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12-05-2015, 09:42 AM - 1 Like   #1
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Digital Flash Photography Resources

I have decided I really need to improve my skills using a flash in photography. I have never really embraced using a flash in the digital era. Currently I have an older AF 540 unit and I just purchased a new AF 540II unit. I am looking for some advice on different resources to improve my skills. There are tons of books out there and I could spend months reading through countless online reviews. Instead I thought I would ask here where there are people with extensive more knowledge. I have downloaded the Flash Guide here from the forums and I have been reading through that. I have found this to be extremely helpful. I have to admit I have never had much success using flashes successfully with my digital cameras. I have been asked recently to do some portrait shots but I feel I must improve my skills first. I do not have a studio or access to one. I just have my two on camera flashes, a few modifiers and a soft box at this point. I greatly appreciate any advice given here. This is an area of photography that I feel I really need to work at.


12-05-2015, 11:57 AM   #2
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Check this out, written by PF Member mcgregni
12-05-2015, 01:08 PM   #3
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Loads of info there with tutorials and assignments to try

12-05-2015, 05:13 PM   #4
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Hi Michael, I'm really glad that you have found the Flash Guide useful .... make sure you have the latest 2nd edition with has a number of improvements and more information over and above the original.

One of the motivations for putting the guide together was my constant annoyance, when reading books on flash photography, of having to read about and see pictures of all the Nikon and Canon flashes. The books only seem to use those two brands as examples, despite our Pentax dedicated system being very similar in its fundamental operation. I wanted to be reading about, and seeing pictures of, my own Pentax equipment!

You have the same two flashes that I do, and they work very well together. Coupled with the built-in flash on the camera you have a handy 3-flash set up. My main bit of advice, apart from the obvious about learning the essentials and understanding how things work, is to be very sure you are working within the correct distance limits of your flashes .... it is very easy to have powerful flashes like the AF-540's too close to a subject for the settings, leading to instant overexposure. So make use of the flash range and distance indicator with a flash on the camera to accurately judge your subject positioning and fine tune your settings.

When using both flashes off-camera (in wireless slave mode) with P-TTL, then make sure you set a ratio on both (eg 1/3 - 2/3) depending on which is your main light and which is your fill or secondary light) and make flash compensations right from the start. If it doesn't look right on the first shot just crank those compensations and tell the system what you need. Remember that in this configuration the camera-set flash compensation controls the total (global) output, while the individual flash compensation settings on each flash only affects that particular flash.

Or you can switch to manual mode on both flashes and control the outputs directly from both. Do not mix modes though, eg don't use P-TTL on one and Manual on the other, use the same mode on both.

Good luck with your flash experimenting, and I'm sure plenty here will be looking forward to hearing how you get on, and there's always plenty of experience on hand to answer all sorts of questions.

12-05-2015, 08:01 PM   #5
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Thanks Nigel, yes my biggest battle lately has been overexposed washed out skin tones and harsh shadows. I found my older 540 was so big and powerful that I stopped using it inside smaller areas.
12-05-2015, 08:29 PM   #6
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Sounds like a common problem. The 540s can be used at low power though, and with appropriate aperture and ISO settings can output very nice soft effects at close distances. You want to get them off camera, or if on-camera then diffused and bounced, in order to get better quality effects and nicer soft light. A softbox, umbrella, and diffusers such as lightspheres, panels, benders etc are all good ways to start. Check out my last post in this thread to see a description of how I use my two AF-540FGZs off and on- camera .....
12-06-2015, 07:48 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Scorpio71GR Quote
Thanks Nigel, yes my biggest battle lately has been overexposed washed out skin tones and harsh shadows.
If you have been using P-TTL, then try exerting manual control over flash power.

It may sound daunting at first, but you'll probably soon find it is easier if only one (you) is driving, rather than three (the camera, the flash, and you).

For a great resource on flash photography, try "Lighting 101" and, later, "Lighting 102".

Gfurm already provided the link to the main site, but I thought you may find the individual pointers to these very instructive series useful.

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