New Workshop! Lighting 3 | Advanced Off Camera Flash

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You are watching a free tutorial from Lighting 101.
To view the entire course, upgrade to Premium or purchase it in the SLR Lounge Store.

Flashes are more than just fill.

My initial reasons were:

  • Reason #1: Flash is Awesome.
  • Reason #2: Flash is Awesome.
  • Reason #3,4 and 5: Flash is Awesome.

But of course, what kind of article would this be if those were the only reasons (although all those reasons are warranted!). Check out the video and article to see our 5 reasons to use flash.


Flash is awesome because you have the ability to control the light in any scene you are working in. Control of light is really the umbrella reason of why and how to use flash. Delving deeper, we will illuminate the 4 aspects of light and how to control each one.



Flash is widely thought of as a tool to create dramatic portraits, whether it be in the studio or on location. While flash certainly can be used in that way, it’s not the only way it can be utilized. If you look at the picture below, the model touching her hat looks a little dark and flat. There’s nothing technically wrong with this picture, but we can control the amount of light to improve the image.


To improve this image we strap on an orange gel (Color Temperature Orange or “CTO”) right onto our flash to imitate the orange glow of sunset. We also use a reflector to bounce our flash off of a reflector. This softens the light, creating a natural look. This is one way to enhance shots using your flash to control the amount of light.


In every scene you are going to have an existing ambient light. If this light is not flattering for your subjects or if the light is not powerful enough, there are ways you can improve your lighting situation with flash. The family below is a little dark, and if we expose for their faces the background will be overexposed. The solution here is to add in some light to get a proper exposure for their skin and the background.


The natural direction of light is coming from the right. To make this as natural as possible, we add our flash in the same direction of the existing light; in this case the sun. We use a reflector to direct the light where we want it to go, as well as add some softness to the image.


While there is no “best” quality of light, there are however many different ones for many different styles. Soft or Diffused flash lighting can be used to create flattering portraits. Hard or Direct flash lighting can be used to create punk/editorial or dance motion shots.


Specular flash lighting can be used to create a dramatic light for athletes. This hard light is used to define shadows. Soft diffused flash lighting can be used to direct and enhance the existing light in a scene.


There is not one right light, but this knowledge will help you accomplish which style you’re shooting for.


If you have seen our first workshop, Photography 101, then you will know that every type of lightsource has it’s own color. From daylight to tungsten to fluorescent; every light color is different. We use flash to creatively control or even fix the color of light in our shots.


In the bikini shoot above, there was nothing wrong with the orange glow of sunset to match that style. A change in flash color made the blues of the ocean and our model’s bikini pop more in the second image. This is an example of creative control over the color of light.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Matthew Saville

    Hmm, hosting these videos on Youtube? Is that only for the videos that have been publicly released?

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  2. Matthew Saville

    The written content going along with these videos is awesome! Are the quizzes / assignments still forthcoming in this area, or are they separate?

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