The Art of Using Speedlights for Dynamic Portraits

Mastering off-camera flash techniques with a speedlight is a fantastic way to get started with off-camera portrait lighting. Utilizing a speedlight away from the camera allows for more controlled, professional-looking results, transforming simple shots into meticulously crafted images. 

Coming to you from Jay P. Morgan with The Slanted Lens, this informative video tutorial delves into the nuances of using a speedlight as an off-camera flash, a technique that significantly enhances the quality of portrait photography. Morgan demonstrates the setup process for an off-camera flash using a speedlight, highlighting its affordability and portability as key advantages. He emphasizes the importance of getting the flash off the camera to achieve more flattering lighting for portraits, an approach that diverges from the harsh, direct light associated with on-camera flashes. This tutorial is critical for photographers new to artificial light because it not only introduces the fundamental gear required but also teaches the strategic placement of lighting to sculpt and define the subject more naturally.

Morgan further explores the balance between ambient light and the controlled illumination from a speedlight, offering a formula for achieving the desired exposure and depth of field in various shooting scenarios. He discusses how to adjust the speedlight's power to match the camera's aperture setting, ensuring the subject is well lit against the backdrop. This approach is essential for photographers to understand, as it allows them to manipulate light effectively, creating dynamic and engaging portraits that stand out. The video also covers the use of modifiers like softboxes to soften the light, demonstrating how these tools can be integrated with speedlights to produce studio-quality lighting on location. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Morgan.

If you would like to continue learning about how to light a portrait, be sure to check out "Illuminating The Face: Lighting for Headshots and Portraits With Peter Hurley!"

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Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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