Flash Photography with Canon Speedlites

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I don’t usually work with a flash much, but I’ve been more and more comfortable with flash photography, thanks in part to Canon’s newer flashes. I have a 430EX III-RT and a 600EX II-RT. At first, since I wasn’t doing a ton of flash photography, I hadn’t paid attention to the RT designation – which I found out means Radio Transmitter, or something like that. You have to remember, I’m a photographer initially trained in the 70’s, and then I hadn’t done much photography until after 2010. So some of the newer tech has taken a while to soak into my old brain. I’m going to talk about, and show some examples of, using fill flash out doors today. I’ll do some experimenting with setting up a master and slave, and show some examples using the RT features another day.

I had a job recently to shoot photos at a banquet, and I knew I’d need my flash – so I reluctantly went and took photos of all the speakers, and others at the banquet with flash. Large and small groups, and then some non-flash photos of speakers with natural light (which I’m much more comfortable with).

After the evening was over, I was relatively pleased with my flash results – and now I’m not nearly as hesitant to use my flash when necessary. I tend to like natural light photography – and enjoy creating natural light images both indoors and out – but there are times when it’s appropriate, and actually may be better, to use flash.

Since my positive experience at the banquet, I decided to get adventurous and try using fill flash for some outdoor photography – specifically photos of some new blossoms on the plants in my yard.

My setup was my Canon 5D Mark IV with Canon 100mm f2.8 Macro lens, and the Canon 600EXII-RT flash. I had the camera set in Program mode and the ISO was set to 400.

In the first set of photos below, I took some shots of my Sweet Pea blooms with and without flash. I had the flash head at 45 degrees with the white, pull out reflector extended to avoid direct flash light hitting my subject.

There are 2 sets, each with a non-flash and flash image. With fill flash, more details are visible, and the colors are a bit more vibrant. Neither is good or bad, just different. I think flash is a good tool to have in your camera bag to change things up a little, or change the way an image looks. Knowing how your tools work, and how/when to use them is part of being a good photographer. I feel like I’ve limited myself a little by not using my flash, and not even wanting to use my flash – even when it might have enhanced my photographs.

Next, I took some photos of my peach blossoms, all with flash. Take a look at these and see what you think. In some of these close-up photos, I also think the flash can enable greater depth of field, so you can get more of the image looking sharp and crisp.

I hope this post will encourage you to carry your flash and use it from time to time to get some different results. I know I will be using mine more often. Specifically for all you that like to shoot only natural light, let me know what you think when you use your flash to add a little extra something (light) to your images.

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