- When You Need an External Flash in Photography
- Interesting Photo of the Day: Man-made Patterns
- Photojournalist Discusses Conflict Photography (Video)
- Strangers Asked to Share the Last Photo They Captured on Their Smartphone (Video)
Posted: 02 Sep 2013 04:43 PM PDT
Quick Reminder: Only a few days left! in the 50% off deal on: Lighting Asylum Flash Training
Occasionally I get queries from my friends who have recently bought a DSLR that whether they need an external flash for “better” photography specially for indoors. So I thought I would put my few comments of where external flashes can really make the difference and make your photos stand out from the “pop-up” flash photographs.
The “higher” end cameras even do NOT have built-in flashes due to huge limitations of the in-built flash that can become bottleneck to their otherwise excellent image production quality. An external flash provide superior and “more” control over the lighting and exposure of the subject in low light (and even in bright light where you need to fill-flash) situations. Here’s why…
Flash Power and Distance
This is more obvious than the rest of the reasons but still this tops the list. With the power of the built-in flash (Guide number 13/43 at ISO 100) it becomes really difficult to illuminate “wide” angle shots and thus the edges of the photo remains too dark. With external flash you can get much higher range of illumination (Guide number 43/141 at ISO 100). Additionally an external flash has its own set of batteries thus enabling it to recycle faster so that the flash doesn’t drain the cameras batteries.
Note: It is important to understand that the effective distance of any flash depends on the Aperture and ISO. For example, at f/8 and ISO 100, the built-in flash will be effective only if the subject is within ~5 feet from the camera. Indirectly the range can be increased by decreasing F-stop and/or using a higher ISO setting. But both the methods come at a cost -
While a good external flash unit has about 15 times the power of a built-in unit, with approximately four times the effective distance (there’s some math involved here). Power also becomes critical for bounced flash and fill flash in sunny outdoor conditions.
Ability to Bounce Your Flash
One of the most important things that dramatically affect the “quality” of photographs is the ability to “bounce” the light from the flash onto the subject via ceilings, walls or other objects. The built-in flash will produce a harsh-looking “snapshot” like photo as you cannot control the direction of the built-in flash. While a bounced light of adjustable external flash head can produce a pleasing photograph that doesn’t even look “flashed”. The method produces softer shadows, a brighter background, and more natural-looking results. Of course to be able to effectively bounce of the light, you would need quite powerful flash as with “bounced” light you are lighting up the whole room.
While we can always remove a red-eye caused by light reflecting off the retina in the back of the eye with dilated pupils (when in darker indoor areas) using post-processing tools like Photoshop on the photo, it is always advisable to take precautions while taking the photo itself. An external flash does a great job on this. The closer the flash is to the lens, the greater chance of the light coming out of the flash to reflect directly from the retina into the lens.
It also depends on the distance between the lens and the eyes. There’s some geometry involved here but the bottom-line is greater the distance between the flash and the lens, the further away the camera can be placed from the human subjects without causing red eyes. As you really cannot control the position of the in-built flash with respect to the lens, an external flash is an excellent solution.
These are “goodies” (modifiers, brackets and helper uses) that you can attach to your external flash for achieving better effects like “diffusers” that softens the harsh light of the flash. Also index cards can be attached to produce certain cat-eye effects. Another type of modifier is Better Beamer that produces narrow very powerful beams for wildlife shooting at long distances. Again you can get Flash brackets that moves the flash unit further from the lens thus lowering the risk of Red-Eye effect even less. They also help in portrait shots (vertical shots) in reducing shadows from the sides.
You can deploy wireless flash setups in order to produce interesting studio like lighting sources from optimum directions. Some flashes include focus assist light that helps the camera’s autofocus system to work efficiently in low light situations. Also you can go for FP Flash (high speed sync) so that you can flash and still use of high shutter speeds. FP flash becomes necessary if you’re using fill flash outdoors but want to use a wide aperture to blur the background and hence need faster shutter speed than the sync speed. These small enhancements can really make a difference when it comes to professional shooting.
Which Flash to Buy? This depends on the compatibility factors and also the power requirements. If you have Canon EOS series DSLR, it is best to go for the 600EX-RT or 580EX if you can afford it. If not, the next best choice would be 430EX (I have this model). If you have a Nikon DSLR, the best bet would be to get SB600 (reasonably priced). There are other alternatives like Sigma and Metz flash units available for both Canon and Nikon DSLRs.
About the Author
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Posted: 02 Sep 2013 02:41 PM PDT
If you thought the cookie-cutter housing model only existed in the U.S., think again. Below is a photo of a several houses in Tibet, or rather, one house repeated a hundred times. The landscape on which the houses sit provides a neat perspective from which to view them. It almost looks as if the houses are built on top of each other:
Speaking of houses built on top of each other, check out these homes in a village in Iran (photographed by Mohammadreza Momeni). One man’s roof is literally another man’s porch. It’s incredible how many man-made patterns you can find like this. People often talk about patterns in nature: circles, spirals, orbits, seasons, etc.
But there are a lot of patterns used by man too: squares, rectangles, triangles, hexagons. It’s interesting when you compare the two. Nature seems to prefer circular type patterns, while man relies on rigid edges and corners.
Posted: 02 Sep 2013 01:43 PM PDT
So much in the realm of photography emphasizes art and beauty. But not all photographers seek to romanticize reality. Photojournalists are often asked to create images that accurately portray an ugliness that cannot be disguised. These brave photographers risk their lives and witness unbearable events in order to share the realities of war, famine, and disaster with the masses.
One such Reuters photographer, Goran Tomasevic, has been photographing conflict for 20 years. His photographic career has sent him to the front lines of conflict in many countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, and, most recently, Syria. Watch this interview to learn about what it’s like to be a photographer in a war zone:
Aside from taking graphic and disturbing pictures of violence with his Canon 1D X and Canon 5D Mark III, Tomasevic works to keep himself and his colleagues safe from harm. But he always tries to remain at the front lines. He is committed to his work and stays at a scene of conflict to the end. He must depict the reality of the situation. He wants viewers to see exactly what it was like.
While many would wonder why a photographer would go to such lengths for a picture or question the role of a photojournalist, Tomasevic believes that his documentation of the brutality of war and conflict drives people to help. In photographing these horrific scenes, he hopes that his work will cause fewer people to be harmed in the future.
Go to full article: Photojournalist Discusses Conflict Photography (Video)
Posted: 02 Sep 2013 12:55 PM PDT
Nowadays people will rarely step out of the house without their smartphones tucked safely into their pockets or handbags. The amount of photos taken with smartphones is now staggering. Ivan Cash came up with the concept of approaching strangers and asking them, “What’s The Last Photo On Your Phone?”:
The results are an eccentric mix. From a van catching fire to a get-together between close friends, there's no telling where this project will take him if he decides to explore other cities as well.
What's great about this project is that the owners of the photos were given a few moments to share the back-story behind their images. Without it, the collection would just seem random and impersonal.
Go to full article: Strangers Asked to Share the Last Photo They Captured on Their Smartphone (Video)
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