A dedicated flash.
By Eugene Struthers
A dedicated flash.
I presume you want to go on to shoot like a professional. Why else would you be here. To achieve professional quality results, I would recommend purchasing a dedicated flash unit. They will be one of those expensive purchases that will pay off in the long run. Once you start doing Freelance assignments.
What are the benefits.
1) If it is mounted onto your camera. Because of its height, you will get less red-eye shots
2) The flash can be removed to create a directional light source
3) You will be able to aim the flash in different directions.
4) It gives you total control of your lighting source creating a higher quality of light.
5) It adds depth and dimension and will give your images a professional look.
6) They are user-friendly and do most of the work for you.
To achieve the above, without stating the obvious. You will need to take the dedicated flash unit off your camera. This way as you hold (place the camera on a tripod) you are able to create directional lighting. This will allow you to cast the light from various angles. Letting you branch out and be artistic rather than having the straight forward flat light from the front of the camera. The light that you will cast using a dedicated light flash unit will be more flattering and experimental. You may want to purchase a separate flash stand. A flash sync cord or wireless remote can be used to connect or trigger the flash. If you want to move your images on to have a professional quality. A dedicated flash unit for applied directional lighting is your answer.
Getting professional results.
How do the professionals make the flash look like natural light.
You want to create light from a flash that will match and blend in with the surrounding ambient light around the model. You want the light to mesh with the other available light so that it is not noticed to the untrained eye. Yes, you can use a flash outdoors as well. If done right, you will achieve high quality images. This is how it is done. Do not touch or alter the settings for your camera's aperture (f-stop) or shutter speed. You will need to lower the power output from your dedicated flash unit so that it matches the surrounding light. By diffusing the light and then taking a test shot. You will notice that your flash has overpowered the existing available light. We expected it to do this. Now turn to your flash unit and lower the output power by one stop and take another test shot. Preview the image on your cameras LCD screen and verify if a flash-light is noticeable or present /obvious. If it is, lower it half a stop and then take another test shot, doing this several times until there is enough light on your model. You want the light to look natural and real. It usually takes me about five to eight tries to get a balance between the surrounding ambient light and my flash-light being perfect. Give it a go, you will laugh how easy it is.
What mode should you shot in.
You want to shoot like a professional and you require the knowledge to do so. So let's lay the information out for you to decide for yourself.
Every profession has a set list of requirements and guidelines. Whether you stick to these is totally up to you. But to save time and push you in the right direction. I will try to guide you myself. If you are out and about outdoors. I would recommend Aperture Priority mode. As it makes controlling depth of field much more easier. But while you are in the studio, you want to have full control of your cameras shutter speed and aperture. So when you use a flash and any other studio lighting. I would recommend using the manual mode. And as I explained in my "How to use a light meter" in the Studio section here on Glamour-photography.co.uk. Your light meter with give you the exact information for these two settings for you to input into your camera. But in case you don't have a light meter. Here are a few suggestions to get you on your way to capturing professional looking images. To capture professional looking outdoor portraits, you want to direct full attention to your model and her face. Yes her face! You want to minimize any distraction in the background and you want to indicate a separation between the two. This can be done by creating a shallow depth of field. This is done by turning your cameras mode button to Aperture priority. Set your camera's f-stop to either the lowest or second lowest f-stop you can get on your camera. By using these low numbers you are in fact throwing the background out of focus putting all your focus on the model. This technique is used for outdoor portraits by professionals. If that fails, and it probably won't. You can always try turning your f-stop to f5.6 and input a shutter speed of 1/60 of a second. When necessary change the aperture and shutter speed slightly. Don't do anything else other than maybe move the model into a better outdoor light source or increase the ISO setting.
Not sure what mode to shoot in.
Manual (M):-If you plan to shoot in a studio with strobes. You will need to shoot in this mode to set the aperture and shutter speed yourself. If it is done in Aperture Priority or Shutter speed mode, you won't get a proper exposure.
Program (P):-Shoot in this mode if you are not prepared but need to capture an image without the flash popping up. This is ideal for when you need to capture a specific image and don't want to mess around with any of the settings.
Aperture Priority (AV):-This is recommended for both landscape and portrait photography. As it gives you control over your background. Allowing you to have it in or out of focus. Your camera will automatically assign the correct shutter speed to match the aperture you input.
Shutter Priority (TV):-Recommended by professionals and amateurs for shooting sports or action shots. In circumstances where you need to freeze the action in order to capture it. This mode will allow you to shoot in very high shutter speeds as long as you are in enough available light i.e. bright daylight. Your camera will automatically assign the correct f-stop for you to achieve the correct exposure.
Which ISO should you use.
To achieve the lowest amount of noise (grain) and get sharp, crystal clear images. Set your cameras ISO to the lowest possible setting. We only increase the ISO once lighting conditions diminish or are lowered. In conditions of normal daylight such as daylight or brightly lit environments set your ISO to 100. Once you raise the cameras ISO to 200, this will allow you to use the camera in a little lower light and still get a sharp image. But as I mentioned there will be a trade-off with image quality as noise will then be introduced. At an ISO of about 400 you can hand-hold your camera in even lower light but then your image will have a lot more noise visually present. So basically it means this. The higher the ISO, the lower light you can handhold your camera in. But as explained, this will also increase the level of noise you will get in the image. Set the ISO speed (Imaging sensor's sensitivity to light) to suit the ambient light level. When you increase the ISO speed for low light, a faster shutter speed can be used and camera shake will not occur. You will notice that the effective range of your flash will also increase.