Aaaahhhh.  Saviour of-my-photograph!_OHL5720

Ahem.  Sorry.  Won’t happen again.  Okay as promised this is the write up of the quick overview on flash I did recently for Holmes Chapel CC.  We talked about why we use flash guns – i.e. why do they flash, why are they not just on all the time so you can see what the light will look like?  There are couple of reasons, however the main one is the power of the light.  In daylight, even a 500watt work lamp would  struggle to make much impact.  We need a way to get a lot of light out in a very short space of time, so we can use a reasonable shutter speed (~1/160th) to control the ambient light.

Often, in a studio situation, we want to remove the ambient light altogether by stopping the lens down to a small aperture – say f/8 to f/16.  We then need a really powerful light to have it show up at all on the image – and deliver most of it within the window of time that the shutter is fully open.


Here are the slides we went through:-
The gear I showed on the night was:-

Yongnuo YN460-II Basic flash gun with power adjustment, and slave cell (fires when it sees other flashes fire).  Comes with small table top stand and wide angle diffuser (but no diffusion dome) £30
Yongnuo YN565-EX Fully off-camera TTL compatible flash for Nikon or Canon and maybe others.  Zoom-able head (17-100mm).  Comes with small table top stand and wide angle diffuser (but no diffusion dome).  Has a sync port, and external power connector.  Will not act as master flash  YN568-EX adds High Speed Sync £100
Nikon SB900 Nikon’s biggest baddest flash (now SB910 with bug fixes).  Fully off-camera TTL compatible flash,  Zoomable 17mm to 200mm.  Will act as master on the camera.  Will do High Speed Sync. £300
Nikon SC-28 cord (or copy) Curly cord to get your flash off the camera.  Replicates all hot-shoe functions. £10 for a 3rd party copy on ebay
Simple radio triggers Trigger the flashes remotely.  Trigger only – no power adjustment is possible – you need to walk to each light to do this manually.  Look for ones with umbrella mounts and tilt/swivel ability built in to avoid carrying yet more gear. £15-£30
Yongnuo YN622N Fully TTL. HSS compatible radio transceivers.  Put one on your camera and another one on each flash.  Mount a TTL compatible flash like the SB900 or YN565-EX and you will be able to do remote TTL shooting or adjust the power manually from the camera.  These have no display though, so you’ll need to remember what you set each group to power-wise. £25 each
Yongnuo YN622N-TX Dedicated transmitter for the YN622N above  – with screen so you can see what you are doing – adds “supersync” or tail sync for use with big old studio lights £30
Small stand Small fold-up stand for mounting speedlights, with standard lighting spigot. £15
Umbrellas There are lots of sizes available – up to 7 foot.  Reflective silver or white umbrellas, or white “shoot through” umbrellas.  Cheap, simple to use and portable. £10 to £40 for a 7 foot one from Cotswold Photo.  Other brands such as Westcott are more expensive
MKstudios Pop-up 80cm soft-box 80 cm softbox takes one speedlight and mounts on a stand with the supplied ball and socket mount.  Comes with inner and outer diffuser.  Best used with the diffusion dome on the light £40
Karlite/Manfrotto Superclamp Clamps to doors and other flat surfaces and around poles.  Comes with standard lighting spigot mount.  Will take up 16kg! £17
Manfrotto Justin Clamp Spring loaded clamp with standard cold shoe on a ball&socket.  15mm hole with screw clamp.  Very useful for holding all kinds of things £25

Now, there’s so much other gear available for Speedlights now, I’ll be here forever typing , and if you are interested in something specific, just drop me a line or ask me at the club.

Further reading

The Hot Shoe Diaries Joe McNally
Sketching Light Joe McNally
Understanding Flash Bryan Peterson
Direction and Quality of Light Neil van Niekerk


Neil van Niekerk’s blog – Neil is a master of using bounce flash on the run to achieve great light:-


One of my favourite Chinese lighting gear manufacturers – Meking Equipment.  Prices in US dollars – shipping is free on some items but on some is extra so be careful to add up the actual cost of getting the items to you.  UK import duty is payable on orders over £135.

FlashHavoc – lighting review and news site

Lighting Rumours – lighting review and news site

Other People/Stuff – search YouTube

Zack Arias, Joe McNally, Scott Kelby, Adorama, Gavin Hoey, B&H, Jason Lanier, Dave Black, Robert Harrington, Lindsay Adler, Joel Grimes, Karl Taylor, Frank Doorhoff


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