Archivi categoria: photographytips

The Pros and Cons Of Speedlight Flash Photography

Lighting is the most important element of a photograph. It is essentially the only thing that a picture is truly made of. And it’s the quality and type of light that really sets a picture apart from the masses of imagery, or limits a photo’s ability to really captivate an audience.

One convenient means of shooting in low-light, indoor situations—or if you want to add some fill light to an outdoor location shoot—is to employ the use of speedlight flashes. Speedlights really shine (no pun intended) in some instances, but they can also lack in others.

In this article, I want to cover some of the pros and cons of using speedlights as off-camera light sources, as well as the unquestionable limitations of using these types of intermittent photography lights. You’ll also see a series of speedlight-only photos I recently shot, which highlight how you can make these portable light sources work for you.

Cons – A weaker, smaller light source with a narrow beam

In comparison to studio strobes, speedlights have a very low lighting output; even set to full power, they can only produce about 1/4 (or less) of the light emitted by the average studio strobe or monolight.

They also produce a very narrow beam of light. This results in hard edged shadows and a rapid falloff of light that doesn’t gradually taper into a nice, soft gradient. Unlike the more aesthetically pleasing, long shadows of low angle sunlight, the light from speedlights often ends up looking more artificial than larger light sources.

Additionally, the light being output from a speedlight often looks rather stark and displeasing (those narrow beams again). When compared to the softer lighting created by studio strobes, speedlights can make skin and other surfaces appear hard and rough.

Finally, you have to be very precise with your placement and positioning of speedlights to ensure the light ends up in the right place.

Pros – There’s a modifier for that

Based on the above points, speedlights are not the ideal light source for many types of photography; however, because they are so light-weight and portable, many photographers still like to use them, combining them with flash modifiers to try to combat the issues I just explained. These days there are many types of softboxes, umbrellas, and other attachments made specifically for use with speedlights.

The main problem with modifiers is that most of them will reduce the net power output by at least 25%. This can be a problem when you already have very little total light output to start with, so keep that in mind.

Speedlights can also add a lot to a photo as a fill light when shooting with ambient light, or when you’re in a dark or shaded area where the colors are looking a bit drab. This means using the available light as your main or “key” light source, and filling in the shadow with a speedlight to give your photos that extra bit of pop.

Finally, speedlights can also be very useful when you are on a shooting location with limited access to electrical power, or when you’re working in tight spaces where it might be difficult to set up larger strobes.

Make It Work

Despite all the cons mentioned above, the photos you see in this post were shot using only a group of 3 speedlights triggered remotely in a very dimly lit weightlifting gym.

For this shoot I was looking for an edgy, high-contrast light source to give the photos that sort of “hardcore” look. I also didn’t want my light to spread out too much, because I needed to isolate the subject as best I could from the environment. In a situation like this, speedlights are the perfect type of lighting.

I placed three speedlights on lightweight light stands and used a radio trigger to fire them. All the shots seen in this post were shot with a 70-200mm lens at an aperture of f/5.6 with ISO set between 100 and 200.

For my lighting placement on these shots, I positioned two speedlights either alongside or behind the subject. Then I positioned a third light high up on a light stand in front of the subject and pointed downwards to obtain a bit of frontal fill.

And there you have it. Using speedlights as your main light source can be very limiting, especially if you’re used to working with more powerful studio strobes, but it can be done. Just pick your situation and techniques carefully, and keep your limitations in mind.


About the author: Marc Schultz is a travel and commercial photographer who writes a blog about various aspects of photography during his free time. To read more of his writing visit the Marc Schultz Photography Blog. A similar version of this article was published on Marc’s blog.

What Lens Should I Buy? This Video Breaks Down All Your Options

“What lens should I buy?” It’s one of the most common gear questions that pops up in the PetaPixel inbox, and while there is no one-size-fits-all answer, photographer Peter McKinnon does a great job of explaining what’s out there and what you need to know to decide on your next lens in this informative video.

The video is titled, appropriately enough, “What LENS should YOU BUY?!”, and it tackles the problem in a very systematic way. First, Pete explains the three questions you need to ask yourself before making any lens purchase:

  1. Do I want a lens for photos or video?
  2. What’s my subject?
  3. What’s my budget?

Then he takes you, step by step, through basically all of your focal length options (explaining compression along the way), talks through aperture options, and dives into what lenses suit what styles of photography best.

The video is 14 minutes worth of advice that beginners in particular will benefit from greatly—a basic breakdown of what lenses are most commonly used for what style of photography, and which options are going to give you the best bang for your buck when you start out. It’s a great resource worth sharing with your favorite photography novice.

So check out the final video up top, and then give Peter’s rapidly-growing YouTube channel a follow if you like these kinds of tips and tutorials.

Broncolor’s Free ‘How To’ Section is a Lighting Tutorial Gold Mine

It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner, intermediate, or even a professional, you’ll want to give Broncolor’s free “How To” page a look. There, you’ll find nearly 100 pro lighting examples—beautiful photos, each accompanied by a gear list, description, and lighting diagram. It’s a tutorial gold mine.

The page consists of 98 (by our count) photographs, each broken down by the photographer who shot it. Want to know how this magazine-worthy wine photograph was captured? No problem. Curious what it takes to capture one glass of water breaking another at the moment of impact? Here you go. Need to light a simple, subtle portrait? You get the idea

Regardless of your skill level or the genre you’re interested in, if studio lighting is involved in any way this is a resource you’ll want to bookmark. Check out all 98 of the tutorials for yourself by clicking here.

(via Fstoppers via DigitalRev)


Image credits: Portrait © by Jessica Keller/Broncolor

Lighting Tips: How to Shoot Killer Product Photography at Home

We’re not entirely sure why, but product photography tutorials are coming hard and fast lately. So in case this DIY lightbox wasn’t good enough, and 360° product photography isn’t your thing, here’s a great tutorial that will show you how to capture killer reflective product shots on a sea of black.

The video tutorial was created by London-based photographer and cinematographer Tom Watts, and using the simple setup shown in the video he was able to capture a bunch of high-gloss product photos like this one:

A post shared by Tom Watts (@tomwattsdop) on

The setup is simple. First, Watts placed a glass table in front of a black backdrop, and added some black material underneath the glass to get a perfect reflecting surface. Then, he set up a big softbox as his key light, a fresnel kicker with some barn doors as a rim light, and a simple square “reflector” (read: cardboard cake base) on the other side for some fill.

You can see the whole setup in this screenshot from the video:

Using this, he’s able to get these product shots on all black with a great reflection to really make the final image pop. The results speak for themselves:

Check out the full tutorial up top to have the lighting setup explained step-by-step, and then subscribe to Watts’ YouTube channel for more videos like this one.

(via ISO 1200)

6 Tips for Photographers Who Want to Try Shooting Video

Photographers, especially wedding photographers, might be tempted to start playing around with video or even offering some video services alongside their still work. This short tutorial will cover some basic tips that will help you navigate the chasm between shooting photos and capturing video.

The video is the latest tutorial from Mango Street Lab, but since Daniel and Rachel aren’t videographers, they enlisted the help of their friends at White in Revery to take over and show you how its done.

You might remember White in Revery from their recent viral elopement video captured entirely on the iPhone 7, but this time around, they’re going to show you how they managed the transition from stills to video using DSLRs. In all, they cover six key pieces of this sometimes-confusing switch:

  1. Frame Rate – 24fps is cinematic, 30fps is like broadcast/TV, and 60fps is good for subtle slow motion. Use each appropriately.
  2. Shutter Speed – A good rule of thumb, make your shutter speed twice your frame rate. So 24fps = 1/48 shutter speed.
  3. Picture Profiles – Keep your picture profile neutral to preserve the most color and dynamic range for grading later.
  4. Focus & Aperture – Don’t go too shallow. Try to shoot between f/2.8 and f/5.6 for most scenarios so your subject isn’t drifting in and out of focus as you (or they) move.
  5. Sequences – Tell a story. Aim for three different perspectives, angles, or focal lengths per scene/shot.
  6. Stabilization – You can use tripods, monopods, or gimbals. Tripods are best for stable shots where your subject is doing the moving, monopods help keep things stable if you have to move, and gimbals will really up your cinematic game… if you can afford one.

And that’s it. They’re not ground-breaking tips or mind-blowing revelations about the art of filmmaking, but the 6 tips do cover 6 of the most common hangups that photographers run into when they switch from capturing photographs to shooting video.

Give the whole video a gander up top, and then check out more tutorials and demos from Mango Street Lab and White in Revery by following those links.