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Tips & Tricks

To Flash or Not to Flash? That Is the Question (Joe McNally Answers)

By Hanssie on September 6th 2014

We all love natural light photography, right? The buttery goodness of light from the Earth’s largest light source – there is nothing like it. But there are times when natural light is not enough and you need to bring in another light source to capture the look and feel you want in your image.


As a photographer, you not only need to know how to use light but when to use (additional) light. In the Adorama sponsored video below, Joe McNally shows us two different situations of the same event – one where he used off camera flash and one without. In the first image, Joe talks about being a part of the scene, in the middle of the revelry and the necessity of freezing the action with the use of flash in a technique called ‘flash and blur.’ In the other image, Joe retreated to the edge of the scene, freezing a quiet moment and using the ambient light to capture the moment without intruding.



Gear Used

Nikon D4S 16 Megapixel HD-SLR Camera Body
Nikon SB-910 TTL AF Shoe Mount Speedlight Flash
Lastolite Joe McNally Ezybox Speedlite Plus for Shoe Mount Flashes

Check out the video below:

To learn more about mastering natural light, be sure to check out the SLR Lounge Natural Light Couples Workshop DVD with hours of education on not only natural light, but planning, posing and post processing as well.

[Via ISO1200AdoramaTV on Vimeo]


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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Rafael Steffen

    The other day I show a great portrait at ISO 800 at 160mm at 1/40th of a second and it come out amazing!

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  2. Anthony McFarlane

    Great photos from Joe. I have not mastered shooting 1/16 at 155mm and getting that detail. But I am working on it…

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    • Jesse Rinka

      I agree….that’s quite a slow shutter to be able to hand hold. I’m assuming it’s the 70-200 VR II which will indeed allow much slower hand-held shutter speeds but still, 1/16th….that’s pretty tough.

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  3. Chuck Eggen

    Thanks Joe.

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