Amazing Light Workshop with Scott Roberts - March 27, 2012


Amazing Light- Anytime, Anywhere

On March 27th, we began this workshop at 5:30pm because the content that Scott Robert’s was offering could fill up many hours. We only had the Senior Center until 8:00pm. Scott offers a program that is five days long, so condensing five days into 2-1/2 hours made the evening full of information. This workshop was open to all camera clubs and individuals. Over 75 people in attendance.

Scott presented how to control light anywhere and at anytime. He explained how he uses manual flashes and simple radios. Using a manual flash, you set the output strength. Using radios is how you trigger the flash to fire without cords or a preflash like some camera manufacturers.

Learning to set the flash at six feet from your subject, you can quickly calculate the correct output. He handed out a distance-to-ratio card which can be attached to the flash body for quick reference. Six feet is about the distance of extending both your arms out, making it a simple calculation. Fingers from one hand, close to subject, the fingers of the other hand, close to the flash.

Exposure is set by controlling three things: ISO speed, aperture and shutter. With flash, you need to be aware of the Inverse Square Law of Light. Basically the Inverse Square Law states that an object that is twice the distance from a point source of light will receive a quarter of the illumination. So, what it means to us, photographers is that if you move your subject from three feet away to six feet away, you will need four times the amount of light for the same exposure. This can most easily be achieved by opening the lens aperture or shutter by two f-stops. You could also change the power of the flash from full power to ¼ power. Just a note, if you can use ½ or ¼ power instead of full power on your flash, think of the battery power saved.

Some basic concepts: shutter speed will control the ambient light, and aperture will control the amount of light hitting the sensor from the flash. Finding the right combination is what allows you to control the “mood” of the photo. Shooting in manual mode will give better control. Remember, your camera sensor is trying to give you a technically good shot, which may or may not be the desired effect. In manual mode, first set the aperture for the flash exposure (using Scott’s cheat sheet), and then dial in the shutter speed. The shutter may be from seconds to 1/250 or what your camera can handle for maximum flash sync. Some cameras, a little faster; others may be slower. Check your manual.

For example, you are in a normally lit room. The background is busy and distracting to your image. Setting the shutter speed faster will allow flash to illuminate and highlight the subject and the background will be dark. Light from the flash, falls off quickly. Again, the amount of fall off is controlled by the aperture.

Often subjects are beautiful with a light (such as the sun) behind them. However, you can make it look like the sun, by placing one flash behind the subject. Some of Scott’s images had the flash in-frame. This created the backlit highlights in the hair. Again, it is about creating light anytime and anywhere.

Scott manufactures his own radios and flashes that are reasonably priced. The last part of the evening was when he took orders. I was amazed at the response. It was a busy time trying to purchase all the gear and still get out of the center before 8:00. We managed to do it with one minute to spare. Afterwards, many of us headed over to Kenetics for dinner and Scott continued to share about his craft.

Check out Scott’s website at

Master photographer and internationally renowned photographer, Scott Robert Lim (Photog Cr., AOPA) is the 2009 Kodak Award recipient. He has won over 50 international awards. He is one of America's top photography educators. His work has been published in books and magazines all over the world and has taught and mentored many professional photographers worldwide. Scott is a popular international speaker with an exciting and inspirational style.

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