Tag Archives: flash

Coming to grips with flash again

Having purchased a new flash which only works in manual, I found myself having to refresh my memory on the workings of speedlights. I had taken an 8 week course on flash photography back in 2012 but did not have much opportunity to use what I had learned and have forgotten most of what I learnt on the course. So I’m finding myself working through some tutorials again.

I have always been pretty darn hopeless with maths so as soon as numbers get thrown at me I become very flustered. I was watching the video below on flash guide numbers and started to do the prescribed calculation on the computer calculator. Now apparently my Yongnuo YN660 has a guide number of 217 – nowhere in the manual does this number state whether it is feet or metres. Makes a difference, right? On the video the presenter explains that one has to divide the guide number by the distance and this will give you the aperture to use. The example he had was that his flash was zoomed at 105mm, had a GN of 112 and light source was 10 feet away from subject giving him an aperture of f11. Sounds simple enough. Well for the life of me I kept on getting an aperture setting f66 which couldn’t possibly be right. I really don’t know what I was calculating – maybe I threw the zoom figure into the mix, I really don’t have a clue.

Anyway today I decided to tackle this again. Went online and searched for a few sites to find the guide number of this flash and came across a site that stated the GN was 66 metres, and another which stated the GN was 217 feet. So I threw all the numbers into an Excel spreadsheet and punched in the formulas. Aha – the picture is looking a little better now. At 3 metres, full power my aperture should be f22. Now I can plug in the aperture settings for 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 power and on.

I also read a couple of Neil van Niekerk’s postings- one on dragging the shutter– balancing flash and ambient light.

  • For ambient exposure there are three controls:
    • aperture
    • ISO
    • shutter speed
  • For flash exposure there are four controls:
    • aperture
    • ISO
    • distance (light source to subject – closer = brighter)
    • power (increase/decrease – affects exposure)

There are two common denominators when we compare the two types of exposure: aperture and ISO. This means shutter speed becomes an independent control for available light source. The shutter speed won’t affect anything because the flash is instantaneous, while the ambient light is continuous.

The other video tutorial I watched again was Neil van Niekerk explaining how he used his “Black Foamie Thing” light modifier. I had made one of these for myself years ago but never actually got around to using it. Written explanations are on this page. I tried it out last Friday and seem to be getting the hang of it but want to get a little more comfortable with it before I post some images.

Reference List

Adorama TV (2016) Flash Guide Number – OnSet ep. 70 [user-generated content online] Creat. Adorama TV. 1 February, 2016. 4 min 48 secs. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TtEoxhE9n4 (Accessed 30 January, 2017)

van Niekerk, N. (n.d.) Dragging the Shutter [online] Neil van Niekerk Tangents Photography Blog. Available at: http://neilvn.com/tangents/flash-photography-techniques/dragging-the-shutter/ [Accessed 30 January, 2017]

van Niekerk, N. (n.d.) Video tutorial – Using the ‘black foamie thing’ [online] Neil van Niekerk Tangents Photography Blog. Available at http://neilvn.com/tangents/flash-photography-techniques/bouncing-flash/ [Accessed 30 January, 2017]


Making sense of the manual

During my last assignment my Nikon SB-700 speedlight crashed to the ground breaking the battery door hinges. I’ve spent some time since trying to obtain a replacement door but some of the prices run to more than a generic new flash. So in order to shoot my next assignment I purchased a Yongnuo YN660 flash – a great price by the way – only $76! I’ll take my time looking for a replacement for the Nikon SB-700, but I’m not prepared to pay $99 for a replacement battery door.

Yongnuo YN660
Yongnuo YN660

The Yongnuo arrived today and I’m quite impressed with the build. Really sturdy and no plastic door hinges! But the manual leaves much to be desired.  So for some comic relief here are some of the instructions:

  • To avoid any possible safety accident, please do not use the flash on people who is focusing attention.
  • Please take out the batteries and stop using this product immediately in case of the following situation:
    • This product is dropped or shocked seriously and the inner part of this product is bared.
    • This product gives off strange smell, heart or smokes.
    • This product because the internal high voltage circuit may cause the electric shock.
  • Supports wireless master control fucntion
  • One YN660 can respectively accepts the signal transmitted from YN 660 …. with 16 channels for option; when YN660, … used as transmitter, it can realize remote flash parameter adjustment.
  • Please press each button and observe the diplay content on the LCD screen to learn the function of this product. Isn’t this supposed to be the manual’s function?
  • To avoid circuit, please do not use damaged batteries.
  • The meaning of [Sound Prompt]: tick twice = speedlite started/sound switch enabled/flash enabled; three tick, two times = speedlite in charging status; continuous rapid sound = lack of electricity, the speedlite is about to shut down; tick-a long sound = the speedlite is fully charged, flash enabled.

YN660 User Manual

I must confess I almost cracked up when I was reading about the sound prompts – I mean what on earth is a “tick-a long sound”? I guess definitely not something you might mention to a US customs official :-)!

All I can say is thank goodness I have a Nikon speedlight manual where I can get some technical help and hallelujah for Youtube!


Yongnuo Digital YN660 User Manual