Flash Photography questions

I had an interesting email conversation with a good buddy of mine about photography and thought it would be helpful to share it with others who are interested in developing new skills in flash photography and understanding color temperatures:

  • Hey Kenneth! I was this quarter’s “historian”, basically the photographer. Great practice for actually doing photo stuff. It’s been a really interesting learning experience too. It’s one thing to have time to prepare and take photos, but doing people at a gathering/event is just such a different learning experience. I’ve learned that f/1.2 is awesome. And incredibly dangerous. Such a thin depth of field is ridiculous at times, and I wish I had microadjust. I’ve also started to realize just how good the low light perf. on the T2i is. Though I usually limit to ISO 3200, there are some really nice 6400 shots I didn’t think could exist. As much as I wish I could do RAW all the time, I realized just how easy it is to capture people’s awkward facial expressions. I’ve started using jpg and doing burst mode to avoid the single shot awkward facial expression syndrome. But interesting to see a still frame of a facial expression motion that humans don’t really notice. Mid-blink for example. I really have to figure out flash soon. I only got by this quarter because I could use f/1.4, and had what I considered fairly good ISO 3200. No question that flash is crucial. How’s your flash experience been?
Sounds like you are getting a lot of great practice! I like the “thrill of the hunt” at events and casual gatherings of cute kids. And haha, I totally know what you mean about awkward facial expression syndrome. I try hard not to get attached to any shot, and if there’s anything awkward about it, I feel it’s better to just throw it out.
Wow, have you been playing with f/1.2 lenses? I don’t own an 85mm or 50mm f/1.2 yet. But I always have my 50mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.8 for events like weddings, etc, where it’s likely to be dark.

Flash has definitely been useful and worth learning to do off-camera. I always bring my light kit these days for portrait sessions, both for adequate lighting and for creative lighting options. I’m going to bring my kit for a kids bday party in a dark Italian restaurant in about a week. You never know how it might come into play unless you bring it. For most of my work, I use these inexpensive gems: YongNuo YN-460 II. They are fully-manual flashes, so no TTL readings, but with the same light output as the much more expensive Canon 580EX II that I bought much earlier on (the 580EX does have a few special features that are cool, but I rarely use them). The YN-460s were so much cheaper that I bought 3 of them. =D I also use these Cowboy Studio NPT-04 Wireless Triggers, which work great. My favorite site for learning about flash is http://neilvn.com/tangents/ and I still have a lot to learn.

  • I’m also curious about your thoughts on light temps. I know white balance and all that, but some of the warmer settings I’ve been actually really worked well.
In terms of color temps, I agree that often I like portraits that are a little warmer. I guess that’s why there are gold reflectors and why many people like to shoot during the “golden hour.” =] A lot of it is definitely subjective, and the subject matter hints at what could work better. 
Here’s one recent portrait session of mine that’s mostly on the cooler side (especially indoors): http://www.flickr.com/photos/niftyken/sets/72157625588478944/

Here’s an earlier session that was mostly warm tones (partially influenced by the hot lights I was using back then, before I decided to use strobes):http://www.flickr.com/photos/niftyken/sets/72157624177868706/



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