DSLR Newbie Guidance - First Flash

Started Sep 3, 2013 | Questions thread
Sailor Blue
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Re: DSLR Newbie Guidance - First Flash
In reply to eldreams, Sep 4, 2013

KISS

Seriously, keep it simple and you won't have as many problems. Any new piece of equipment takes time to learn to use well. The more you try to pile in at once the harder it is to learn.

You have a pretty good camera now so I wouldn't recommend buying a new camera until you get some other equipment and start running into limits of your current camera.

$250 is a pretty limited budget and I don't see you getting all you think you want for that price. In fact, the one thing not in your budget just might be the most important thing to get once you get a good flash, and that is a good flash meter.

My suggestion is that you start with three things; a set of reflectors, a flash, and a friend to hold the reflector.  Get reflectors in the 40" range since they are big enough for a waist up portrait.

Try to take the photos in the hour before sunset and the hour after sunset. The light is slightly better in the first half hour of that time period, best through the next hour (the golden hour), then deteriorates the last half hour.

You can add flash as needed but you should be aware that the light changes quickly during this time period.  You need a set of CTO gels for the golden hour.  I only use fractional CTO gels since going to a full CTO gel makes peoples skin pumpkin colored.

With a friend to hold the reflectors (one of which should be translucent white so it can also be used a a scrim) you can shoot in the terrible lighting of mid-day and make some great photos during the golden hour.

The simple way to use the flash is to bounce it off a silver or white reflector your friend is holding. If you can get it off-camera then even better. You can use the off-camera flash as is or by bouncing it.

A set of YN-622s will get the flash off-camera and keep HHS capability but you can control an off-camera with the D3200 built-in flash so save them for a future purchase.

I mentioned a flash meter. Anytime you want to make life easy as a photographer when shooting with ambient light, and especially with mixed ambient and flash, then use a good incident light/flash meter. I recommend the Sekonic meters since they will give you a % flash reading with mixed lighting. The L-358 and the new L-479 are what I recommend unless you are doing a lot of scenics where a spot meter is very useful.

These tutorials are based on using a Sekonic meter but there is a lot of info on how to do mixed ambient and flash portraiture.

Sekonic - Joe Brady - Control the Light and Improve Your Photography: Part 1 — Portraiture Using Available Light

Sekonic - Joe Brady - Control the Light and Improve Your Photography: Part 2 — Better Environmental Portraiture

Sekonic - Joe Brady - Blending Flash & Ambient Light for Beautiful Outdoor Portraits

Sekonic - Joe Brady - Control the Light and Improve Your Photography: Part 3 — Studio Portrait Lighting

The second leg of portraiture is posing. This is a great tutorial on posing for portraits.

Sekonic - Frank Dispensa - Classical Posing and Portrait Lighting

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Living and loving it in Bangkok, Thailand. Canon 7D - See the gear list for the rest.

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