April 24, 2010

The Digital Field Guide by J. Dennis Thomas

These days more and more people it seems are getting into photography. Really, if you think about it, the cameras are getting so sophisticated that even people with no experience can take good photos. Granted, not everyone knows how to compose their photos or has a good eye, but these days the new cameras can take most of the guess work out of getting good shots and do most of the work for you. My personal photos have evolved quite a bit over the last 5 yrs or so. I’ve learned new techniques and tricks, have improved my composition, and now I slow down and take my time. With my style of photography, mostly landscape and portrait, I’ve found if I take my time and “set-up” the shot, my photos improve ten-fold. I wrote an article back in December 09’ about a book I was all excited about, On-Camera Flash by Neil van Niekerk. What I didn’t realize was, quite a few people really don’t understand their off camera flashes units that well or know what they are really capable of.

Like a lot of people, when I get a new camera toy, like a Speedlight, I’ll usually skim through the owners manual and then jump right out and start shooting. But you know how that works, I’ll run into a situation where I don’t understand why I’m not getting the results I was expecting and then I go back to square one, the owners manual. This is why I always recommend having your manuals in your camera bag or on your person when you’re out shooting.

This brings me to the topic of this article, a book called the Canon Speedlite System – Digital Field Guide. For those of you shooting Nikon, there is also a book called Nikon Creative Lighting System – Digital Field Guide by the same author, I would definitely recommend these books to help improve your knowledge of these powerful, yet very compact lighting systems. The Canon book came out shortly before the new 580 EX II came out, but the only thing really different on those units is the hotshoe footing and a very slight increase in power.

These books will give you practical knowledge of your Speedlights as well as tips and techniques on Wireless shooting with your 580 EX or 430 EX units as well as using the ST-E2 remote master unit. He gives useful tips on setting up portable portrait studios and on location lighting set-ups. Very useful for anyone trying to get the most out of their off camera flash units. The author also explaind the various types of portrait lighting, like broad or wide lighting, (also called wide or short lighting). He explains the difference between High-key and Low-key set-ups as well as various posing techniques.

One thing great about these books is everything is described in detail and is loaded with diagrams and full-color photos to make learning these techniques even easier. ( I know I need all the help I can get ). He gives tips on photographing pets and children, plus wedding and events tips, how to compose groups and even how to shoot macro, all done with your own Speedlights!

I really can’t say enough about these little books (they easily fit in your camera bags too) These days you can pick these books up right here at Amazon for under $15 dollars. Do yourself a favor and pick one up and remember, keep shooting and have some fun!
© D. Gould Photography