The Magic Lantern – “Let There Be Light”

For me, knowing how to use my flash has been the single most hardest technique to grasp.  Yes, even more so than shooting in manual mode!  It’s not that I avoid using it.  No, common sense tells me when it’s needed.  But, it’s knowing how to effectively use the settings (there’s that manual mode again) to recreate (and in some cases drastically improve) the lighting of an image.

So, not being one to actually read an owner’s manual (they don’t make sense anyway) I finally decided it was time to take a few courses.  After three (3) very short and quick classes, I’m once again  reminded of the “magic” you can create with your camera.

So what did I learn?  Here are my top five (5) tips from the course:

  1. Ignore your internal camera settings –  Our instructor said it would be hard to do……and it was!  But, once I determined the “base camera settings” I was able to compliment the photo with the Flash settings.
  2. Bounce  – Instead of shooting directly on your subject, turn the flash head and bounce it off a wall, ceiling, curtain, anything to help highlight your subject versus blowing it out.
  3. ETTL and Manual – Both are great tools and have their own purpose when it comes to complimenting your subject. ETTL works great when shooting events (especially indoor) and when you don’t have much time to continually adjust your settings.  Manual is great for outdoor settings (both bright and dark) because you can control the power of the flash.
  4. Fill Flash is a great tool for outside –  I’ve heard this before, but I’m the photographer who is prone to using natural light.
  5. A higher ISO is your friend – This is probably my favorite lessen learned.  I’m hesitant with increasing the ISO because of that grainy coverage you get the higher you go.  But, what I learned was that with Flash, it will add light to the ISO and will help to eliminate some if not most of the grain.

So how did my photos turn out?  Here are a few practice shots:

“Moss Covered Trees”

 The Photo on the left is without a flash. While I do like the warmth when I added the flash (photo on the right) the colors of the landscape and the depth of the road seem to pop more.

“This and That”

Practice makes perfect (or near perfect) and your home can lend some really good subjects to practice with. Click on the images below to see how each imaged was captured with the flash.


The last thing my instructor told us was to “read our owner’s manual.”  I took it with me on a trip to Canada last week thinking I would find some time on the airplane to read it. I picked it up a couple of times, but for the life of me, I just can’t get into it……. I think I’ll just sign-up for the next Flash Photography course!

2 thoughts on “The Magic Lantern – “Let There Be Light”

  1. I’ve never taken a photography course and learned by watching and asking questions. You’re right. I did read the flash manual, but it didn’t help. Photographing Toastmaster events inside was a nightmare because while using the flash, I kept using the camera’s exposure meter. Once I was told to ignore the exposure meter, everything was fine. Experienced people are the best teachers.

    Liked by 1 person

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