More experienced users will know that people just dipping their toes into the world of flashes and strobism often try to directly point their flash at a subject and hope for the best. That’s not always the best way to think about it. Direct flash will deliver harsh shadows on a subject, and if you’re going for that Terry Richardson type of look, then go ahead and fire away.
However, speedlites, speedlights and other hot shoe flashes are meant to be used differently. Keep this very quick list of tips in mind:
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This image of former Superbike World Champion James Toseland looks simple, but it’s not – a whole bunch of circumstances had to come together for it to work.
The lighting is from the top – it was shot during the middle of the day. Normally this would cause a lack of detail in the subject’s face, but the white walls all around has bounced beautiful soft light into all the right places (seen in the subject’s glasses). The dark, shadowed wall in the background is the perfect contrast to the subject’s face.
The woman talking to Toseland is reflected in his sunglasses: beware, you need to use an aperture small enough to capture the depth of field to both subjects. Using f/8 has given me enough depth for both people but kept the background soft.
Canon EOS 1D MarkIIN, EF 24-105L IS USM @ 97mm, ISO 320, 1/640th @ f/8, Aperture Priority.