For this photography challenge, I have another project for you that you can work on at home. It’s time to dig out your flash (aka speedlight) and actually learn how to use it.
Okay, please confess now if you own a flash but have never actually used it, or possibly never even taken it out of the box. Are you guilty?
Well now is the perfect time for education and practice, so go get it. If you do not currently own a flash you can get one for under $50 if you shop smart.
Note: The little pop-up flash on top of your camera is NOT the same as a speedlight. It doesn’t have the options a separate flash does, nor can it tilt or swivel. So to do this you need a flash that mounts on the hot shoe on top of your camera.
If you need some help in that area CLICK HERE for my recommended list of flashes and accessories on Amazon. I highly recommend the Godox brand and in particular, the TT350. It’s small, lightweight, and costs just under $100 for most camera
Tips for learning about flash photography
I’m going to assume that you might need some help with this process, but not to worry I got you covered.
Below you’ll find links to three tutorials I wrote about flash photography for beginners. So even if it’s still in the box, and you have no idea how to use it except maybe how to turn it on – you can do this if you read and follow along.
#1 – Using your flash – tips for total beginners
The first tutorial goes over the very basics of using your flash including:
- Tips for buying a flash if you need one (and not breaking the bank in the process)
- Using and attaching the flash to the camera (first step)
- Flash modes – what they all mean, which to use and when
- Flash Exposure Compensation – that it means and when to use it
- Camera settings to use for shooting with flash
Read: How to use your flash – tips for total beginners now.
Action plan part one
What I recommend you do now is to learn how your flash works by going through all the options as I do in the tutorial linked to above. Try all the different modes out. Dial the flash compensation up and down and see what it does at the various settings.
Try it in brighter conditions like daylight, and layer in the day when it’s darker inside your house. See how it changes. Try different camera settings and see what happens when you adjust them.
In other words – experiment! You will learn best by trying things yourself, looking at the results, and hopefully you’ll have an epiphany along the way.
Make sure you have mastered those concepts before moving on to the next one. Then when you are ready, continue…
#2 – Overview of flash buttons, settings, and options
Now you’re ready for the next step, learning about some of the other settings and options available with most flashes.
You’ll learn about:
- High-Speed sync mode – what is it and when to use it
- Zoom setting – manual versus automatic and why it’s important
- The wide-angle panel – how to find it and what it does
- The white bounce card – how to get it out and when to use it
Read: How to Use Your Flash – What all the Buttons and Settings Mean
Action plan part two
You know what to do! Continue where you left off after completing part one. Experiment with all of the settings explained in the article mentioned above, make sure you know how to find them all and when they each do.
#3 – How and why to bounce your flash
Once you get past parts one and two, you’re ready to take it up a level and really learn how to apply it all and take better flash photos.
In this lesson, you will learn the benefit of bouncing your flash.
In the third tutorial you’ll learn:
- What is bounce flash and why would you want to do it?
- What you need to do it (the simple answer is a flash with a rotating head)
- The basics of bounce flash and how to do it
- Bouncing off the ceiling
- Bouncing back and off the ceiling (my personal favorite flash trick)
- Bouncing to the side
- Bouncing other directions
- What to watch for when shooting vertically
- Other pitfalls to watch out for, such as colored surfaces, blinding unsuspecting people nearby, etc.
- Some other small bits of gear you could get to bounce when there are no other options (ceiling too high, colored walls, etc.)
Read it now: How to Use Bounce Flash for Better Photos
Action plan part three
Do I need to say it? Your action plan and assignment is to practice bouncing your flash all over the place. Try it in different rooms of your house, at different times of the day.
If you have another human with you at home, see if they’d be willing to model for you so you can practice these techniques on a real person.
Flash photography challenge
So the real challenge for you here is not a result but a journey. I always encourage you to try things you haven’t done before and if you haven’t used your flash very much (or at all) now is the time to get to it.
Don’t expect your flash photos to come out perfectly right out of the gate. Give yourself some time and be patient with yourself. It’s a process.
It will take time for you to master flash photography and you have nothing but right now so why not get started on it today?!