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Join photographer and The Whole Picture host Erin Manning as she demonstrates the essential techniques beginning photographers need to know to start working with studio lighting. Erin introduces the two types of artificial light (speedlights and studio strobes), shows how to assemble a continuous lighting setup, and then explains key concepts such as lighting ratios. She also offers tips for getting better results from an on-camera flash, and taking your photos to the next level with an external speedlight.
That little pop-up flash on your camera can provide some extra light in a pinch. But it's often not a good light to use for anything other than a snapshot. So if you'd like to take your images to the next level and create something that looks more professional, you'll need to use an external flash, also known as a speedlight. Now most modern flash units attach to your camera via hot shoe, just like that. And it uses a mode called TTL or Through The Lens technology.
Now TTL tells the camera and the flash to work together to determine how much light the flash should emit in order to properly expose your subject. Now if you're new to the world of flash photography, you might set your camera's exposure to automatic or program mode and then begin taking pictures. And this is where most people start. The problem is, sometimes you don't have control over how the images turn out because the camera and the flash are making all the exposure choices for you, and your images might look flat, flashed out and harsh, or just plain boring.
But don't worry. Even with the flash located in the most basic position, on top of the camera, with an auto-exposure setting on your camera, you can still create an interesting, beautifully lit photograph with these techniques. So I'm going to show you a few right now. And I'll be doing this with my model here. Mike, hey Mike. >> Hey. >> Thanks for helping us out today. >> No problem. >> So I'll be taking a few different pictures of you and we’re going to be making some comparisons. So, I'll just have you looking straight ahead, always kind of a similar expression for all these pictures.
So, I’m going to start off by everything's in automatic, and I’m going to be taking a picture of Mike just with the bare flash. Make sure everything's on here. And, focus on Mike. And, okay, you're looking good, but wow, this flash shot is looking pretty flashed out. And I've also got a, a shadow behind him. So what I think I'll do is, try something to diffuse that light a little bit. So I'm swiveli-, swiveling up the flash head here. And inside, most flash heads, you’ll find a little white card, you can just kind of pull out, like so.
And what this does is the light from the flash bounces off this white card into his face and softens it a little bit. So, let’s try taking another shot, this way. (NOISE) Let's see how this looks. Mm, a little bit better, it's softer. But I'm going to show you another way to soften the light. And just like what we did in the constant light series we're going to diffuse it. So we have a couple options. One, you might try using one of these white plastic attachments you can put on top of your speedlight to soften the light, or if you'd like to get a little more elaborate, you can try little mini soft box.
And these are pretty easy to use. And you can just attach it to your flash. It fits on pretty much any flash you might have, like so. And what this does is it diffuses the light coming from the flash and softens the light falling upon Mike. So I'm going to take another shot this way. With this diffusion box. (SOUND) Okay. It's looking pretty good. Now, it's looking not quite as bright. Because well I've got a diffusion panel here. And it's kind of knocking down the light a little bit.
So I can try getting in just a little bit closer. Take another shot. Looks pretty good. Okay. So this is one way that you can soften and diffuse the light. Let's say maybe you don't have any diffusion attachments. And maybe you just want to do some experimenting with other things that you can soften the light with. One of them might be say a big white wall, like this. what we're going to do is take the flash head and swivel it around. So now the light from the flash is pointing at this white wall.
And I have it kind of at an angle. It's kind of like playing pool. You hit the wall with the light. And now it's going to bounce back on Mike. And it's a much broader space, much broader light source, it will be softer bouncing back on Mike. So we'll take another shot this way. Point my flash over towards the, the white wall. Looking good. Now that looks really nice. Not only now is the light softer on Mike, but I also have a little directional light coming at him. Because it's coming, bouncing off of this and coming at him from the side.
So it's really nice, and soft, and directional. That looks pretty good. Now let's say you can't find a white wall anywhere. Another way to bounce the light would be to swivel your flash head up like that and point it at say a white ceiling. You want to make sure it's something white or close to being white. Because if you bounce it off a green wall, or a blue wall, or a red wall or ceiling, people are going to have that color cast on them. But, it's a great way to soften and diffuse the light. Thanks, Mike, you did a great job. >> Thank you.
>> Okay. Photographing with a speedlight doesn't have to be an intimidating experience. Just try these techniques and experiment. You don't have to learn everything at once.
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