Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fun with Flash

Just when I said in a previous post that flash photography wasn't my thing, I learned how to do something cool with my flash. If you've got an external flash like the el cheapo Nissin Di466 (or better), and a pop-up flash in your camera, you're in business! You can use your pop-up flash to trigger your external flash and achieve all kinds of different lighting effects.

You don't need any extra gear (except maybe a reflector/illustration board) and you'll have a host of brand new shooting/lighting techniques.

If you've got the gear mentioned above, you have a pretty basic two light setup. It works by setting the external flash to slave mode. (On the Nissin, you just press the button that says M/S1/S2 until you select either S1or S2, which stands for Slave 1 and Slave 2 respectively.) When you take a photo with your built-in flash, it will set off the external flash. Note, this works best indoors or at night. In daylight, it may not work.

So I hit YouTube and got a crash course in lighting. 

Here's my setup:
camera with built-in flash
Nissin Di466 flash for Micro Four Thirds
a tripod with play-doh (note: my flash fell to the floor twice despite sitting in the play-doh, so this isn't exactly safe; nothing beats a proper stand)
an illustration board (used as a reflector), various stools and boxes

Built-in flash
Here's a photo using just the built-in flash of the camera. 

External flash (Direct)
Better but still looks harsh.

External flash (Bounce)
Now that's much better. Pointing the flash up in a room with a regular ceiling helps the lighting immensely as the light doesn't hit your subject directly.

Clamshell lighting/Hollywood lighting
Flash is on the left side. Reflector on the right side. Built-in flash is set to Fill. A little overexposed, but this is just to give you an idea of the possibilities!

Rembrandt lighting
Flash is 45 degrees to the left of the subject, as well as 45 degrees above the subject. Reflector on the right again. Built-in flash is set to Fill.

Rembrandt lighting has a characteristic triangle-shaped shadow on one side.

Butterfly lighting
This time the flash is above the subject, in the middle. The reflector is below the subject, pointed at the face. Again, the built-in flash is set to Fill.

These are just some things you can do. Just experiment and have fun. Cheers.

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