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Creative Lighting and Flash Course (CLG)

When Photographers Resource started it was the newsletter of Camera Images. Later it split away to become a separate operation.

Camera Images was the main training provider for advanced users and professionals using Nikon cameras.

With the recession the cost of selling courses exceeded the revenue they produced so Camera Images decided not to take on new clients, but to still provide training to it's existing customer base.

The courses mentioned in the articles below are no longer available unless you are an existing client of Camera Images.

We use flash in a number of different ways with our Nikon cameras. We have so many choices to choose from, some better than others in each situation.

So what are these choices :- All except the D1, D2 and D3 cameras have a built in flash, we can add a flash on to the top or onto a cable, and have a choice of 4 current Nikon flash units to use, some like the D200, D300, D80 and to a lesser degree the D70 have a built in commander function that allows a flash or group of flash units not connected to the camera to be fired, we can also use either the SB800 flash unit or a SU800 unit that is similar but without a flash head to provide a more powerful commander. Alternatively we could go in another direction and use studio or other flashes triggered by a wired connection, an extra device, a radio link or our inbuilt or add on flash units. We can also add attachments to flash units like diffusers, broleys, soft boxes, snoots and more, fire them at the subject or bounce them, use reflectors instead of additional flash heads and utilise special units like the hi-lite background or the macro sets, flash cubes and backgrounds, as well as a variety of reflectors with different shapes, colours and uses.

We also have to consider the direction of each light, the power and the effect of mixing colours, for example flash and normal room lights, the need for a power supply with studio lights and resulting cables compared to the cable free environment when using the creative lighting system, and where each could be used.

Some of our Nikon flash units have other modes, for example the ability to fire as a flashing strobe allowing a number of images in different positions to be recorded in a single photo, to handle motor drive sequences and several choices of the mode that controls the amount of light, flash heads that zoom, and ability to set or lock exposures in different ways.

We can break this into six topic areas  a)the functions and use of the built in and add on Nikon flashes, b) the creative lighting system using the Nikon flash units c) the use of other studio lighting systems, d) the choices we have within the Nikon camera we are using to control and vary the effect, e) the other accessories that we can use with either studio or creative lighting including reflectors  and f) the setting up and lighting of subjects, scenes and other items that we photograph.

Of course like all photography there are other decisions to make, like exposure, the right mix of ISO, speed and aperture, the colour balance, depth of field and camera perspective.

The creative lighting and flash day course covers all of this, and includes putting it into practice, with a model in for 2 hours to allow experiences to be gained and familiar problems that are likely to occur to be explored.

Most who attend this will have already done the Hands on a Nikon day so be fully familiar with the camera and its settings, although many will not have used all the flash related facilities fully. Even if you feel you have forgotten half of what you learnt on the Hands on a Nikon day you will have no difficulty as this will refresh and remind you of some of what you covered before.   Some like to do this as a second day to the Hands on a Nikon on their first visit, and this works well at is allows them to put into practice much of what they have learnt on both days.

The day starts by looking at the camera, and its relevant settings, the inbuilt flash and a single add on flash unit, and how this can be used to get good and consistent results. This is not only lighting where light is insufficient but also lighting shadows, or balanced daylight flash, as well as using a reflector with either daylight or flash.

The 2 main Nikon flash units are looked at, these are the SB800 and the SB600, and benefits and price compared.

Next the creative lighting system is looked at using both the built in commander where you camera has one and the more powerful commander on a SB800 or SU800. This uses either a flash unit or flash signalling device to tell slave flash units what to do. You can use an SB800, SB600 or SB200 as a slave flash and have a number of them operating in two or three groups, in addition to the on camera flash. As this operates with light not radio waves the slave flashes need to be able to see the signal or reflection of it.  

We donít usually look at the SB400 in any depth unless of specific interest to the client as it is a very basic flash, with minimal settings and does not work with the commander functions. It operates in TTL mode only on all except the D40, where manual is also available. It has some tilt positions for bouncing, and although lower powered than the SB600 and SB800 is powerful enough for many uses including some balanced flash, filing in the shadows. Rating is 21/69 at ISO 100. 30/98 at ISO 200, compared to the built in flash on a D300 of 12/39 at ISO 100 and 17/56 at ISO 200. It is very small and cheap, we have seen them at under £30, although postage is often then more than the price of the flash.

The SB200 is another low power flash, but does not connect to a camera, this is fired using the commander only, and is designed for use with close up and macro photography, although it has other uses. It can be bought on its own, or as a part of a kit, usually having two SB200, and a collection of accessories to allow it to be used either on stands or on a ring connected to the front of some lenses. Not all lenses are strong enough to support this. The SB-R1 kit does not contain a commander while the SB-R1C1 includes a SU800 commander as well.

The main flashes are the SB800 which is the most powerful, has extra functions and an inbuilt commander able to control its own flash and up to three groups of additional flash units, and the slightly less powerful SB600 which has fewer special functions and no commander built in, but at a much lower price.

You can mix up systems using any combination except the SB400. So for example in studio practical sessions with a model we often use three SB800ís, and 2 sb600ís.  But you donít need this many, we look at ways to use just one or two and how reflectors can be often used instead of flash units.

On this day we also show you a low cost studio lighting system suitable for portraits, still life and the like, and all the attachments and options available.

Having seen and used many things we get to a practical session to put this all into practice, and a model comes in for two hours, allowing you to light the scene use backgrounds, different types of lighting and reflectors. This is both a practical reinforcement of what we have covered and also a chance to demonstrate things that can go wrong, and explore how to get different lighting effects. In some cases part of this is done with the studio lights and part with the creative lighting, but where the client wishes it can be done using either the studio system or the creative lighting system. We use in either case also a hi-lite, this is a large 7ft by 6ft white box that lights up with flash units, and is usually used as a background that has no shadows, but can also be used a  giant soft box, equivalent to a window with guaranteed diffused sunshine, this folds down to fit in a small bag when not in use. We have a range of reflectors that are also used. Lighting stands can be used for either the studio lights or the creative lighting system.

A flash cube is a collapsible wire box covered with translucent white material, and they come in various sizes, and have several backgrounds. These are used to produce shadow less images ranging from product photography to flowers. We have a variety of these to explore where there is the interest.

We can also use a tethered system, a camera connected via cable to a laptop computer allowing us to take photographs and see the results as we progress on the laptop or larger attached screen. Usually for the model session most of the time the results are assessed on the cameras monitor and after the model leaves images uploaded to a computer to review.

Like all Camera Images courses this is one to one, so you are handling equipment throughout the day and asking questions as you wish, the contents and direction can be tailored to your interest often omitting items that you are not interested in, allowing more time for others. While the model is with us, you get the chance to take very  many photographs, and there is time for you to set up specific shots that you would like to take to add to your own portfolio. The models sign a model release allowing you very wide use of the photographs but with a few restrictions.

If you wish you can extend the day or add an evening Ďshortí after to allow you more practical time. Perhaps having another model in for the evening session. The first two hours of the models time is included in the main day course, extra models or extended time is available at a reasonable additional cost.

Some other day courses which also cover flash, but not to the same depth, these include macro photography courses and specific topic courses like flower and butterfly photography, in each case this is covering just the information to use it in this application area.

MIC - Macro to Micro

3DP - 3D Photography

FLW - Flower photography

BUT - Butterflies

EXE - your own defined day

You can of course also find the CLG day included or have it included in a multi day course, building just what you want to cover.

You can also cover the same ground by selecting a number of shortís or a sub set of it with a single one.

CIS-EPS-RF           Refresher

CIS-EPS-UF           Using flash

CIS-EPS-NC          Nikon Creative lighting

CIS-EPS-SP           Studio photography

CIS-EPS-PT           Portraiture

CIS-EPS-MC         Macro and close up photography

CIS-EPS-FP           Flower photography

CIS-EPS-BW         Black and White Photography

CIS-EPS-RP           Reproduction of art and documents

CIS-EPS-QA          Q&A session

CIS-EPS-PS           Practical session

CIS-EPS-PM          Practical session with a model

See also

Flash Guide Numbers explained.

Flash, Studio and Reflectors 


By: Keith Park Section: Training Key:
Page Ref: creative_lightin_and_flash Topic: Camera Images Training  Last Updated: 03/2010

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