Learning Speedlight

in #photography4 years ago


If you know anything about me and my photography, you know I mostly use available light, or at least something I can set up and see all the time. I despise flash. I don't get it, I don't want it, I don't need it. And I make it known.

I can admire photographers who do the flash photography well, like Terry Richardson and the late Jouko Lehtola, but it's not my style to use it myself. When you can see the flash in the photo, it's often very very ugly, but it can be used as a tool for expression. I get that. But I don't like it for myself. You can also use flash in a way that makes it really nice and soft and all that, but I still don't like it because I can't see it.

When you look for the light, see it, then capture it, you are always one step ahead. With a flash, you can't see it before you take a picture, so you are one step behind. Such bullshit.

What I love most about photography is seeing the light that is already in there, and just capturing it. Sometimes you need to look for it and circle the subject to get the best light, but there it is, available for me to use. Everything that is more than one camera and one lens, I usually consider as a waste and only hindering my process. I don't wanna carry a tripod, several lenses, filters, speedlight, reflectors etc.

But guess who is a photography student and forced to learn all about speedlight photography. Let me tell ya, I was not happy about this. I knew it was coming and tried to prepare for it but oh boy yesterday was HARD. We were learning the different ways you can use one speedlight, on top of camera, or off camera, pointed different ways, reflected from a surface and using a soft box. I was so overwhelmed and I didn't get even one usable image from those tests. I was so so so bad. I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I'm used to being good, great really, so my ego was not happy.

I was send home with a loan speedlight and we got quite a lot of homework, 5 images being with speedlight. I shot all evening yesterday and half the day today, pissed off about the whole thing, trying to get something good. I'm gonna do 5 very different type of images and styles to make the most of the stupid light I hate using. This is not FUN!

The picture above is from my third flash test, where I wanted to just use the flash as an addition to natural light, something really soft and almost undetectible, coming from almost the same direction where the window was. The only benefit I found was the catch light on the eyes, and filling in shadows, which I think destroys an image for me. Not worth it in my opinion, but I'm satisfied with the final image.


This picture you already saw yesterday and I had a very clear vision on what I wanted from it; backlit and with atmospheric spray, and I made it happen. Only took three hours, 250 tries, some brain damage, epileptic fit and lungs full of fake fog. Originally this photo was meant to be a behind-the-scenes shot but I ended up liking it the most. I can make a few more of those shots and show in additional post.

I also spend a couple hours creating a bit of story with a straight on camera flash, I'll share that later today once I finish the pics.

I intend to create 5 great images, show those and then be done with the flash, until the teach forces me to use it again. Cue the "Can you see now how amazing and fantastic and useful a flash is!?" from my teachers and schoolmates. No. NO!


I see you got some movie scene pictures going on gurl! :O
I'm digging it! <3 :)

Sounds like your not ready for the joy that a great flash photo will give you. ( you can fully control the light)

“The master will come when the student is ready “

When you look for the light, see it, then capture it, you are always one step ahead. With a flash, you can't see it before you take a picture, so you are one step behind. Such bullshit.

I think this would depend on experience, like a basketballer taking a shot and backpeddling because he already knows it is going to go in out of the hand.

I love combining flash with FULL sunlight outdoors. When you're going for low key images, flash isn't very helpful. When you're doing fashion, glamour, or documentary style images flash will let you tell the story in other ways.

I think you'll like flash a lot more with a grid modifier. It creates a powerful spotlight with feathered, softer shadows.

I just really prefer black to be black so flash for me kinda kills that. If I feel like I need a bit of fill somewhere, I think a reflector is more than enough for that purpose, and I can see what it does!

Hmm, googles grid modifier. I’ve been in photos where there was a grid on a softbox, but you can add a tiny one on flash?

Yes, you can get a little metal grid which attachs with a rubber band to the flash head.

It works really well. :)


I captured this image using that sort of a light modifier, one was on a stand, and one was on a table just out of shot.

This is 100% artificially lit in a 1920s movie theatre parlour. The only thing I hate is the obvious shadows across the face and the wall in the background. Should've had the flashes slightly further away.

I’m not a fan of that look. It looks too artificial. I’d gone for a single harsh light from quite high up for that photo and made it super dramatic. But personal preference, as always, and I’m extremely picky.

The mustard coloured walls lead to that effect and where the bounced light has gone around and around.

We're not used to that colour of light, and the colour cast in the highlights and flesh is what leads to this artificial and unnatural look.

Speedlights are harsh lights by their nature. They can carve devastating shadows into subjects when used well

I had missed this post!
Nice shot!
Although it was challenging to take the right photo, I would say it was worth it ;)

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