Nikon Americas USA

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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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4.5 Rating
Six Steps to Lighting Magic with Joe McNally

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

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4.5 Rating
Photography Lighting Tutorial Part 1 - Control of Color

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

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4.6 Rating
Speedlight Tutorial: Artificial Sunlight Technique

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

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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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4.3 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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4.1 Rating
Taking Better Photographs of the American West

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

Beginner

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4.7 Rating
Speedlight Tutorial: Bounce Technique

David Tejada uses Speedlights wirelessly for pleasing portrait illumination

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4.9 Rating
Speedlight Tutorial: Day to Night Technique

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

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4.4 Rating
Flash Photography the Easy Way

David Tejada's easy-does-it flash tips

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4.8 Rating
A Light in the Forest

Rod Planck on photographing critters in the field with a Speedlight

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3.1 Rating
Photographing People Using Wireless Lighting Techniques

Tom Bol's images inspire new ways of taking a portrait photo.

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3.7 Rating
Advanced Wireless Lighting

Advanced wireless lighting is the use of multiple Speedlights set up for wireless remote…

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4.7 Rating
Joe McNally and the new SB-910 AF Speedlight

Behind the Scenes of a Marketing Campaign Shoot

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4.7 Rating
What it Takes

David X. Tejada on minimalist lighting with Speedlights

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3.9 Rating
Exposure Compensation When Using i-TTL Gets Easier with the D4/D4s

Exposure compensation and flash compensation can be…

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4.7 Rating
COOLPIX Cameras and Cool Lighting with Speedlights

Lucas Gilman shows you how to use Speedlights with COOLPIX cameras

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4.7 Rating
High Speed Sync: A Flash Technique To Add a Pro Touch to Your Photographs

Kevin Kubota on auto FP high speed sync flash…

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4.5 Rating
Take Better Portraits

Tips for taking a good portrait photo

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4.4 Rating
Quick Tips for Taking Better Portraits

Suggested Lens choices, exposure settings and focus modes

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4.7 Rating
Ami Vitale

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

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4.0 Rating
Photograph Family and Friends During the Holidays

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

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4.4 Rating
Marketplace: One and Only

Nikon 1 AW1 waterproof, shockproof interchangeable lens camera

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4.4 Rating
How to Choose Your Next DSLR Lens

What to look for when choosing your next lens for your DSLR

Beginner

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4.2 Rating
Walkabout

Take a photo walk with Nikon pro Lindsay Silverman.

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4.3 Rating
Which NIKKOR Lens Type is Right for Your DSLR?

Learn what the different types of NIKKOR lenses are and which ones will…

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4.2 Rating
Shooting a Rock Concert

Whether you're taking photos at a major rock concert or at your child's school performance, these…

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3.8 Rating
Cat Photography: Capturing Cats in Pictures

With a little patience you too can make great pictures of your pet cat or…

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3.9 Rating
No Limits: For Better Photos, Think Like a Photojournalist

David Handschuh on thinking like a photojournalist

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3.2 Rating
Shooting Wirelessly with Nikon Digital Cameras and Wi-Fi Adapters

Enjoy wireless transfer of images with Wi-Fi compatible…

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3.6 Rating
Setting White Balance

How do I set my camera’s white balance for different lighting situations?

Beginner

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4.4 Rating
Destination Latin America:

Blaine Harrington on photographing Latin America

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4.5 Rating
Using the D810A DSLR for Deep Space and Nebulae Astrophotography

Photographing Nebulae and other celestial objects with…

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4.3 Rating
Exposure Bracketing: The Creative Insurance Policy

Get creative with your photography by using this age-old technique.

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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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