Want to Recreate an Image You've Seen Online? Stop Asking About Flash Settings.

Most beginner photographers are obsessed with figuring out the settings used by their favorite photographers. This video addresses those who ask specifically about flash power, but the answers can be applied to almost any question about camera settings.

Photographer and educator, Robert Hall, has built a solid community for those who wish to learn more about photography, and in particular, flash or strobe lighting. But with this kind of community, there inevitably comes the annoyingly repetitive questions because of the regular accumulation of newbie photographers. I don't mean to denigrate all of our less experienced readers — I was once one of these people asking redundant questions —  because there's a steep learning curve in any craft, and we all look for this shortcut to becoming highly-skilled. But, like with Hall and his video here, there's a breaking-point where one just needs to put to rest some of the questions that keep popping up. 

I hadn't noticed these questions asked about flash power before however, I can empathize with Hall's frustration. I see it all the time with regard to camera brand, focal length, aperture, and ISO. After he gives all the reasons why this type of question is unhelpful, Hall then offers some alternative, more thoughtful questions to ask your favorite photographers. His advice is excellent, so I won't spoil it — just watch the video to find out.

Are there any frequently asked questions which bug you?

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9 Comments

Timothy Roper's picture

If people would ditch the old-fashioned strobes and go with modern constant lighting, they could figure it all out for themselves just by looking at the scene.

Kirk Darling's picture

How is that going to reduce questions about the power of the light? Back when (hot) continuous lighting was still par for the course in the studio, we still queried about wattage requirements.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

I am just curious, why are strobes old-fashion?

Chris Rogers's picture

Wow. That's a pretty ignorant statement.

paul aparycki's picture

You are being generous . . . I would say it is well below ignorant. Ignorance implies at least some intelligence, something that mr. roper obviously has none of.

Jim Tincher's picture

Completely agree...

Kirk Darling's picture

Agree with Mr. Hall. Back in the wet darkroom days, the science of chemistry was a thing, but there were also a lot of arcane dark arts going on in the darkroom. Dodging and burning were magical spells. The techniques of agitating a Nikor tank or a print in developer were things of sorcery. Ferricyaniding and toning were alchemy.

The digital age seems to have brought about a belief that if a photographer just gets all the numbers correct, the picture will be good. You just need the right numbers. And if you use that other photographer's numbers, your pictures will look the same.

Jason Winters's picture

The correct flash settings are "Higher or lower until it looks like you want it to".

Reggie Hughey's picture

I grew up being told, “IF you don’t know, you better ask somebody”... That advice has served me remarkably wel.