Malia Campbell Photography

Seattle Real Estate Photography by Malia Campbell

Shooting with flash

It’s been a slow process but over the past year I’ve been slowly incorporating artificial light (flash) into my images. I started with one light, off camera and bounced straight up into the ceiling or into the wall behind me. When I became comfortable with this I added a second, and then a third light.

Several weeks ago I spent some time shooting with Scott and let him mentor me through some flash only shoots. Sorting through my images, at the end of the day, made me laugh so I thought I’d share my pain experience with you.

No lights, just getting my window exposure.

Tried bouncing a light into the wall behind me.  Waaaay to hot and my shutter speed was too fast.

Slowed down my shutter and might have boosted my light.

Was getting some weird flare (bottom left).

Flash reflection in the bathroom door.

Turned off flashes to check windows again.  I think I decided I wanted to blow them out a little more.

Forgot to turn the PW back on.

I was pretty happy with this shot but decided I wanted to open the bathroom door.

Better comp.

I must have turned up my light because now I have a shadow on the window (CR).

Fixed it (probably turned down the light CR).

Decided I wanted a light in the bathroom because I’m sure Scott would have done that.
Final shot.

And here’s the final delivery shot:

Written by Malia Campbell Photography

September 9, 2010 at 11:53 am

Posted in How To

10 Responses

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  1. Haha, this is great seeing all the learning moments. :) Thanks for sharing. There is definitely something to be said for not having to spend hours after you get home from shooting. We’ve now done 150 houses all ambient with good results. Yes there are color cast issues, but nothing that can’t be fixed relatively quickly in lightroom or in the rare case photoshop.

    I think an important point is that using ambient lighting often gives a softer, more natural look. While flash certainly gives a uber-clean image, it tends to impart a cold, clinical, harshness. There’s a place for different styles, but I find most people are most interested in portraying a property in a warmer, cozy, more natural light, with all their little assorted issues.


    September 9, 2010 at 12:38 pm

  2. Looks great. Were did you put the strobe in the bathroom?


    September 10, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    • It was bounced into either the far left hand wall (opposite the vanity) or into the wall on the other side of the door. I can’t remember which direction I pointed it.

      TulipChain Photography

      September 11, 2010 at 11:46 am

  3. Somehow stumbled upon your blog — and am totally thrilled that I did!

    I look forward to reading more posts (and learning from you)!

    Thanks for the post!


    November 9, 2010 at 3:53 pm

  4. Great blog, Thank you for sharing your own learning experiences and for creating awesome video tutorials.


    March 23, 2011 at 10:06 am

  5. I would like to thank you for having so much ability and talent and the energy to share it. I’ve been watching DanAchatz and you for mentoring. Thanks again, I love what you are doing.


    Kenneth A Baker

    April 20, 2011 at 9:37 pm

  6. Hi, I stumbled on your blog from the PFRE site. Have watched a few of your vids on PP, they are great, more please! Secondly you got to be mentored by Scott. Jealous! Thirdly, I am starting out so forgive if this is a stupid question but on your second photo about you state that it is way too hot….I gather this too mean it is too bright?? The white is blown, that kind of thing…?

    If so, then I don’t understand the next one where you say you “slowed the shutter speed and boosted the light” because surely both those give more light making it even brighter? So I don’t get it!? Or am I getting the meaning of “hot” wrong?

    Thank you!


    June 1, 2011 at 8:23 am

    • Hi Sarah, sorry if that was confusing. Yes, “hot” means that a specific area is blown out by my flash placement (as opposed to an over all “blown out” which just means your exposure is wrong). The next part you reference, the shutter speed adjustment had nothing to do with me boosting the light. You can see that my shutter speed was too fast because of that black bar at the bottom of the frame. My shutter was too fast for my flash so I had to slow it down. I boosted the light because I moved the flash because of the hot-ness referenced in the previous image but the new location demanded more power from the light.

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