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5 Flash Tips to Take Your Shots to the Next Level

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Author/Photographer Tilo Gockel gives you his top five surefire tips to kick your photos up a notch. You can learn more from Tilo in his flash photography books, Creative Flash Photography and One Flash!, both available now!


5 Flash Tips to Take Your Shots to the Next Level

1. USE OFF-CAMERA LIGHT | Haha, you thought that, right? That is the first and most important Strobist rule of all. But notice that I did not write, “use off-camera flash”, but instead,  “off-camera light”, which may even come from an on-camera flash, with the light bounced over a nearby surface.

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Off-camera flash? Not really, but it is off-camera LIGHT. I used on-camera flash for these portraits and swiveled the flashhead to the side.

2. LEARN HOW TO BALANCE FLASH LIGHT AND AMBIENT LIGHT | This took me some time, but once I worked it out it made a huge difference. By learning to balance flash and ambient light you are able to compose your shots exactly like you’ve imagined in your head. To be honest, this trick is easy. You only have to adjust the two exposures (the one for the ambient light and the one for the flash) separately. Hint: you’ll achieve real consistency and fast results without lots of test shots.

3. KNOW YOUR GEAR | Flash photography is not easy, and for me, it was like learning a new instrument. The more advanced techniques like bounce flash or using TTL with Flash Exposure Lock, Supersync, Back-button Focus etc. definitely need some experiments and a lot of practice. And don’t try to practice on a wedding, better practice before you shoot your first wedding! Plan expeditions just for practice and have fun with your gear. Let these experimental acts lead to the development of true technique and skill.

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Trick shots with powder or similar shots will only go smoothly, if you know your gear in and out . You simply do not have much tries.

4. BE BOLD, TRY NEW THINGS | There are so many new approaches and creative techniques like bokehramas, tricks with colored gel filters or high speed flash. I think it is boring to play it safe and always use the same old softbox setup. So I would suggest to try out all these new tricks and techniques, embrace them and develop them even further. Combine flash composites with Supersync, or try out long-range High-ISO bouncing …The sky is the limit, and a totally new and fresh look in your shots might be the reward.

5. DEVELOP A SIGNATURE | That might be the hardest thing, because there is always the danger of not only learning from other great photographers like Von Wong, Brenizer and van Niekerk, but also imitating them. In my eyes, it is important to find out what makes your shots stand out and recognizable. My shots are recognizable (at least I hope so), because I pay close attention to first the light and second the color combination. I prefer harder light with interesting shadows over soft and flat light. Often I prefer short light over broad light. And I try to avoid colors that clash. But your signature might be something totally different. It may be even the opposite and that is perfectly fine. Just think about, what makes your shots unique.

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For me, great color combinations and interesting light with lots of shadows is of utmost importance. That’s my “signature”. For you it might be something totally different, but keep in mind, that it is important to develop your own style to be recognizable.


Did you like this post? Then you also might like Tilo Gockel’s new book about flash photography, One Flash! Great Photography with Just One LightInside you’ll find more tips and tricks for working

One_Flash_C1_150with flash, including how to calculate with light, how to choose your equipment, how to light food, people and product shots, and more!

 

Definitely worth a closer look! View the print book on amazon here! And, view Tilo’s Photo Gallery too!

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