Flashback

During the last session, we covered the use of the flash. In preparation for this particular lesson, I’d finally took the plunge and bought myself one of these flash gadgets.

The one which Zig recommended for my Nikon D5500 DSLR is a Meike MK-910 Flash Speedlight, which was priced at £63.99 on Amazon.

Now all I need to do is get my head round how & when to use it…

So, why use a flash? The main function of this essential bit of kit is to create an alternative light source, which can either be main or secondary.

Not just for taking photos when it’s dark, it can add light when taking photos on a gloomy day. This means that a lower ISO can be used, which results in a less-grainy image.

Alternatively, it can be used for taking portraits in sunny conditions. The light of the flash will fill in the shadows& make a more flattering photo.

The main type of photographers who use a flash are the paparazzi. To illustrate this, Zig introduced us to the work of Weegee (June 12, 1899 – December 26, 1968). Weegee was the pseudonym of Arthur Fellig, a photographer and photojournalist. who was known for his stark black and white street photography.

During the 1930s and 1940s, Weegee worked as a press photographer in New York. By following the city’s emergency services and documenting their activity, he developed his signature style. Weegee also captured celebrities & citizens alike, creating a fascinating body of work. This is only a small selection, but you can see how Weegee has used the flash to bring drama, depth & interest to his images.

So, armed with my gadget, it was time to get to grips with this new piece of technology.

The first consideration is the camera settings. Firstly, the camera has to be on ‘manual’. Then the shutter speed has to be set to the fastest one allowed. On my Nikon D5500 this is 1/200.

One of the benefits of this particular gadget is that it’s a high speed synch flash. This is the computer-controlled feature that synchronises the flash and the shutter release. This results in the flash light output illuminating the subject when the shutter exposes the image sensor, allowing more light for the shot.

The following diagram is courtesy of http://www.exposureguide.com

how_high_speed_sync_works

The other main benefit of this particular flash is that you can see the camera settings on the screen:

flash_on_camera

It was quite dull late last Saturday so I thought it the perfect time to visit Busy Park & test out this new addition to my photographic equipment arsenal.

When I arrived at the park, it was quite overcast. There was also a very light mist of rain. Not enough to soak you through to the skin or drown the camera. Perfect.

A short walk took me to a piece of wood which I’d photographed earlier in the year, so it would be a good subject to test the flash out.

The first shot I took was with my mobile phone. This would also give me something to compare my flash shots to.

bushy_park_bark_flash_test

Still a fair bit of detail, considering I didn’t use the flash on the phone. Time for the DSLR/high speed synch flash combo.

The following images were taken using the flash with different settings just to see what happens. Have to admit that I forgot to turn the flash on for the first shot! However, it does show the difference in shutter speed. Also, I forgot to reset the shutter speed, so the first few shots are 1/60 before they go to 1/200.

I then moved onto another piece of wood.

Then another…

My attention was then caught by the droplets of water settling on the grass. By using the flash, it picked up on these small sparkles. The last image of this selection is the abstract.

I then tried this particular view. Fascinated to see that the flash picked up on the raindrops. The following haven’t been adjusted.

As an experiment when I got home, I made some adjustments to see what I could do with these. I quite like this particular effect by changing aspects, including exposure, then making it black & white then cropping the image.

I then ventured through the park and into the Woodland Gardens.

Two shots caught my eye:

When I upped the exposure, this is the results:

I also tried converting this one to black & white after upping the exposure and playing with the levels in Camera Raw:

I then took a shot of a view I’ve captured quite a few times previously. The first image is with the flash, the second with an increased exposure & the third is without a flash, but an increased ISO.

A few more from the gardens:

And some more:

After leaving the Woodland Gardens, I walk back through the park. A runner scooted past, so I took a shot with the flash. Of course, nothing really showed as there wasn’t anything to bounce the light from. Or so I thought until I first upped the exposure. I then had a play with contrast, highlights, shadows, etc. until I came up with the third image.

Criteria Ref: P1, P2, P4, P5

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