How to use your flash

Photography is all about light. Unfortunately, sometimes there isn’t any available, or at least not enough. If that’s the case you can use a flash. Here a few helpful, simple techniques to get great light with your flash.

Step 1 – Block out ambient light

Flash has a very distinguished color temperature. If you don’t block your ambient light out, your images will have a combination of different color temperatures and will be virtually impossible to white balance.

  • Fast shutter speeds will help to block out the ambient light, but you can’t go too fast or you won’t be able to synch with your flash. So set your shutter speed around 1/200.
  • Now, set your aperture to something where your lens works great or you get the depth of field you’re looking for. For portrait shoots I’m usually in the f2.8 to f/5.6 range.
  • Finally, adjust your ISO until you can no longer see any ambient light in your image. Take a few test shoots until your images are extremely dark.

Step 2 – Set your flash and practice

Set your flash to ETTL (Canon) or an automatic equivalent. Then, attach your flash to your camera, or if you have some kind of wireless transmitters, to where you want the light to come from. If you don’t have a wireless transmitter, you should aim your flash in the direction you would like to get your light from, and use the bouncing light to expose your subject. I typically position my flash about 45 degrees and point it over my left or right shoulder, which produces a nice soft directional light. If you’re in an environment with no possibility to bounce your light of (extremely tall ceiling, etc.) you will need to use a flash diffuser or go for direct flash.