Best resources for learning to use flash?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by DirtySocks85, Jun 19, 2013.

  1. macrumors 65816


    Mar 12, 2009
    Wichita, KS
    So I'm still fairly new to photography. I bought my first DSLR (a Canon T3i) last year in December, and I've been having a blast learning all sorts of new things. I was so excited to jump in head first that I did a lot of reading on the exposure triangle and shooting in manual mode before I even got my first DSLR, including reading Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. Within a couple of weeks I was comfortable shooting in manual mode for most situations.

    I have spent the past 6 months or so learning how to best use the equipment at my disposal, and one of the biggest hurdles I've still been encountering was how to deal with low light situations (so far I've been sticking strictly to my 50mm f/1.8 in such situations and keeping the aperture open to at least f/2.8). After feeling frustrated with the limitations of slow shutter speeds and big apertures in low light situations I decided to purchase my first speedlight.

    So I bought a Yongnuo YN-565EX because it seemed to be the best flash within my budget for my needs. It came in the mail today and I'm already having fun playing with it, and testing it in ETTL mode vs no flash to see what kind of shots I can get that I couldn't get before. I also got a cheap CowboyStudio transmitter/receiver set (I wanted to go PocketWizard, but just couldn't afford it at this time). I want to become proficient at using the flash both on camera and off camera, but I feel like using it in ETTL mode takes some of the control out of my shooting in the same way that shooting on auto did without a flash. I'm aware of Strobist, and I've read through most of their "Lighting 101" series, but it still all seems so much more complicated than the basic exposure triangle without a flash.

    tl;drIf I'm just starting out using an external flash and want to quickly learn how to use it manually, what resources would you suggest to get me rolling?
  2. MCH-1138, Jun 19, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2013

    macrumors 6502


    Jan 31, 2013

    Edit: Sorry, just reread your post. It may not click right away, but I still think Strobist is the best starting point. I would recommend rereading the Lighting 101 series and doing some of the exercises from Lighting 101 and 102.
  3. macrumors 68040


    Jul 9, 2012
    Mastering Canon EOS Flash Photography

    ISBN 978-1-933952-44-4
  4. macrumors 6502


    Jul 17, 2012
    Somewhere in the Delta Quadrant
  5. thread starter macrumors 65816


    Mar 12, 2009
    Wichita, KS
    Thanks for the helpful suggestions so far. I can't wait to dive in and tackle this challenge. I re-read some of strobist last night after I had my flash in hand to play with, and I get it a bit more, but ultimately I'm guessing that it will click by trial and error as much as anything. I'll look into those other resources this weekend as well.
  6. Zaphyrus, Jun 20, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2013

    macrumors member

    Jun 20, 2013
    First off, welcome into the photo world!

    When I started shooting, I would play with a flash light and hold it at different angles to see how it would light my object. I'd place printer paper in-front of it to diffuse it and just see how light acted. As stupid as it sounds, it's a great way to learn how light can work.

    As far as noisy images, try shooting at earlier times when the sun is about to set. You can lower your aperture or shutter speed to control the ambient light and darken up the background while using your speed lights to lighten up your object or foreground. You can make a image shot at dusk look like it's shot at night.

    A good thing to keep in mind when shooting with your speedlight/strobes: is that strobe lighting (flash/speedlights) is effected by your aperture. This works in conjunction with the power or f/stop of your speedlight. Whereas ambient lighting (or natural lighting) is effected by your shutterspeed. Both are effected by your ISO. So, when shooting only ambient light, this should be disregarded. Play around with this. Shoot a scene with your speedlight setup and take multiple shots witht he same setup, playing with your shutter speed, aperture and ISO to see how your light ratios work. It really gets you thinking about times of day to shoot or light source to get the right depth of field/sharpness.

    There's a nifty site called that can help you with this.

    DON'T GET FRUSTRATED! It takes a long time to learn how to light well. Keep shooting and having fun with it!


    A good way to learn/practice is find an image you like and try to replicate the lighting. It gets you thinking about the direction of light and the power of the light source.
  7. macrumors regular


    Aug 12, 2011
    United States
    There is a young man on youtube who runs the channel CamCrunch. He has a lot of useful info on photography as well as tips and tricks for flash photography. Worth checking out.
  8. macrumors newbie

    Apr 14, 2010
    By far the most useful site/blog I have found is this one:

    He has a bunch of tutorials along the right side that walk you through from beginner to expert. Scroll down on the right side of the page until you get to the flash techniques.
  9. macrumors 65816

    Apr 26, 2008

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