Using Small Strobes (Speedlites)


  • You can think of speedlites as small strobes
  • They are more portable than large strobes
  • Speedlites can be used in Manual mode or TTL (through the lens) mode
  • Manual mode emits the same amount of light every time
  • TTL mode meters the scene and produces a flash that will correctly expose your subject, based on your camera settings
  • You can use a variety of modifiers with speedlites, including beauty dish, softbox, umbrella, and strip lights
  • Shoot on Manual mode (M)
  • Use a large aperture when shooting indoors (f/4, f/2.8)
  • Use ISO 800 when shooting indoors
  • Use shutter speed to control the exposure of the background
  • 1/60 is a good starting shutter speed for indoors
  • Use ISO 100 or 200 when shooting outdoors
  • A large aperture outdoors will result in a shutter speed that is too fast
  • You can use the high-speed sync option if the shutter speed is over 1/200


  • You will handin 4 images for this Intro to Speedlites assignment. Each image should be from a different photo shoot (location and model)
  • You can practice at school, and probably even get some good shots, but you should definitely shoot elsewhere as well


1) Correct Content -

Photo #1 - On-camera bounce - Indoor Portrait

Take an indoor portrait using a white wall to bounce the light from the flash. The flash must be attached to your camera. Manual or TTL. You may need to use a gel (usually orange) to balance the flash colour temperature to the room colour temperature.

Photo #2 - Off-camera with umbrella - Outdoor Portrait

Use a transmitter, receiver, and light stand to fire the flash. Use an umbrella to soften the flash. Manual or TTL.

Photo #3 - Key Shifting (before and after images)

Key shifting is when you expose your subject normally, but decrease the exposure on the background by one to three stops. You can stop down with shutter speed, aperture, or ISO. Use a transmitter, receiver and light stand to fire the flash. Use an umbrella if you want to soften the flash. Hand in two images - one without key shifting, and one with key shifting. Manual or TTL.

Photo #4 - On-camera fill flash (before and after images)

Mount the flash directly on your camera. Use TTL mode. You may also attach a LightSphere. You must hand in both before and after pics. The before pic should show that fill flash is needed (dark eye sockets). The background should be properly exposed in both shots, with fill light in the subject's eyes for the after shot.

2) Wow! Factor - 40 marks

I want to be impressed. Have you poured yourself into the assignment? Are the images beautiful and/or powerful? Have you gone beyond the expected? Is this something that you would be proud to show to others? Does this belong in your portfolio?

3) Professionalism

Professionalism is based on the attention paid to the accurate and careful presentation of the final project.

  • 4 electronically submitted image
  • images must be re-sized: 9.5 inches longest side before framing
  • image must be 180 ppi
  • images must be in maximum quality JPG format
  • your image must have a frame:
    • Add a title outside the frame: lower center
    • Add a date outside the frame: lower right
    • Add your name outside the frame: lower left

Name your assignment in the following way :

  • username_Flash1.jpg
  • username_Flash2.jpg
  • username_Flash3.jpg
  • username_Flash4.jpg

4) Journal Entry

Write a 3-paragraph journal entry about the process of completing this assignment. Some things you might write about:

  • How did you decide on the background for each image?
  • What pose did you use and why?
  • What difficulties did you encounter?
  • What did you learn?
  • How could you improve your images?
  • How have you drawn attention to the subject?
  • How have you eliminated distractions or simplified?
  • What Elements and Principles do you see in your images?
  • Will you use flash again in the future?