Flash Photography – A helpful guide to why – Part 2

For Jasmine, because she demanded Part 2. But it’s not complete at all, there will be a Part 3. However, look for the overview here in Part 1


We’re going to use the example of a Speedlite, or Speedlight, or Speed Light, depending on what brand of camera you have and who manufactured the light itself, it’s all the same.

We are going after a few different Modes that you may or may not have.

  1. TTL
  2. Manual
  3. SS/HSS

TTL stands for Through The Lens. Generally your camera and light are going to work together and give you proper exposure. This is a great way for beginners who are doing a lot of shooting in different environments and are just wanting to wing it and get light. If you aren’t shooting your camera in Manual mode while you light is in TTL, you might have some issues. Any automatic or Aperture/Shutter Priority modes can cause some odd over/under exposure in photos because the both are going to fight with each other to correct one another.

Manual is exactly like it sounds, you’re doing all the calculating yourself. This is where you have freedom and more importantly, this is where you have all the control. This is where you will spend a lot of your time.

SS/HSS is Speed Sync or High Speed Sync. This is more of a setting for getting dialed into doing some fun portraits outdoors, but it’s like it sounds, it allows you to shoot above the general range of most lights that sync up to 1/250 shutter speed. We’ll get more in depth with this later on.

They key is experimentation with all the settings to fit your needs or your preferences, we live in a digital age, taking test shots is ok, they don’t cost you anything.

Ok we got all that out of the way, so have fun!

Wait, we didn’t actually talk about using the flash!

So, now you have been playing with these settings, let’s do what we came here for: How to use that flash!

We will go over a few different ways to use your flash, now the type of flash you have will be different, but this will generally cover about every speedlite type flash there is.

  • Bounce That Light Off Something
  • Diffuse that harsh Light
  • Ambient Light? More Like Second Light Source!
  • TTL and You, A match Made in Heaven (almost)
  • The More the Merrier!

Bounce that Light Off Something!

Ok, the reason why you have this light is to not use the stupid straight on flash that you have on the camera already. It’s kind of pointless to point the speedlight toward your subject, that’s how you get the, “Family portrait at disney in 1997 with a disposable flash camera” look.

What you need to do is look at the surrounding area and figure out what you can use to “bounce” the light off of. Does your flash head rotate all the way around, point it away from the subject and let TTL do it’s work. This will give a warm and shadowkilling shot that will look professional.

That’s a taste of the rest of the information to come, for now this is all I had time to get to. In part 3 we’ll talk about diffusing light, working with second light sources, gels??!?!, and other fun tricks to work with. Until then, leave a message or hatemail for not finishing the rest of the bullet points.

Sorry, writing takes time, and I just wish I had more time a day. (For those wondering why I don’t have time, I’ll write about that too eventually… when time permits)