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4.5 Rating
Flash Photography on Location

Ami Vitale on using a single Speedlight for illumination

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4.8 Rating
Repeating Flash Lighting Technique

Joe McNally uses the technique of repeating flash to capture the grace of balletic…

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Six Steps to Lighting Magic with Joe McNally

Follow lighting expert Joe McNally's instructions for easy flash photography…

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Photography Lighting Tutorial Part 1 - Control of Color

Go on location with Joe McNally for a video tutorial on lighting…

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4.7 Rating
Speedlight Tutorial: Artificial Sunlight Technique

David Tejada uses Speedlights to add a late afternoon look to a scene

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Using Speedlights on Sunny Days

Ron Magill shares a tip for using flash in bright sun

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4.4 Rating
Photography Lighting Tutorial Part 2 - Control of Color

Go on location with Joe McNally for a video tutorial on lighting…

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4.4 Rating
Flash Points: The Control of Light

Color temperature, rear sync, slow sync: Three key elements in flash photography.

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3.0 Rating
Creative Lighting

For those who want to learn about creative lighting

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4.7 Rating
Speedlight Tutorial: Bounce Technique

David Tejada uses Speedlights wirelessly for pleasing portrait illumination

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4.1 Rating
Taking Better Photographs of the American West

When you get a chance to visit the open prairies, and photograph ranchers…

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4.9 Rating
Speedlight Tutorial: Day to Night Technique

David Tejada uses Speedlights to create the illusion of a night scene

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Photograph Family and Friends During the Holidays

The holidays are prime picture-taking time. Get some great tips on…

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3.4 Rating
Elements of Photography

Ideal class for those who want to take great D-SLR photos

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3.1 Rating
Taking Pictures at Dusk and at Night

How do I take pictures at dusk and at night?

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Ami Vitale

Photographer and multimedia journalist Ami Vitale is a Nikon Ambassador. Learn more about her photography.

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Using Auto FP High-Speed Sync to Illuminate Fast Sports Action

Dave Black on using high-speed flash sync for sports…

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4.6 Rating
Lighting Techniques: Light Painting

Using the technique of light painting allows you to add depth and dimension to your…

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4.3 Rating
Understanding Auto ISO

Auto ISO can simplify shooting under changing lighting conditions

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3.6 Rating
Halloween & Autumn Harvest Photography

Take better photos during the colorful fall season

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3.5 Rating
VR Image Stabilization

VR image stabilization technology detects vertical and horizontal movement and offsets it by…

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4.2 Rating
Photographing Sports Indoors and Out

Capturing the action of a sporting event is easy when you follow a few simple…

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Searching for Perspective in Photography

Ami Vitale discusses perspective in photography

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How-To Take Great Photos at the Aquarium

Tips for photographing the fish and creatures that live under water

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4.4 Rating
Versatile Views of the World of Wildlife:

Ron Magill field tests the AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens

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4.3 Rating
Boudoir Photography: Creating the Sensual Image

Trendy boudoir photography by CherieFoto.

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4.5 Rating
Joe McNally: Shooting a Portrait with Speedlights

Joe McNally sets up a portrait on location using Speedlights

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3.9 Rating
Getting Creative with White Balance

Try getting creative with your camera's white balance for some interesting results.

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3.9 Rating
Basics of Exposure and Camera Controls

Ideal class for those who want to go beyond point & shoot photography

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4.2 Rating
Macro Photography Tips: Photographing Insects and Other Small Creatures

A few quick tips on macro photography

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Wherever the Adventure…

Underwater photos & movies with the COOLPIX AW110

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Marketplace: A #1

Shooting with the COOLPIX A

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3.8 Rating
Summit Series of Photography Workshops

Come to the Summit for the ultimate workshop experience in all areas of…

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4.3 Rating
How to Photograph a Solar Eclipse

Learn the techniques needed to shoot solar eclipses from Mr. Eclipse, Fred Espenak

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4.1 Rating
Image Overlay: Combining Images Together In-Camera

Image Overlay lets you combine multiple images together in-camera

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Using Multiple Lights in the Studio

Blair Bunting discusses checking lights on set

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Flash Photography on Location

Using one Speedlight to create great images

Great photography is all about finding unique moments and beautiful light. The reality is that 99% of the time, natural light can be harsh and unflattering. This is where the artistry comes in. Photographers are really like painters, and we need to be able to mold light in simple ways. I like to think of these light “problems” as advantages. Some photographers use studios—banks of soft boxes and expensive lighting equipment to create solutions. I’m a travel photographer and have to work in remote places so I often take just a few simple tools. Usually I’m working with just one camera body, one lens and one flash.

In this article, I’m going to teach you simple methods to create beautiful images anywhere, anytime and without a huge truckload of gear. Remember not to let these technical issues overwhelm you, so that you forget to shoot with your heart. Great technology should never get in the way of great art. It should enhance it and that is what Nikon gear does for me.


Spot Metering

The very first thing is to change the way you see light. Rather than looking at harsh light as a problem, I look at the strong light as an opportunity. If I get into a situation where the light seems too bright and the dynamic range too high, I will spot meter for just the highlights and let everything else in the image go into a dramatic dark black. It’s a huge advantage that the cameras don’t see everything our eyes see, because it allows me to make more complex, dramatic images by simply exposing for the highlights. I like to find dark spaces where strong light streams in. Rather than metering for everything in a high contrast scene, I find one highlight and spot meter for it, and let the rest of the image go into deep black [shadows]. If I had exposed for the highlights and shadows in the whole scene, the highlights would have been blown out and there would be no deep blacks or drama in the image.


Off-Camera Flash

Another simple technique I often use is off camera flash. I rarely leave my flash on the camera because I find it destroys the mood and blasts away context by overpowering existing lighting. So often, just a kiss of light from the side tells the story better. This works well for portraits and I usually do this with just one off-camera SB-910 Speedlight. I used to use a flash cord to trigger the off camera flash, but these days, I either use the SU-800 commander unit or radio controlled triggers.

Sunset portraits are a great way to learn this technique. Since your subject will always be back lit, a little off camera fill flash will make a huge difference between an underexposed portrait or a stunning, “National Geographic”-looking portrait. You must first meter for the ambient light. In this case, (Image of african man) there is a brighter sky area, and then the less bright trees in the background. You have to decide what your background is, and then decide how you want to expose for it. I like to create drama by under exposing the sky. Metering was simply done by framing the bright sky areas and getting my settings in manual exposure mode. I purposely under-exposed this image, taking the exposure 2/3 of a stop down from the zero of my camera’s built-in meter. This gives it a rich color pop in the background.

The next question is: how do I meter for the flash? I recommend relying on the incredible technology that is available to us. The beauty of using TTL flash is that the camera and flash will figure out how much light to add to the final exposure. You can preview your camera’s LCD to see whether you like the exposure, and then dial the power of your Speedlight up or down. I cannot overemphasize how easy TTL flash is to use. It allows us to stop agonizing over correct exposures and instead, focus on connecting with what’s in front of us. Seize the moment and experiment using one Speedlight to help set your work apart. The right flash plus some experimentation are guaranteed to elevate your storytelling to art.

Ami Vitale is a Nikon Ambassador.

Check out her Ambassador page.

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