Foundations of Photography: Flash
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Foundations of Photography: Flash

with Ben Long

Video: Using a softbox

Picking up where we left off. This is a very small light source.
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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

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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
Ben Long

Using a softbox

Picking up where we left off. I have got my flash attached to my camera with an all camera sync cable, or hot shoe cable, whatever you want to call it. And I had found last time that I was liking just having my flash up above the camera a little bit. It's a pretty simple key light. It gives me some nice modelling on her face. There's a little more light on the top of her face than the bottom. That one that I just took looks a little hot, so I'm going to drop my flash exposure compensation down a little bit.

That's better. I like it a lot. I like the angle of the light. The quality of the light, though, is bothering me a little bit. Look at the highlight at the top of her forehead, or on her forehead. It's just a, a little noticeable, it's a little harsh. Same thing with the highlights on her cheekbones, and there's that dark shadow under her chin. This is a very small light source. I mean, physically it's not that big an area. As a light source gets bigger in surface area, the light that it casts gets softer, it gets more diffuse. If you've ever played with a flashlight, then you should know this.

The middle is really intense because it's such a small light source. Yeah, it's got some spill around it, but it casts a really hard-edged little circle of light. That's kind of what this is doing. It's making those highlights on her face, very small and pointy. If my flash head was bigger I would have a, a much softer kind of highlight on her. I would have a light that wraps a little bit more around her. I can't actually make the flash head bigger but I can modify it, and there a number of different ways of doing that. What I've got here are a couple of soft boxes. This is just a piece of white translucent material that the flash can shine through, and then some way of attaching it to the camera, in this case that way is velcro.

So, I've put some velcro tape on my flash; it actually came with the soft box. And then these just stick on here and this particular one's kind of finicky. You need about four hands to get it on quickly. So now I've got a much larger surface area. It's scattering the light. And it's going to make for a much softer light. You can see that when I fire the flash, nothing happens. So, it really scattered the light. Let's try that again. There we go. The whole thing lit up there. So I've got a bigger surface area. Soft boxes come in lots of different sizes.

There are lots of different ways of attaching them. In general, you'll find that there are gobs of different soft box options for your flash. There are just, in general, a lot of different flash modifiers you can put on. They fall into two different categories. Soft boxes, or diffusers, which diffuse the light, and different kinds of reflectors, which let you bounce the light off of a surface on the flash to create a softer more diffused light. I'm going to just stick this one on, which again - oh now I've done it - which just goes on with the velcro strap.

And gives me a larger surface area than this one. So hopefully that's going to give me an even softer light. And I'm going to go retake that same shot that I took before. So, my flash is going to go. Still in manual focus here. My flash is going to go above my head. Pointing down at her. But now, I've got this big soft box on it. And I'm getting a softer light. Look at the highlight on her forehead there. It's much more diffuse. Now you might be saying, that's not more diffuse. The light's just darker. What happened to your exposure? That's a very good question, what happened to my exposure, is the soft box itself.

It's cut some light out, so I need to crank my flash exposure, I'm going to go up two thirds of a stop and try this again. There we go. So that's a nice amount of light, with some of nice soft highlights on her forehead and cheeks. So, by making my light source bigger, I have spread those highlights out. They look less like a flash. They look less pointy in that way that we're used to. Particularly with on-camera flash. So this is a very simple way of getting flash pictures that look less flashy. Also, if you need to quickly get a portrait of someone It's hard to, in a hurry, it's hard to do better than what I just did.

Flash up above, on the soft box, pointing down. This is almost always a flattering light, it takes out any shadows that might be under the eyes, it just creates nice skin tone all the way around. Yes it does make her face a little less geometric, but it's still a very easy way of getting a flattering light. With my soft box on I can continue to play with different flash directions like I was before, and overall I'm getting a softer light all the way around. But I'm going to, for this shot, stick with this overhead shot.

The only thing I don't like about it is that shadow under her chin. It's really hard. You might have an idea about that already. It's a, it's a case where I need fill light. We're not ready to add it yet. We got some more things to learn. But for now, it's a good idea to start looking for a soft box, get it on your flash and start playing with those differences between hard highlights and nice, broad highlights like you get from a good soft box.

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