It’s no secret that on-camera flash is harsh and can be very unflattering, this is true of built-in camera flash as well as add-on speedlights. This is why so many educators preach about off camera flash and how to do it, in most cases, getting the light source off your camera is thought to be paramount to improving its look. But what if you can’t take the light off your camera for whatever reason or another, what can you do to soften your on-camera light?
This is the review that almost didn’t happen; and we have pretty much no one else to blame but ourselves.
The Phottix Indra 500 TTL was announced back during Photokina 2014, and we got our test unit back in December. Phottix’s reputation is associated with delivering products that are affordable, reliable, well built, simplistic, and effective. And when the company stated that the monolight included TTL capabilities with both Canon and Nikon cameras in one monolight plus lots of creative controls offered with other lights, it seemed like an immediate win-win situation.
Then the unit came in: and what I didn’t know at the time was that my 5D Mk II was slowly on its last legs. Additionally, we didn’t know that the first version of the Odin trigger (used the transmit and control the light) didn’t work so swimmingly. Instead, we switched to the Canon Rebel SL1 and the Canon 6D–additionally we used the Odin version 1.5. When these switches were made, we had pretty much no problems; which a high emphasis on pretty much.
We played with the Phottix Indra back around Photo Plus 2014, and found it to be a great deal. In a single package you get a light that is both AC and DC capable, has TTL transmission for both Nikon and Canon (with the possibility of Sony coming), manual light control, stroboscopic mode, an adjustable modelling light, ports for other transmitters like PocketWizards, and a well built body.
Despite how incredible the Phottix Indra 500 TTL is, it’s still not the perfect monolight–but it’s possibly the closest thing to it on the market.
The Profoto B1 500 TTL already thoroughly impressed us with its 500 watt seconds of power (enough to even overpower the sun) and Profoto is making it even better with a new firmware update unlocking high-speed sync. With the HSS upgrade installed, Profoto claims you’ll be able to shoot with shutter speeds as fast as 1/8000 of a second to really capture freeze frames of action shots.
The advantage of high-speed sync is it gives you more control over the exposure, effectively allowing you to freeze action or completely remove ambient light. However, HSS also introduces a host of problems as lighting manufacturers made sacrifices in quality while only focusing in power and speed.
Profoto claims it’s managed to avoid all the pitfalls of HSS thanks to its B1 system, which provides the more and better-balanced lighting than ten speedlights. Now paired with the fast, powerful, and consistent capabilities of Profoto HSS, B1 user will be able to capture sharp action stills even in mixed lighting conditions without picking up any motion blur from the ambient lighting.
The Profoto HSS firmware update is available on this website for both Canon and Nikon B1 users. Once installed, B1 users will be able to activate HSS mode through a simple button-press without needing to change out the blub or making any other changes to the off-camera flash.
When you’re first getting started in lighting, you’ll probably have the very basics, which could be a single speedlight or single monolight with no umbrella, softbox, or anything else like that. There are many, many ways to make the best of a very minimal situation as long as you’re in the right environment or you’re in the right shooting situation. And even then, you can always make things work for you if you can just think a bit differently and creatively.
This is how you make the best of a single speedlight–and this guide is designed for beginners.
While some photographers will tell you to take the flash out of your camera’s hot shoe, others love using it in that position. No matter what you’re doing, the only thing that matters is making sure that the light looks beautiful. This can be done with the flash on the camera or off ot it and the way to do it is usually with a flash modifier of some sort. But there are also a couple of tips and tricks that you can use to make it look even better.
Here are some of the best flash modifiers for your speedlights (speedlites) along with some tips on how to use them.
Hot shoe flashes, known as speedlites (or speedlights) are incredibly capable little flashes that can put just the right amount of light in the right spot. While it’s a very well known fact that studio strobes can deliver much more light output, they aren’t as portable or nimble as speedlights. However, there is much more that you can do to get more out of them just by tweaking some settings in your camera or working with it in a different way.
This is how to get more out of your speedlight.
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“I’m about to do something that I really hate to do for the sake of art.” I said to Amanda as we had our first shoot the other night. Of course, what I was talking about was how to conquer mixed lighting–and as an actress and theatre tech she totally understood. When working with flash lighting (daylight) and ambient street lighting in Brooklyn (more orangish in color) it can be a bit of a pain to create a beautiful image.
My initial idea was to light her with an Octabank and set my exposure so that the output from the flash is the key and ambient orange lights would provide a sort of interesting fill that would complement her skin tones. After fumbling with my Octabank (which was misbehaving) I decided on another approach: putting the flash almost right next to the orange light source (which is coming from a wall), setting the flash head zoom to the widest to make it cover the largest area, and having Amanda sit on the floor.
Then the exposure was set accordingly to drown out much of the ambient lighting and make the flash output the key light. In English, what this means is that I worked with a wide aperture and a fast shutter speed. In fact, this image was shot at 1/60th, f2 and ISO 400. At 7L45PM, 1/60th at ISO 400 isn’t going to do much for you.
The result was a light output that blended very well with the orange light and that later on just required me to push the white balance slider either to the blue or the orange to give the image dominance in one color or the other. Indeed, this is the most common mixed lighting situation that I’ve encountered, and it’s finally been conquered with minimal post-production.
So to recap: place the speedlight right by the other light source, make it larger, an overpower the ambient light using your exposures.
Give it a try for yourself, and check out two other photos after the jump.
Many think of flash as a tool you use only when there isn’t enough available light to shoot with. If it’s dark, simply pop up the built-in flash and make the photograph. Never mind that the photographs don’t look especially good. The direct, hard lighting a speedlight delivers may not produce fine-art, but at least it ensures that we got something usable. However, flash can be an incredible creative tool especially when you have the flexibility of an external flash to work with. It’s an investment that provides more than just power, but choices that can improve the look of a photograph. Continue reading…