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Flash Photography – A helpful guide to why – Part 1

Ok, first, get a lengthy trench coat, wear nothing underneath and then when someone is least expecting it, jump out from a bush or from around the corner and expose yourself! (DON’T EVER DO THIS).

So, you want to learn how to use your Flash. First we need to get a handle on some basics about your camera and how light works with it.

Shutter Speed
Aperture Size
ISO (kind of)

Without going deep into details of individual walkthroughs for all the nuances of a camera (those are to come), we are going to focus on the factor of light with both of these:

Shutter Speed is how long your camera’s shutter stays open when you press the button. So in the short and sweet, the longer your shutter is open, the more light hits your sensor to take the photo!

The slower the speed, the more light, the faster the speed, the less light.

Pretty simple.

This will bring us to the next item:

Aperture Size!

“But I don’t have anything on my camera that says Aperture Size!”, you exclaim.

I understand, this is the magical F/*insertnumberhere* setting.  They are also known as F Stops.

Kind of like you eyeballs, think of Aperture or F/Stops as your pupil. When there is a lot of light, your eye constricts the pupil to a pin drop and lets as little light in as possible to get the full image of life around you. When it’s dark, your pupil expands to let in as much light as possible to get the image you need to see.

That’s just what F/Stops are. The lower the number the more light comes in, the higher the number the less light comes in.  There are a few other fun things that happen with wide open apertures that we will go over as well.

And ISO, I say this is kind of important, because it can be used to brighten your photos, but too much ISO, you end up getting Noise. Any of you that have watched my live streams, you always hear me complaining about noise on some of my older photos. Noise is annoying.

Ok, so that was a quick overview of 3 components on your camera to get ready to use flash photography.

Well? Now what?



Before we dive right into the flash and what the numbers do on the flash, let’s go over why you want to use it. Some people go crazy and say flashes ruin photos because it takes out all the natural soft light or creates weird shadows or makes things look to sharp.  

I say this, “You’re doing it wrong”.

There are tons of reasons why you might want to use a flash, either your typical hotshoe speedlight (that can be used remotely off camera if needed with a few accessories) to your big bulky studio mono Strobe lights and everything in between.  

So, some reasons you might want to use the flash in the first place:

  • Poorly Lit Interior Shots
  • Detailed Indoor Shoots for Events
  • Outdoor shoots where your subject is just poorly lit in a well lit environment
  • Fill Flash to overpower the sun or a heavily backlit subject while Outdoors
  • To stop environmental color spill (that’s my own term) from leaking onto the subject
  • GELS

Stay checked in for the next part where we go over The Flash itself.

This is a new ground for me, I will be trying to get more together in terms of examples with photos, diagrams, etc. But for now, just some easy text to go over. There is a lot to do, and thank you for coming with me on this journey.

Stefan Glazer
Stefan Glazer

Author, Photographer, Artist, Pug Dad, Podcast Host, Teacher, Friend

Articles: 210

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