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Harsh, unflattering lighting can ruin a photo—and with flash, it's easy to get harsh, unflattering lighting. But flash is a necessary part of a photographer's toolset—after all, the world doesn't always provide you with the best natural light.
Fortunately, it isn't difficult to get great results from flash, and in this course, photographer, author, and teacher Ben Long details the concepts and techniques behind effective lighting with flash. Ben starts with fundamentals that build on exposure principles taught in other installments of Foundations of Photography—simple techniques that improve the results from a camera's built-in flash. He then focuses on fill flash techniques and on using flash as a key light. The course also explores topics ranging from bouncing and syncing flash to shooting with one or more off-camera flash units.
Every scene you will shoot will have some form of ambient light in it unless your shooting in a studio working exclusively with lights that your in complete control of. Most of us, though, shoot in the real world where there is always some kind of light source around, sunlight, a table lamp, an overhead light. If these weren't around we'd be you know, bumping into things. More importantly, without ambient light, we'd never see the scene before us. And so we'd never be inpsired to take a picture of it. So, I'm standing here in some ambient light. I'm not standing here in a lot of ambient light.
Though, I'm too dark. You can't see me. So at this point if you were to take a picture of me, you'd probably go, I need to use my flash. And so, you would turn your flash on and take the picture and hit me with a bunch of flash. We're going to simulate that right now. Not with a flash but with a spot light. We want to slow down this process of taking a flash picture. So we can really take apart how it works. So, now I've got all this extra light on me. Using the flash or in this case a spotlight, we've added a bunch of light to the scene. To get me up to a better level of illumination. So yes, I'm now more bright, I'm kind of too bright though.
I'm approaching radiation burns, which is not what I want. So, at this point you might go, it's okay, I know what to do, it's too bright, I need to turn down my exposure. So you might take another shot with a lower exposure on your camera, maybe using exposure compensation to take out a stop. But when I do that, look at what happens to the background. I'm not just underexposing me, I'm underexposing the entire scene. And the background is falling out to complete black. This mount may now be starting to look familiar to you, this might look like what you're used to in a a flash picture. A brightly lit subject in front of a black limbo background.
We don't want that, so let's turn the exposure back up to where it was before and solve this problem a different way. Rather than adjusting the exposure, let's adjust the amount of light that's coming from the flash. Let's turn it down and by doing that, now I am starting to look better exposed. This is much nicer. I don't have that seared look that I had before. So we are starting get somewhere and the problem now is, back there that's all too dark, I would like that to be brighter. So now I can start to adjust my exposure again to get this brighter.
Let's up the exposure to pull some more detail out of that background there. That's starting to look pretty good, I can see better detail, I can tell this is going to print better than it would have before and that's the only way I think. The problem now is I'm starting to get that burned look again. So, I can't take the exposure back down to solve that because it will darken my background but I can take more of the flashlight out. This light that I've been adding, I can lessen, a ha, here we go, now things are starting to work, this is how flash photography works. I have two different things that I'm taking care over, the amount of light that I'm adding to the scene and the ambient light that's already in the scene.
I control the amount of light that I'm adding to the scene simply by adjusting controls on my flash to not shine as much additional light into my picture. I control the ambient light by adjusting the exposure on my camera. There are a number of different ways of making these two adjustments. We're not worried about that right now. What you need to understand right now is that every flash picture is composed of these two different exposure components. The exposure that yields a certain level of brightness in your ambient light and the amount of flash that you are adding to the scene.
So what we have done here is to, is to balance those two elements. So that I get nice detail in both places. What's great is that, in addition to allowing me to present a nice looking image, it also gives me this whole new range of creative control. Maybe you liked it better with that in limbo. Fine! You know how to take that down and just adjust your exposure. I can do what I'm supposed to do as a photographer and try to control the viewer's eye through the picture by balancing these two things in different ways. That is going to be the core take away from this course for you I hope, is an understanding that a flash picture is made of these two different parts and that by balancing them in different ways you can create a dramatically better image.
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