Low light

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by buns, Oct 6, 2016.

  1. So I am a self taught photographer. I know, how many times have you heard this. I have the "eye", but the technical part I struggle with. I have a Canon 40D, and I like to think I'm pretty good with natural light. I am restricted though because of this. I am restricted to outside and during the day time. Inside with little windows and night time I do not do because I do not know how to use light or really my flash the way I need to. I bought a flash two years ago and still don't understand how to use it. If the wedding reception is to be inside or at night, I always hire a second photographer to help out with that in case I just cannot pull it off. I just don't understand how it works. Is there a site anywhere that anyone knows of that not only can walk me through it but has some way to teach it too so that I can retain the information. I love photography, but just having an eye for it doesn't get you very far in this digital era.
    Thanks for your kind comments
  2. This Forum (photo.net) has a lot of resources, including the technical stuff and links to awesome other sites as well. I am also quasi-self taught, but reading all the posts in various forums here have helped me out amazingly. I also am in several facebook groups (I think one is called guide to OCF) If you like to read books- I'm sure amazon might have a thing or two about basic lighting principles (which apply universally).
    I would also recommend finding a mentor to help you make that leap- especially since you are taking big risks photographing weddings. I've seen posts in the 2nd shooter forums who was looking for an intern of sorts.
  3. Krista ... I like ambient light, too. But there are many times when you need a flash. Once you figure it out, you'll find that there are other times when you could have gotten by with just ambient light but a flash helped make the shot a whole lot better. The only way to get there is to jump in and not be afraid to experiment and make a few mistakes.
    I've always found that there's no perfect one-stop-shopping for anything let alone learning flash photography. Every tutorial is different and every photographer learns in their own way. So, I would recommend checking out a variety of online offerings. Some of them will make more sense than others. But it will give you a nice, broad view of flash photography.
    A decent video to watch, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dagB7uADL0, shows how your flash actually works to light up a scene and how you can control its light output manually.
    Another video from B&H is a beginner's guide to controlling light. You can find it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5v7ejTAIlA&list=PLd50LxFAnFDW5ec_dD8Wdr7LvwAkVBqdY
    One site, http://improvephotography.com/flash-photography-basics/, offers some basics about light and explains how flash units work and how to use them.
    Another site, http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101.html, offers a lot of information about different ways that flash photography - both on and off camera - can be used to create great images. It also covers other equipment you might consider adding to your pile of gear if you want to get all you can out of your flash.
  4. This among other things is something you can not learn by reading or asking on a forum. You need to just go out and practice and make mistakes. Thats how you learn. It took me 20 years to get where I am at today. Experience is something you can not buy or learn. You have to earn it. Yes, learning photography for which you charge money requires attaining experience more so than learning from a book or head knowledge.
  5. Krista,
    I found this book "Understanding Flash Photography How to Shoot Great Photographs Using Electronic Flash" https://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Flash-Photography-Photographs-Electronic/dp/0817439560 by Bryan Peterson to be very helpful to understand how to use flash. His book "Understanding Exposure" was also helpful. One drawback for you would be that he uses Nikon equipment. I found his explanation of how shutter speed and aperture affect ambient and flash to be useful regardless of equipment manufacturer.
    Hope that helps,
  6. Watch a few of the videos and read some books, but as was said, you gotta do it for real.
    By for real, I don't mean a wedding, I mean actually shooting something or an event (even a birthday party). Take a friend and a flash and try to shoot them inside a house. Learn to use the flash, and see how the flash works, and what the image looks like with different techniques. Then go to other places, a LOT of places, as the lighting will change based on where you shoot. Example, I like to bounce my flash, but I do NOT bounce in a Chinese restaurant, as the light bounced of the RED ceiling would throw a red cast over everything. You learn a LOT by making mistakes. Better to make this mistakes in a non-commercial shoot.
    Start slow, so you learn.
    A sponge can only absorb so much water, the rest runs off.
    gud luk
  7. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    the technical part I struggle with . . . I do not know how to use light or really my flash the way I need to. I bought a flash two years ago and still don't understand how to use it. If the wedding reception is to be inside or at night, I always hire a second photographer to help out with that in case I just cannot pull it off. I just don't understand how it works. . .
    For YOU what was the easiest way of learning when you were at school?
    Especially practical/technical subjects like Chemistry, Physics, Applied Mathematics. Etc
    A) – did you learn easily by reading a text book or
    B) - did you learn better (and quicker) when the teacher stood beside you and with an “hands-on" approach explained to you what was happening and how the theory applied in the practical situation?
    In my experience, those people who generally struggle with the technical side of The Craft, tend to learn easier and quicker the second way: (B).
    Maybe the money you are spending on a Second Photographer to shoot the Flash Images for you, would be better spent paying a competent and experienced teacher to teach you and/or you attending a practically oriented Wedding and Location Flash & Lighting Tuition / Class / Seminar.
  8. Hi, I don't think you are ready yet to take on weddings. I looked at your work and you do have what it takes. Can you go
    to local book stores, online stores and pick up a mess of books on portraits and lighting. Also posing techniques. Is
    there a local college that offers Basic Photography as evening classes? I'd say I have about 100 plus books. It's good to
    keep them and look at them every so often, because most of the topics, such as lighting haven't changed in many
    years. It's the same concept as it was 75 years ago.

    This may sound nuts and I've this this before, I rather see someone use a flash on every shot taken than no flash at all.
    The main reason are dead eyes. Dark eyes are dead. You want to see sparkles in the brides eyes. At high noon you will
    be in trouble with outside lighting, unless you use a flash. The lighting is just so flat that you must use your flash and try
    to use the sun source as a fill, such as lighting up the veil or her hair. The sun in most cases is not your friend and
    finding shade isn't always possible.

    Try to shoot with a flash everyday. Night and day. Learn how effective the AUTO modes Program modes and Manual
    modes work. For example the Auto and Program modes may only be good to about 8 feet, Then everything is
    underexposed. So you have to go to Manual mode. This is where practice comes in. You don't need people to practice
    with, just objects.
  9. Krista,
    Since you haven't picked up the technical details despite doing photography for years I think you might have just tried it the wrong way. My guess is that you would learn the best by taking photography workshops and classes, not online stuff, but face to face training. Second best would be to learn photography from watching DVDs.
    The good thing is that there are world class wedding photographers who have a very weak understanding of the technical details but still manages somehow to take great shots.
  10. I found it easier to read from books rather than websites
    (where I can always go back to the chapters related to
    the specific lighting to use for certain situations). I liked
    "speedliter's handbook" by Syl Arena.
    In my opinion, I don't think it's wise to try to shoot
    indoors or outdoors at a wedding without even a flash. I
    would think you're going to get unpleasant shadows on
    your subject's face without any fill lighting. When
    someone is paying you money to make sure you capture
    that split second moment, you shouldn't be depending
    on ambient lighting to make it successful.
  11. Krista, I'm checking in to see how the practicing is going. Let me know if you have questions. Bob

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