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Why use an external flash?

From: Foundations of Photography: Flash

Video: Why use an external flash?

When the popup flash on your camera isn't right for and let's just see what happens. Again, I'm just using in-camera metering.

Why use an external flash?

When the popup flash on your camera isn't right for your situation, you might want to move to an external flash. Now, I'm sure that an external flash is not any kind of big surprise to you, you've probably seen them; you may already have one. This is kind of a mid-size, external flash. There are bigger ones, and kind of a key defining thing between a flash of one size and a flash of a bigger or smaller size is simply output. A bigger flash is going to be able to throw out more light. That's going to give you more range, will be able to illuminate things farther away. It will allow you to simply pour more light into the scene in front of you.

But there are some other advantages to external flash. Ashley, could you hold that for a minute; Thank you. They can tilt, they can swivel. That gives me the ability to take my flash, and use it to turn something else in the room into a light source. And that can be a very powerful way of getting a particular type of illumination into your scene. I can add modifiers to the flash. Right now this flash has a bunch of velcro on it. That's so that I can attach certain type of diffusers and things that we are going to see later. Using colored pieces of plastics called gels, I can change the color of the flash.

That can be critical if I'm going to seen with different types of light sources and I want to make sure my white balance is okay throughout the scene. I've got a lot of special features I can use with some external flashes. So for example this external flash has the ability to let me use a faster sync speed. So, if I'm wanting to shoot with a faster shutter speed, maybe for depth of field variations or freezing faster motion, something like that. I also have the ability here to do multiple flashes in a single long exposure.

And one of the most useful things about an external flash is that I can chain bunches of them together, and create complex multi flash lighting situations. So, if you're into flash, external flash is really probably going to be where you find the most power. What we are going to use it for now is to see if we get a better key light than we were getting with our pop-up flash. I've got a hot shoe on the top of my camera, the flash just slides right into it. Later, we're going to talk about the buying an external flash and the difference between buying one specifically made for your camera and just buying one off the rack.

So I'm going to turn it on, and basically shoot the same picture that I shot before, and let's just see what happens. Again, I'm just using in-camera metering. And here's what I've got. Now, this is very interesting. I have no flash exposure compensation dialed in, but right away, I'm getting a better result than I did with my popup flash. Look at the difference between the light on her forehead and the light on her chin. There's a little more light on her forehead, than there is on her chin, and that right there is giving me a little bit more of a sense of, of shape of her face.

There's a little more depth there. I think the flash is maybe a little hot, I'm going to turn it down by one third of stop. Yeah, there we go. Now I'm not getting as much glare off of her forehead, but I'm still getting that nice extra highlight right around her eyes. What's going on? What's going on is that it turns out just that distance alone, just that extra what is that three inches of raising the flash up is giving me light that's not hitting her quite so full in the face. It's giving me a little bit of an angle, and that's starting to create some shadow and contour.

So I'm getting pretty close to having a good key light here, in fact I might be able to just get away with this. If I could move the flash up a little more maybe, I could exaggerate that further or just think of the possibilities, if I could even move it from side to side. By now you've probably figured it out that I'm leading you on here, and of course I'm going to show you how to do that. So we'll move on to that in the next movie.

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This video is part of

Image for Foundations of Photography: Flash
Foundations of Photography: Flash

40 video lessons · 20785 viewers

Ben Long

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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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