Jim David, leader of the Phoenix SMUG, led our meeting this month and taught us about his favorite topic – lighting with flash.
Specializing in commercial, adventure/lifestyle, and portrait photography, Jim brought his passion and knowledge of off-camera lighting to this meeting. Using PocketWizards to trigger his flashes (which he sets on manual rather than TTL for maximum control), he began his instruction by photographing the ‘five jumping men’ to show control and balance of the existing ambient light and flash.
Using aperture, Jim set the correct flash exposure on the men (subjects) and took a series of shots, changing the shutter speed for each image. This demonstrates how it affected the ambient light exposure in the image while the flash exposure remained the same. He explained the basic ways to control flash power are to:
1. Adjust the aperture setting
2. Adjust the power settings on the flash
3. Move the flash(es) closer to or further from the subject
4. Adjust the ISO – although he cautioned that this not only increases the flash power, but also increases the sensitivity to ambient light
He stressed that by using off-camera flash to control the light, it creates mood and texture in a photograph and helps create the story. Several of Jim’s photos were displayed to demonstrate these principles and to show how light and shadows are used to create drama in a photograph. He demonstrated a softbox, umbrella, snoot, and reflector to show other ways that light can be modified and used to create soft light or hard light, depending on what would be best suited for the subject.
In learning to use off-camera flash, Jim gave us these tips:
1. Know your camera’s sync speed (check your manual, because they are all different) so you know the capabilities of your flash
2. Know what your subject is and what you want to expose for
3. Know what will be your main light source – sun or flash
“It’s better to get the flash off your camera to create texture, shape, and form. Otherwise, you’ll have flat light when the light is flashing directly above your lens,” Jim explained to the group. Jim’s professional knowledge that he shared generated many questions and comments from the group and was an excellent source of information for those interested in off-camera lighting. You can find some of Jim's work on Facebook.
Submitted by the Phoenix SMUG Scribe: Gail Kiehlbaugh:
Gail is a hobbyist photographer living in Phoenix, AZ. She shoots with a Canon 7D and loves attending her SMUG meetings to soak in and learn all she can about photography.