Although not as important with on camera flash as with studio lighting (where the camera cannot capture images if the shutter speed is beyond the cameras sync speed), it is still important to not exceed the cameras sync speed ability where possible (though please read the high speed flash sync section below.)
Sync speed refers to the maximum shutter speed the camera can sync up to, though in fact you could use almost any shutter speed up to this and you’ll still capture a clear crisp picture (see flash duration).
With the built in on camera flash you are a little limited with what you can do as you cannot tilt or bounce them, the only option you have is to turn down the power of the units through the exposure value (EV). Turning this down obviously reduces the power of the flash but this means the flash doesn’t appear as harsh in your images. The downside, however, will mean that any subject that is more than six feet will not have any benefit from using the flash at all.
Many cameras have a control on the outside of the camera, unfortunately this varies between brands but it is typically one button press and/or rotating one of the rear dials.
If you intend to do any serious flash photography it is worth investing in some good equipment. We suggest looking at either an on camera flash like the Canon Speedlite 580EX Mk II, Canon Speedlite 430EX II or the other option is the looking at large studio flash systems like the Elinchrom Dlite 4.
Many brands now allow the ability to capture high speed flash at previously unthought-of shutter speeds this, in conjunction with fast flash duration, allows flash photography to capture action with pin sharp detail without any motion blur.
This is particularly useful for subjects that move extremely quickly like insects or humming birds where even extremely fast flash duration or shutter speeds aren’t enough.
Colour temperature is worth an article in its own right but in short different lights have different temperature which results in a different colour from the light source. Flash tends to have a colour temperature about 5,500K (Kelvin), this varies depending on the power output from the flash but, as an example, a normal household bulb is cooler with a temperature of about 2,800K. This, mixed with flash, would give an abnormal colour cast, resulting in a blue hue to the part of the image that was exposed to the flash. Ideally you should use colour gels, such as the Rosco Strobist gel set, this corrects the flash to match the colour temperature to that of the ambient light.
Rear Curtain Sync
This is not something that is used often these days; rear curtain sync means that unlike normal the flash fires at the end of the shutter duration. This can be useful if you want to capture motion up to the moment when the flash freezes the subject. It is fairly single purpose but can be a creative tool if used well.
Simply getting your flash off camera does wonders for your flashes ability to move its position around your subject and experiment with your results. Positioning the unit at a forty five degree angle from your subject gives a very flattering position with nice shading on the image, this is particularly effective when used in conjunction with a small soft box (see below).
This gives a huge amount of extra flexibility and the good thing is many cameras have this built in! If you have a Canon EOS 7D, Nikon D90, Nikon D300s or Nikon D700 they all have built in commanders enabling you to trigger and control the own brand flashes off camera.
For those of you with other Canon or Nikon products then look at either the own brand Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 or the Nikon SU-800 commander which offer these controls but with greater range than those built into the cameras.
There are of course several other options, either simply buy an extension cord such as the Canon OC-E3 or Nikon SC-28, otherwise check out Lastolite’s independent options which have the advantage of being longer and so more flexible than the own brand units.
Radio Triggers come in various shapes and sizes, the best three options at Park Cameras are from Hahnel, Seculine and Pocket Wizard. Hahnel Combi-T and Seculine T2D are no frills units that use both radio and infra-red to guarantee that the flash fires when you need it to, with a range of 50m great for starters.
The more advanced option is from Pocket Wizard. The TT1 Mini and TT5 Flex work in conjunction with the Canon and Nikon TTL systems allowing you to shoot in auto if you need but also gives the ability to shoot high speed flash off camera. Pocket Wizard is the most renowned brand for radio triggers and are used by professionals the world over.
By Park Cameras on 28/05/2018
Events at Park Cameras
Throughout the year, Park Cameras hold and attend a range of events. For photographers currently stuck indoors, as opposed to our events that are traditionally held in store or on the road, we are currently working on a range of events that can be held in the comfort and safety of your own home. In these uncertain times, there’s never been a better time to get to grips with your camera, and hopefully we can help achieve this. Find out more