This is a long lesson, so stay with it. I considered dividing it into two lessons, but I actually wanted to keep all this info together. You don’t have to read it all in one day. Break it up yourself so you can get a clear understanding of all this stuff.
Let’s first address why adding a strobe to your camera bag it important: 1. It gives you more light power to your image. 2. It gives you more control of the exposure of your image. 3. It can decrease your shadows cast off your subject from your pop up flash–you know those big ugly monster shadows on the wall behind your subject. 4. It makes you look cool like you know what you’re doing. 😉
Anytime you can also raise your light source higher than your camera, it will widen your light source in your image and will therefore, decrease your shadows behind your subject. Think about what the Sun does. I’m not going to break it down here, but think about where your shadows are in relation to the Sun’s position. Your strobe functions in a similar way.
Let’s now look at the strobe flash itself. When you’re purchasing one, look at a few specifics:
1. How much power does it have? Think about what you’ll be using it for. How much do you need?
2. Is it manual (meaning you determine your own settings)? Is it fully auto (meaning it works together with your camera settings and puts out the power it thinks it needs)? Or does it do both..work in manual mode and auto mode?
3. Does the flash head swivel? This is important for reasons I’ll address in a minute.
Here’s a look at a a couple of strobes I have:
It’s a strand of thread, not hair. Gross.
These work in manual mode and fully automatic mode. I can adjust the power settings how I need them or I can let it do the work for me and allow it to work with the camera settings accordingly.
Read your strobe instruction manual on how to increase or decrease your output. This is also determined by your own specific image needs. Do you need more light or less light? Swivel and tilt heads. Very important. Now. What about the swivel and tilt strobe head is important?
So you can determine which direction your light source will come from.
You may not want your light pointing directly at your subject.
How else do you point it, you ask?
You bounce it.
Re-read that, too.
That’s right, bounce your light from another target point: a white wall, ceiling, reflector, or even someone else’s white shirt.
Why would you do that? Crazy!?
To soften your light source and avoid that bright spot of light directly on your subject. Remember it’s all natural and keeping your image as real as you actually see it with your own two eyes.
Okay, I just changed my mind. I’m stopping here. This is just too much for one lesson and it’s such an important lesson, I want you to really get it.
Next week, I’ll touch on this abit more and post some examples of different lighting situations and the use of strobe in different ways.
But for now, go out and shoot someone!