Foundations of Photography: Flash

Understanding flash range


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Foundations of Photography: Flash

with Ben Long

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Video: Understanding flash range

Like any light, your flash has a range. It casts a conical-shaped light, but depending on how strong your flash is, that light will only go so far. Now, that should be common sense, but I guarantee that when you first start working with flash, you'll forget that flash range has a huge impact on the effectiveness of your flash in your final image. The problem is your eyes. They're very sensitive and incredibly well adapted to low light. If you go into a dark room and turn on a light. You'll likely see the far wall light up and you'll probably think, well this light is filling the entire room.
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  1. 1m 35s
    1. Welcome
      1m 35s
  2. 33m 1s
    1. Exposure revisited
      2m 22s
    2. How flash works
      2m 12s
    3. Balancing ambient light and flash
      3m 54s
    4. Shutter speed, aperture, and flash
      4m 11s
    5. Fill and key light with flash
      4m 13s
    6. Understanding flash range
      2m 47s
    7. Understanding flash modes
      5m 16s
    8. Flash sync options
      3m 2s
    9. Some notes about your camera's built-in flash
      5m 4s
  3. 32m 50s
    1. When to use fill flash
      1m 39s
    2. Using fill flash in auto and program modes
      2m 44s
    3. Fill flash in priority or manual modes
      2m 38s
    4. Using flash exposure compensation
      9m 14s
    5. Using fill flash to eliminate unwanted shadows
      5m 46s
    6. Using fill flash to darken a background
      5m 1s
    7. Using flash to supplement ambient light
      3m 48s
    8. Filling in for a bright sunset
      2m 0s
  4. 33m 53s
    1. Shooting a portrait with flash as the key light
      4m 27s
    2. Why use an external flash?
      3m 34s
    3. Flash power and recharging times
      4m 21s
    4. Flash zoom
      1m 45s
    5. Taking the flash off camera
      5m 35s
    6. Using a softbox
      5m 3s
    7. Balancing flash and window light
      4m 22s
    8. Paying attention to the light in the room
      3m 39s
    9. Flash and white balance
      1m 7s
  5. 54m 20s
    1. Bouncing flash to improve lighting
      13m 8s
    2. Alternative options for bouncing flash
      5m 12s
    3. Using slow sync with flash
      8m 50s
    4. Rear-curtain sync
      11m 54s
    5. Using radio controls to fire a flash
      4m 32s
    6. Working with manual flash
      10m 44s
  6. 25m 16s
    1. Building up to multiple flash units
      13m 3s
    2. Adding the second flash for fill
      5m 19s
    3. The third flash as a backlight
      6m 54s
  7. 7m 50s
    1. Which brand of flash should you buy?
      1m 27s
    2. Guide number considerations
      3m 13s
    3. Shopping recommendations
      3m 10s
  8. 42s
    1. Next steps
      42s

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Watch the Online Video Course Foundations of Photography: Flash
3h 9m Appropriate for all Dec 13, 2013

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • How flash works
  • Balancing ambient light and flash
  • Understanding flash ranges and modes
  • When to use fill flash
  • Using an external flash
  • Bouncing flash to improve light
  • Building up multiple flash images
  • Purchasing a flash
Subject:
Photography
Author:
Ben Long

Understanding flash range

Like any light, your flash has a range. It casts a conical-shaped light, but depending on how strong your flash is, that light will only go so far. Now, that should be common sense, but I guarantee that when you first start working with flash, you'll forget that flash range has a huge impact on the effectiveness of your flash in your final image. The problem is your eyes. They're very sensitive and incredibly well adapted to low light. If you go into a dark room and turn on a light. You'll likely see the far wall light up and you'll probably think, well this light is filling the entire room.

It is, but what you won't necessarily realize is how much less light there is on that far wall than there is right near the light itself. Again, this is because your eyes have incredible low light sensitivity, they can pull tremendous detail out of a dark, shadowy area. But the fact is, light intensity drops off very quickly the further you go from the light source. So, I have this light turned on right here. We're going to do a little experiment. You can do this experiment at home with, with any light you might have, a table lamp, anything. I'm just going to put my hand up here in front of the light, and I'm going to meter it with my camera.

I'm in shutter priority mode and I've set a shutter speed of a twenty-fifth of a second. I'm at ISO 400, you don't have to follow these particular settings. I just started with something that seemed right for the light that's in the room. I'm going to meter my hand. I'm just half pressing the shutter button, and it comes in at F 16. So that's about two feet from the front of the light. So F 16, I'm now going to follow the path of the light, and come out here. I'm not coming that far I don't know, I'm about you know, this far.

And I'm going to hold my hand up again and take another meter reading. And here, at the same shutter speed, I'm going to have five, six. That's a three stop difference. Five six, eight, eleven. I'm, I am I don't know. I am not real good at distances. This is what it comes down to. I am maybe, 15 feet from that light and I have dropped off three stops. That's a huge amount of fall off. Earlier, I mentioned that one of the ways that you can control flash intensity is with position of the flash. As you move the flash closer to your subject, you get more light on to your subject.

Well, as you can see, it's only 15 feet before I get a big change in flash intensity. This is a really critical thing to remember when you're setting up flashes, when you're trying to figure out where your lights go. It's a good idea to play around some in your house just with any normal lamp, start metering in different places. Measure out for yourself the change in intensity of a light source. Just so you can get a sense of how quickly light falls off. It's going to be really important once we start trying to control flash power, by positioning flashes in differnt places.

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