Flash in Class

I usually reserve the big flash talks for the fall Advanced Photojournalism class, but we had questions in all of the classes over the last few weeks, so we decided to play a bit during class. Part of this was initiated by conversations about the Flash Bus stop in Atlanta a few weeks ago, part of it came out of frustration with trying to master flash on their own.

There are only a few people who will say they love flash – I’m one of them. Working nights for so long I usually didn’t have a choice and I became an expert at available darkness photography. I blew a lot of exposures, got a lot of surprises and learned a lot in those dark 283 and Wein slave days. But kids these days, they have it so easy …

I promised them some resources, so here they are:

To start, download In A Flash – a short PDF tutorial I built a couple of years ago for my students. It’ll walk you through the very basics of lighting for portraits.

Once your familiar with that, head over to David Hobby’s site, Strobist.com, and start working your way through his Lighting 101 lessons. Take on one every few days and you’ll be much more comfortable with lighting and have a lot of knowledge.

Then, to melt your mind, head to your favorite bookstore and grab a copy of Joe McNally’s Hot Shoe Diaries. The things he does with flash will melt your mind faster than we used to melt the emulsion off of black and white prints with 283s on full power. (Don’t ask, I don’t know why we did it, we just did.)

Photos after the break, just for fun …

One light
One flash, up into the ceiling and dragging the shutter a bit to pick up some ambient behind Frances.
One flash, on camera, into a wall to the right which then bounces back on Wes.
One group
One flash, on camera, shot up and to the left into a big projector screen.
3610 jump
Shutter open for a few seconds, flash hand held off to the left and then fired manually.
Two lights
Two flashes, one on Cathryn and another hidden behind the iMac in the background and probably gelled.
Direct wide
Worst case scenario - flash on camera, shot straight in at Sarah. This is with the flash's zoom setting set to match the focal length of the lens (24 mm).
Direct zoom
Same basic set-up, but now the flash is zoomed in to give a more narrow focus to the light.

Mark E. Johnson

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