Why Flash? 

For better portrait photography.

By Mezame, Professional Photographer

There’s something about using a flash that gives portraits that extra edge. From having better control of light to being the light source that illuminates dark situations, incorporating an external flash from Sony opens a myriad of lighting styles that achieve a more compelling portrait.

With HVL-F60RM, you’ll be introduced to the avenue of bouncing the light with its unique Quick Shift Bounce feature. This allows the flash to tilt from horizontal to vertical for fast flash position switches (90° left and right, 150° up/8° down). You’ll have immense control over the light, enabling you to create various shooting styles that flatter your subject and set the overall mood and feel of your photos.

There are also the likes of High Speed Synchronization (HSS) and fast recycle time that have proven almost essential in challenging environments. For instance, HSS allows shutter speed adjustments to capture both subjects and ambient lighting, while the fast recycling time of up to 0.6 sec* performs in tandem with an Alpha camera on continuous shooting mode.

Another nifty feature includes the customizable buttons for quick access to functions in time-sensitive shoots, and not forgetting the cool add-on of colored gels to enhance the mood instantly.

For an in-depth demonstration, watch the video below, followed by my thorough explanation on how to attain those gorgeous portraits! 

Keep on reading for more about using flash for portrait photography!  

Accentuate your model's facial features

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With flash

01

 Without flash

Using the flash’s Quick Shift Bounce feature, bounce the light to form shadows that sculpt your model’s facial features. 

Shot with:

HVL-F60RM flash | FA-WRC1M wireless radio commander | Alpha 7 III (on-camera flash handheld) | FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM

68mm | 1/160 sec | F/7.1 | ISO 100

Set up

• 2 x flashes (mounted on light stands)
• 1 x small white card as a reflector
• 1 x remote trigger
• With the use of the flash’s unique Quick Shift Bounce feature, aim the flash at the reflector to bounce light off the model, and the other at the wall.

Set the mood with colored gels

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 With flash, with colored gel

03

 With flash, without colored gel

Set the mood in portraits instantly with colored gels, which come together with the HVL-F60RM.

Shot with:

HVL-F60RM flash with colored gel | FA-WRC1M wireless radio commander | Alpha 7 III (on-camera flash handheld) | FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM

68 mm | 1/160 sec | F/7.1 | ISO 100

Set up

• 2 x flashes (mounted on light stands; with orange and green colored gels)
• 1 x small white card as a reflector
• 1 x remote trigger
• With the use of the flash’s unique Quick Shift Bounce feature, bounce light off the reflector to cast a softer lighting on your subject.

Pro Tip: Achieve a duotone look by using the supplied color gels on the flash.

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 With flash, with colored gel

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 Without flash, without colored gel

Experimenting with flash with something as simple as window blinds and an orange gel can elevate a whole look. Colored gels come together with the HVL-F60RM.

Shot with:

HVL-F60RM flash with orange-colored gel | FA-WRC1M wireless radio commander | Alpha 7 III (on-camera flash handheld) | FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM

37 mm | 1/125 sec | F/8 | ISO 100

Set up

• 2 x flashes (both mounted on light stands) with orange colored gel
• 1 x small white card as a reflector
• 1 x remote trigger
• Place one flash right outside the window and with its unique Quick Shift Bounce feature, tilt it so that the light projection is aimed through the blinds-covered glass pane and at the model.
• Place the other flash indoors and with its unique Quick Shift Bounce feature, aim the light at the wall behind the model to recreate ambient lighting of the evening sun.

Pro Tip: Where you position the flashes is important to recreate this look. The further the flash from the window blinds, the more defined the shadows will become. If the flash is too close, the desired effect may not be achieved.

Take control of outdoor lighting

08

 With flash

07

 Without flash

An overexposed background is easily remedied with the use of a flash. Shadows are also better controlled to bring out the facial features of the models.

Shot with:

HVL-F60RM flash | Alpha 7 III | FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM

24mm | 1/6000 sec | F/2.8 (High Speed Synchronization mode on) | ISO 1000

Set up

• 1 x flash
•With flash, you can adjust your Alpha camera to High Speed Synchronisation mode to capture both the couple and the background in clear quality.
• This is achievable by using the flash’s unique Quick Shift Bounce feature to angle your flash towards or away from the couple. You can also point the flash upwards with the diffuser cap.

2 flashes

Capturing both the couple and the scenic backdrop in a shot is challenging to achieve with just ambient lighting. A flash is essential in this case. 

Shot with:

HVL-F60RM flash | FA-WRC1M wireless radio commander | Alpha 7 III (on-camera flash with tripod) | FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM

24mm | 1/1000 sec | F/2.8 (High Speed Synchronisation mode on) | ISO 800

Set up

• 2 x flashes (mounted on light stands)
• Making the most of the golden hour is valuable. With customizable buttons, drop the shutter speed to 1/1000 with the High Speed Synchronization mode to capture the ambient lighting. Also, open up the aperture wide (in this case, I used f/2.8) to achieve a beautiful bokeh effect, which also allows the flash output to hit the sensor
• Balance your flash manually to get the fill you need to light up the models

Pro Tip: If you need to soften the light, you can use the flash diffuser that comes with the HVL-F60RM. You can also rely on silver umbrellas, soft boxes, or even a huge white cardboard to achieve a softer light.

Achieve creative portraits

IMG02

Set flash to rear curtain synchronization mode to create mesmerizing light streak photography.

Shot with:

HVL-F60RM flash | FA-WRC1M wireless radio commander | Alpha 7 III (on-camera flash with tripod) | FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM

24mm | 2 sec | F/8 | ISO 320

Set up

• 1 x flash
• 1 x continuous light (a LED panel on 2 light stands)
• 1 x remote trigger
• With the HVL-F60RM’s unique Quick Shift Bounce feature, maintain the flash on the model but tilted at an angle
• Set the camera to fire at rear curtain synchronization mode to allow a 2-second long exposure in the shutter settings. This mode will capture the model at the tail end of his sprint
• Keeping in mind that the shutter speed setting determines the amount of ambient light, the camera will take in light from the continuous light source to illuminate the sprinting model. The light is just enough to capture the light trail of the sprinting model, instead of freezing the motion entirely

Pro Tip: Mount camera on a tripod and put to self-timer mode of 2-5 seconds to remove the risk of blurry photos.

IMG2

Sony flashes’ fast recycle time allows them to smoothly fire off multiple times in one exposure, freezing the talent’s movements to create ‘clones’. 

Shot with:

HVL-F60RM flash | Alpha 7 III | FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM

24mm | 2 sec | F/5.6 | ISO 250

Set up

• 2 x flashes (one mounted on camera, the other on light stand)
• Set camera to multi-flash mode
• Pair up camera with flash and light stand with flash via commander and receiver modes respectively
• Program the frequency and the no. of fire-offs on the commander flash

Pro Tip: A darker location will result in a cleaner and more crisp shot. 

Remember, practice makes perfect. Go on, grab a friend and take their picture with the flash! Yearning to learn more? Check out the links here and here where I show you how the same Sony flash can elevate the genres of food and product photography respectively. 

Mezame’s Gear

HVL-F60RM

High-speed flash

HVL-F60RM

FA-WRC1M

Wireless Radio Commander

FA-WRC1M

Alpha 7 III

Alpha 7 III

ILCE-7M3/ILCE-7M3K


FE 24-70 mm F2.8GM

SEL2470GM