit subjects
to retain background detail while the subject appears
as a silhouette. The histogram for the image of a
mannequin makes it easy to tell if the image is correctly
exposed. For example, in the backlit shot of Kimi on the
next page, the background plays a secondary role and q The histogram indicates a
the blinking warning areas do not matter. perfect silhouette with deep,
saturated blacks and no
blownout areas in the background
t The histogram
warning function is enabled so
you can see if you need to
adjust the exposure
18 What Every Strobist Needs to Knowp There are only a few bright areas in the image (the model’s face and arm, and the light in the background), and that makes this
image appear underexposed in the histogram, but it is correctly exposed. The screenshots are from a Canon EOS Rebel T1i (EOS 500D)
(top) and a Canon PowerShot G10 (bottom). (Model: Layka)
I shot the above photo with a Canon PowerShot
G10. This combination of camera and subject required
a lot of care when it came to identifying the few
relevant peaks at the right side of the histogram. Be
careful when you shoot subjects that don’t f ll much of the
frame. Depending on the scene and the camera, it can
be extremely dif cult to correctly identify the parts of
the histogram that relate to the subject, which makes it
hard to evaluate the exposure. In this case, it was
preferable to using the camera’s display or checking the
blinking histogram warning.
t The blinking areas show that the
strong backlight completely burns
out the background, but the model
is correctly exposed (Model: Kimi)
Flash Basics 19