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Canon® Speedlite System Digital Field Guide, 2nd Edition by Brian McLernon

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Chapter 3. Flash Photography Basics

Early in my photography career, I felt that flashes caused about as many problems as they solved. Even with the latest flash technology, which was auto-thyristor circuitry at the time, my results were less than stellar and often inconsistent. While attending a Dean Collins workshop about light in general and studio flash in particular, I began to see light in a new way. Photography became less about the gear, and more about the light. It was an epiphany, and it made a lasting impression on me.

Taking the time to learn about using flashes to light your photos will also benefit your natural-light outdoor photography. You'll be sensitive to the nuances and quantities of light in a brand new way, and you'll now be positioning the camera to take advantage of it. You'll literally begin to "see the light."

Flash Photography Basics

Lit by two Canon Speedlites, this 580EX II using the included tabletop stand and a Sto-Fen diffuser is set to trigger remotely.

Studio Strobes or Speedlites?

While studio lighting systems fall into two main categories — continuous lighting or "hot lights," and flash lighting — I will only discuss flash lighting in this chapter. Flash lighting, whether Speedlites or studio strobes, are convenient to use because you can vary the light output and they pack a lot of power. Hot lights are, well, hot and that heat can have a negative effect on your subject. They ...

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