10 Things a Photographer Wishes He Had Known Before He Started Shooting With Strobes

When you're new to working with artificial light, the entire world can feel quite confusing and a bit overwhelming. This helpful video goes over 10 things a seasoned photographer wishes he had known before he started dabbling with strobes.

Coming to you from Behind the Shutter and featuring Michael Corsentino, this great video is chock full of 10 things he wishes he had known before he picked up flash photography. Of them, I personally think the most crucial for anyone starting out is understanding the basic physics of it all, especially how the size of the light relative to the subject affects the quality of the light. Relatively larger light sources render softer light with more gradual transitions between highlights and shadows and vice versa. And there are two ways to change the relative size of a light source: increase its physical size or move it closer to the subject. If you can master this principle, it'll go a long way in helping you to shape the light in a way that's flattering for your subjects or in line with whatever creative vision you have in mind. Check out the video above for Corsentino's full thoughts on the subject.

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8 Comments

Vladimir Vcelar's picture

The one thing I've learned working with strobes is to watch where I'm going; I can't even begin to tell you how many times I tripped on those darn wires and had a light come crashing down, sometimes close to the client! Them good old days before wireless.

user-206807's picture

Ceiling rail system is the solution.
But yes there are always some wires around…

Dan Howell's picture

Distance effects both softness and rate of fall off. Unless I missed it, he didn't address fall off in the qualities of light. Also, most of the qualities he uses to understand lighting also apply to constant light sources.

How would this apply if you were say using a leaf shutter?

It all still applies, except your minimum exposure time. Leaf shutters do not have a minimum “flash sync time,” just a much longer minimum exposure time.

Alex Herbert's picture

I've only been shooting about 4 years and started out with speedlights and strobes. I've only taken very few photos without some amount of artificial light, even if just to supplement. I learned the rules of artificial light before just about anything else to do with photography, but the number of videos I see from supposedly experienced photographers on youtube claiming as to what will 'soften' light astounds me. I've seen so many talk about 'diffusing' the light source to add softness, but then just cover a diffused light with another layer of diffusion thats the same size as the first. That's not softening the light, it's just dimming it!!

Dimming, and spreading, (spill), but, yes, same softness.

Milenko Đilas's picture

Just a little extra... First photo BIG mistake (start on 7:38) photo on the right.
It is very clear that natural light comes from the left (pay attention to the shadows in the background), why then the model light comes from the right and this light creates a shadow of the opposite side of the shadows in the background?! It's a big mistake.The light on the model should come from the same side from where it comes natural light to create the same direction of the shadow as it is made by the natural light. Yes, this is very important when you give advice about the light to anyone, especially as some beginners are watching this because every detail is important.
And by some "unwritten" rule, the light on the model should be sharp light to make everything look more realistic, to adapt to the sharp shadows of natural light (a matter of taste).