OK, so a few weeks back I posted about flash and how it’s best used in daylight to avoid it looking too hard. That said, the kit flash that you pop up on your camera is always going to run the risk of being a bit harsh, simply because it’s position ensures it will be firing straight on at your subject. Now that’s not a problem if that’s the look you’re gunning for – Arthur Fellig, AKA Weegee, the famous NYC news/crime photographer, used a hard flash to shocking effect to maximising the brutality of his dark subject matter. (If you fancy buying any of his work, you can find the images below and other vintage gelatin prints at stevenkasher.com.)
But what works for bloody shoot outs and dead gangsters might not rock the average portrait shot of your nan, which is where an external flash and wireless trigger come in.
The techno-duo get around the problem because you can position the flash at a far more flattering angle to your subject and then fire it remotely using the trigger.
Something like this Yongnuo YN685 Speedlite and 622 Wireless trigger pairing is just the ticket.
Available online for around £110 for the two. So not cheap. However, it’s a TTL (through the lens) external flash; which means that it’s remotely controlled by the camera and will self-adjust depending on your chosen camera settings. Additionally, if your camera supports HSS – high-speed sync – it’s a particularly good buy, as the remote flash will work at any shutter speed up to 1/8000s. Without HSS capability, you will find you are probably restricted to 1/200s or so.
Additionally, if your camera supports HSS – high-speed sync, the Yongnuo is a good bit of kit to have, as the remote flash will work at any shutter speed up to 1/8000s. Without HSS capability, you will find you are probably restricted to 1/200s or so.
HSS comes in particularly useful when using flash to fill-in shadows in very bright conditions: so when you need to use a very fast shutter speed or risk over-exposing shots. Without HSS, if you wanted to use flash you would be restricted to using a shallow DOF, 1/200 s/s and ISO 100 – and if it was still too bright your only other option would be to use an ND filter to try to compensate.
USING EXTERNAL FLASH – CRIB SHEET
* Set up shot using light-meter and take a baseline shot.
* Add flash and play around to work out the angle of flash and whether or not you want it dispersed/boosted etc. (The flash above has a handy little built-in disperser/reflector that you can pull out when you need it. )
* Take another test shot and see whether or not you need to alter the flash compensation settings to get more or less light.
* Increase or decrease shutter speed, depending on whether or not you want a darker or lighter background.
Much as I would love to show you some shots taken with external flash, as I haven’t got one I can’t. Before I can spend £100 on a flash I need to buy a telephoto lens (I’m still just relying on the kit lens that came with the camera) hence the post title. Donations or freebies gratefully accepted. Canon, I’m looking at you…
In the meantime, if you want to see some superb examples of just what you can do with Auto FP High Speed Sync, have a nose at this article by Dave Black on the Nikon USA site. You can see more of Dave’s varied portfolio at daveblackphotography.com.