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03-16-2015, 08:51 PM   #1
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How Can I Practice Flash Photography?

I would like to know specifically which inanimate object or still life subject would be best to develop flash photography skills. As of now, I have a Pentax K50, YN-560, and a rouge flashbender. I've tested on my brother and objects around home, but results were not good at all. Any ideas or tips?

UPDATE:
Pics are in.

My method was ceiling bouce, the settings where ISO 400, and F2.0 - f2.4, flash power was 1/64.


My first shot wasn't planned out, it just happended. Overexposed.


So I had a chance to tweek the flash power and here is the final result.




Any way to improve?


Last edited by Super Takumar; 05-14-2015 at 11:37 AM.
03-16-2015, 09:22 PM   #2
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Play around with having your ISO fixed, your shutter speed fixed and then shooting with different apertures - to see the difference in the range and illumination that your flash gives at different apertures.
The irony (if that's the right word) of flash is that to produce good results you need a fast lens.

Then play around with trailing curtain sync and bounce flash to see when you can try and include more natural light and less direct flash. I think best results are when the flash is used to make up for short comings in the existing light, rather than replacing the available light.

It's not easy!
03-16-2015, 09:23 PM - 1 Like   #3
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03-17-2015, 01:23 AM - 2 Likes   #4
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Start simple.

  • A simple shape or object like an egg or a pumpkin would do quite well but anything will do, except brothers, sisters, small children or pets. They run out of patience and run away.
  • Start with one light, even the built in flash just to see what it can do. Try a diffuser and reflector with this flash and take note of the effects.
  • Try an on camera flashgun of the swiveling type, see what it can do, Vary the power, the distance, and angle of the flash, add reflector and or diffuser.
  • One good technique is to use a single on-camera flash turned sideways into a white reflector to bounce light back onto your subject.
  • Above all, change one thing at a time and observe the effects on your subject. If you try to change many things at once you will get confused very quickly.
  • Resist the temptation to add multiple lights until you understand what one can do and then treat the second light as just that, a secondary light.
Good luck

03-17-2015, 04:01 AM   #5
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Strobist is a very good online resource. Another fellow who has made flash photography practical is Tangents by Neil van Niekerk
03-17-2015, 05:58 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Super Takumar Quote
, but results were not good at all.
It would help if you either could describe "not good" in more detail or show some of the problems you were having. Aside from the object itself, the placement of the object will make a big difference. For example, a person near a wall has less shadow than a person 1-2 feet away from the wall where a harsh shadow could appear. Shooting in portrait, which pushes the flash to being off-center will make this much worse. Shiny/reflective object will present their own challenges.

A lot also depends on whether you use P-TTL, which can be unreliable, A or M modes for the flash. If you are comfortable setting the power level yourself, start at 1/8 or 1/4 power and see if that gives you a better effect.
03-17-2015, 11:14 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by MSL Quote
A lot also depends on whether you use P-TTL,
With a Yongnuo on a Pentax, that is not very likely
03-17-2015, 12:48 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by sterretje Quote
With a Yongnuo on a Pentax, that is not very likely
I make no assumptions about equipment I've never used.
I also make no assumptions that P-TTL will ever get a shot right

03-17-2015, 01:37 PM   #9
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First u need to get ur flash off from camera. U will need radiotriggers and with flashbender flashcable is useful also. Try to reflect ur flash from white surfaces like ceiling or wall or whatever u can use like white T-shirt. Idea is to make ur flash light source look bigger to create more softer light.

and then Strobist.com mentioned above already is good source
03-17-2015, 08:11 PM   #10
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I read each and every one of your replies, all of them being extremely helpful.

I'm going to take each and every one of them to heart in order to improve my skills.


I'll update this thread with some before and after shots.

Thanks a lot!

---------- Post added 03-17-15 at 11:14 PM ----------

Oh the problem is that i keep getting harsh shadows on my subjects face.

When I bounced the flash off the wall and ceiling, it looked pretty good. But with the Large Flashbender attached, I was not satisfied.
03-17-2015, 08:22 PM   #11
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Buy this book: Light Science and Magic
03-20-2015, 08:08 PM   #12
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Don't waste your money buying any book at the moment. Use the free assets available to learn flash photography before spending your money on books.

Start at the top of this play list and work down the first 3 videos will help you understand how flash is controlled the next two will put that in action.

Neil Van Neikerk is a master at both on camera and off camera flash there is a lot to learn from his site Tangents, study this guy he's good.
Here's a you tube video by Neil, it's based on his best selling book the
.

The other site that has been pointed out to you is the Blog called STROBIST lots of information there also.

Now to your original question:

Purchase a mannequin from somewhere like Amazon as you can see from the link you can buy anything from a head with hair to a full body mannequin. I'd start with a head and make sure it comes with hair real or fake doesn't matter neither does the color.

Above all get your flash off camera, this means buying light stands, triggers, and a modifier.

To do this at a minimum you need the following.

Flash - YN560 III it was before the 560 IV came out . I'd recommend the YN560 IV it has better features.

Trigger- I purchased the YN 560 - TX trigger it is all you need to be able to trigger these flashes and more.

Modifier - Convertaible Umbrella. The umbrella's are cheap and versatile master this and the softbox is a breeze.

Light Stand - Umbrella/Flash holder and light stand.
03-21-2015, 04:42 AM   #13
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Definitely watch the above linked talk by van Niekerk. You'll see that you can do well with your 560 on camera as long as you bounce the flash. And adding "the black foamie thing" actually does help - and it's cheaper than just about any modifier you can find.
04-02-2015, 01:34 PM   #14
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Use a wig head

I use a Styrofoam wig head to practice on. I got this hint from Bowens TV on youtube. Just paint it a neutral grey with maybe some sparkle paint to show highlights when using the flash. It will show shadow details and such. I have mine mounted on a lightstand but you can set it on anything to get it up to where you need it. If you have one light/flash you need to get it off camera to explore the light patterns. There are many resources for where to place the light to get some very good results.
And the plastic head never gets tired of fooling with you. I think I paid 3 bucks for one on Amazon. That way you can have everything set up at the same location a real head will be, or pretty close. Then your model won't get bored.You can easily move the head around for different light sources such as some window light plus flash. Very handy.
05-14-2015, 11:37 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by RodBoy Quote
I use a Styrofoam wig head to practice on. I got this hint from Bowens TV on youtube. Just paint it a neutral grey with maybe some sparkle paint to show highlights when using the flash. It will show shadow details and such. I have mine mounted on a lightstand but you can set it on anything to get it up to where you need it. If you have one light/flash you need to get it off camera to explore the light patterns. There are many resources for where to place the light to get some very good results.
And the plastic head never gets tired of fooling with you. I think I paid 3 bucks for one on Amazon. That way you can have everything set up at the same location a real head will be, or pretty close. Then your model won't get bored.You can easily move the head around for different light sources such as some window light plus flash. Very handy.
Sounds like a plan, I also updated the OP with pics.
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