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Posted: 5/9/2018 2:23:14 PM EDT
I just bought a cheap speedlight from Amazon (link below). What are some things I can do to practice? What's the best way to learn how to use a speedlight? Are there any good videos or books? So far, I've just been taking pictures of random things indoors trying to make them look decent.

I'd like to be able to take decent indoor pictures, decent portraits and maybe even try my hand at sunset/sunrise pictures. My guess is that I should just keep using it to get better at it but was hoping for some direction.

Amazon Product
  • Powerful Flash with High Guide No.38(ISO 100, 35mm),supports M/MULTI/S1/S2 flash mode; Note: Don't support TTL and the camera menu setting Function
  • Super speed charging recycle:approx 2.9 s
  • Lighting times:100-1500 times;Flash time:1/200s-1/20000s;Flash control:8 levels of output control(1/128-1/1)
Link Posted: 5/9/2018 6:40:08 PM EDT
I'll be honest and admit I cheat on flash metering, but that's something you'll need to learn for a 100% manual flash. The ones I use are TTL then convert it to manual settings for tweaking as needed. That said, my lights do a lot of stuff different from most, so I'm limited on advice I can give.

1. Get rechargeable batteries like the Amazonbasics Eneloop clones, or Eneloops, etc.

2. Never shoot the flash straight at your subject, you'll get hot spots and harsh shadows that can really screw up the shot. If indoors, angle the flash up so it'll bounce the light off the ceiling and hit your subject from about 45 degrees or so. A lot of flashes have a bounce card that works in a pinch too. Same deal, but it'll toss a bit of the light straight forward for a little fill on someone's face.

3. Shoot in RAW, base ISO (lowest it'll go without going into modes like Lo1, etc), 1/200 or 1/250 is likely your flash sync speed but you can check in settings, and f/9 give or take. If you want a shallower depth of field, leave your ISO alone, same with shutter speed because going out of the sync range causes issues. Instead, open the aperture and lower the power of the flash.

4. For freezing action (water drops, brass in the air from a rifle being fired at night, etc) it sound backward, but less flash is good. Shorter light pulse duration. 1/64 power on that flash should have a pulse duration of 1/10000 of a second give or take for example. (see photo below) This was 1/32 power (I think) so around 1/9000 pulse speed on my flash (off camera), on a 3 second exposure . That way I'd get a mostly dark frame, but with the light from the flash filling in the subject and freezing the brass in the air. Mostly as a proof of concept. I'll be playing with it more later this fall.

5. Practice, practice, practice.

Link Posted: 5/9/2018 7:03:25 PM EDT
Link Posted: 5/9/2018 9:46:45 PM EDT
I got a Yongue (sp?) for Christmas, but I'll be damned if I know how to really use it.

Need to just bite the bullet and really make an effort to learn flash.
Link Posted: 5/9/2018 10:28:31 PM EDT
Practice bouncing the flash off of walls/ceilings to see what it does. A white piece of foam core/posterboard works great as a cheap bounce. By bouncing the light you turn a very small harsh source into a bigger softer source which provides softer shadows and generally more pleasing light.

Get the flash off of the camera. Buy a cheap set of the Neewer triggers and a cheap light stand. This will make a huge difference in what you can do. Then practice setting the light at different angles to your subject and bouncing the light on to it.

All I use are manual speedlights and strobes with an on camera remote wireless trigger. When I shoot three or four light setups I want control of every light. Just practice a lot to see the relationship between light position/bounce, shutter, aperture, and iso.

An easy way to really see what the light is doing is set up so without the flash your frame is totally black. Then use the flash and play with the power level to see what it looks like.

There are a ton of videos on single light portraits. Most people use softboxes but you can bounce the light to get close you will just have less control of the light.

In my experience the number one most important thing is get the speedlight off of the camera. Its key.
Link Posted: 5/9/2018 10:56:04 PM EDT
Here are some examples of using bounce for fill light from a job that I was a lighting assistant on for Eddie Tapp. He was using two Profoto B1's but you can do pretty much the same thing in controlled conditions with a couple speedlights. Notice the bounce boards used for fill light. Each set up used one light as the key, bounce boards as the fill and the second light for the background. He used a shoot through parabolic umbrella for the key light. The big thing was making that small source into a larger one.

This is a portrait I shot of ARFCOM's favorite youtube personality using two speedlights and a gray backdrop. The key light was camera left in a Neewer 32x32 softbox Second speedlight was up high and behind on camera right with a 7" reflector and 30 degree grid.

I could of used a bounce for the key and a bare speedlight for the hair light and gotten close. Modifiers just allow you to control and shape the light easier but you can do a lot with bounces and flags (flags block light to keep it off backgrounds or your subject)
Link Posted: 5/10/2018 8:50:38 AM EDT
Wow, thanks for all the information! Before I bought that light, I was watching tutorials on using them. Actually, I think someone in this thread posted the one video with the guy telling a story to remember the 17 different lighting techniques.

I"ve had the speedlight for over a week now but haven't had time to practice. I took a few pictures of my fiancee's cats indoors that turned out pretty good by bouncing the light off the ceiling on the lowest power.
Link Posted: 5/11/2018 1:13:58 PM EDT
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