Shooting with Flash can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. What does feel like a near CERTAINTY, however, is that your Flash’s menu system is likely very complex. Let’s be honest, you’ve probably never mistaken your Flash for an Apple product when it comes to easy of use! With so many settings and menus and options to choose from, the technical aspects of operating your Flash can often be a non-starter for many natural light photographers. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could cut through all the extra bells and whistles to figure out the must-know Flash settings?
Let’s fix that, shall we?
In this post, the 4th in our Flash Series, I want to clean house. I want to eliminate all the clutter of your Flash’s menu system, and point you in the right direction in your search for the Only 2 Flash Settings You MUST Know!
For all you “I only own 1 Flash” folks out there, I’m gonna make things REALLY simple for you: this is the ONLY setting you need to know how to operate on your Flash. Seriously. Many photographers, when they’re starting out with Flash, shoot in a mode called ETTL mode. ETTL stands for “evaluative through-the-lens.” Your camera tells your flash what it’s seeing, and then your flash makes an educated guess as to how much light to fire out on to the shot. This saves you a lot of guesswork, which sounds great, right?
ETTL mode is essentially like shooting in auto for Flash. As a Natural Light photographer, would you ever dream of going back to shooting in Auto? Could you even imagine giving up the freedom to pick your own shutter speed, ISO, or aperture?
Why? Because, as artists, we love and crave control. The same control you achieve through adjusting exposure settings for your natural light photos, can be achieved by combining those exposure settings with control of your Flash power.
There are far too many different brands for me to show you how to do this in this blog, but in our Flash Course I walk you step-by-step through how to adjust flash power manually using 2 of the most popular Flash menu systems!
For those of you who, like me, would prefer to shoot with a multi-Flash setup, there is one more must-know Flash setting to learn: how to set up a wireless connection on your Flashes.
Now, it’s important to point out that not all Flashes are created equal. I prefer Profoto A1 Flashes, but many Flashes, particularly less expensive models, do not support wireless at all. Other Flashes provided limited wireless capabilities, often based on short distance or line-of-sight visibility. So, before you go racking your brain trying to figure how to connect 2 or more Flashes wirelessly, run a quick Google search for “(insert your Flash name here) wireless setup” – like this:
As you can see, you’ll likely be met not only with text-based search results, but video walkthroughs as well! This is handy, because you can get valuable info on your specific model! However, as with the manual power settings, in our Flash Course I walk you step-by-step through how to set up wireless connectivity using the most popular Flash menu systems being used by wedding photographers today!
What’s the goal here? The goal of knowing how to set up your Flash’s wireless connectivity is so that you can get ALL of your Flashes firing in unison with one press of your camera’s shutter! When you do this well, the results can be beautiful!
You may think I’m kidding, but I’m 100% serious – ditch every other setting on your Flash. Focus on mastering your Flash’s menu system in these two areas: manually adjusting power, and setting up wireless connectivity. These two settings represent 99.99% of all the adjustments we make on wedding day. If you can adjust these two settings quickly and efficiently, you’re well on your way to taking better Flash photos at your next wedding!
I hope these tips are serving you well as you’re figuring out your Flash. II’ll be back on Wednesday to talk about 4 Common Flash Problems (and How to Fix Them)! This one’s going to be FUN!