Free Photography Education

I wrote a blog last May about Photography Education and Inspiration. In it, I point readers to web sites where they learn about photography. Another great resource is Webinars and Webcasts. Top industry professionals and merchants often give hour-long classes on various topics. Often, if you can’t watch it live, you can go back and watch a recording. The following is a list of resources in no particular order.

1.) Creative Live. This Seattle-based group offers workshops that span 8-hours over three days (usually Fri-Sun) on topics such as; wedding photography, studio lighting and children’s photography. They get top-notch pros like Jasmine Star and Zack Arias to teach the workshop live. You can register and watch it for free or pre-purchase the entire show before the workshop ends at a discounted price. Once the workshop is over, you’ll have to pay more for the download. There’s a workshop starting tomorrow with Vincent LaForet for photographers looking to move into shooting video with their DSLRs.

2.)Peachpit Photo Club. The publisher of many photography books also hosts live webcasts with the likes of: Canon Speedliter, Syl Area; wedding photographer David Ziser and Photoshop Gurus, Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski. You can watch past webcasts on the site or register for upcoming shows.

3.)OnOne University. OnOne makes Photoshop plug-ins so, yes, their webinars are a little biased toward their products. But you can still learn from top photographers and see their editing workflows. Check out this link for a calendar of upcoming classes.

4.) X-Rite Photo. This is another merchant that is pushing its product while spreading some knowledge. There’s a webinar scheduled for today, in fact, about getting started in Lightroom.

5.) Friday Photo School. Every Friday there’s a new class on topics such as off-camera flash, posing and portrait lighting. They do offer the occasional free episode and you can download them from the archive. Most of the classes, however, cost $10 to watch or $15 to download later. Be sure to check out the library for the free ones.

In past blogs, I’ve already mentioned Kelby TV, which is the central location for shows such as: Lightroom Killer Tips, Photoshop User TV, Ask Dave and D-Town TV. On Monday, Scott Kelby is launching a new live show at 12:30 EST called “The Grid”.  It’ll be available to watch later if you can’t make the live broadcast.

So there you have it. It’s like going to photography school without the tuition! Yes, it requires a time commitment, but if you want to be a better photographer, what better way to do it than to spend some time with the pros offering a free education?


How to Optically Trigger Your Canon 580EXII Flash

Canon 580EXII Speedlite with Optical Adapter

The Canon 580 EXII with Optical Trigger Adapter

Before I begin, let me say that I cannot take credit for this. I learned about it on Syl Arena’s blog. His blog post,  “The Truth About Canon Speedlites & Optical Slaves” opened my eyes to something I didn’t think was possible with Canon Speedlites and I was so excited that I just want to tell others about it.

A little background: I have the Pocket Wizard Mini and Flex triggers to fire a 580EXII wirelessly. What I wanted, was for that speedlite to fire a second 580EXII using Canon’s built-in wireless controls. If you have one flash mounted on the camera, you can use the built-in “master” and “slave” controls to fire multiple flash units that are off-camera.

[NOTE: If you have the Canon 7D or later model, you can use the pop-up flash to trigger an external flash. But keep in mind what is happening. The pre-flash from the pop-up is sending a coded message to the external flash. This is not radio transmission nor is it optical. You also have to make sure that the pop-up does not fire, which would show on your subject. You have to set it so it only fires the pre-flash.]

My assumption was this: The Pocket Wizard materials say that when the Mini is on your camera and the flash is on the Flex, that your camera essentially thinks the flash is still on the camera. The transmitters communicate all the information from camera to flash and vice versa. I also knew that Canon flashes, unlike Nikon, do not have optical slave eyes. This means that a Canon flash cannot be triggered when it sees another flash fire. Fine. I thought that it could still trigger a second flash using my Pocket Wizards. Not so.

Then I read Syl’s blog about a little tiny adapter that you can buy for less than 20 bucks that will serve as a slave eye for a Canon flash! I’ll let you read the post for the details, but here’s the skinny:

Go to and get the GREEN PC-adapter. The adapter plugs into your…wait for it…PC port on the side of your 580EXII (pictured above). Both flashes need to be on “manual” for this to work. So here’s the set-up. Flash #1 is off-camera on a Pocket Wizard Flex, being triggered by the Mini on my camera’s hot-shoe. This flash fires and triggers the adapter plugged into Flash #2 which is also off camera. Hallelujah it works!

I thought about buying another flash that has an optical slave eye for $150. OR I could buy another PW Flex for about $200. But for just $19.95 (shipping included) I can now use two off-camera speedlites. This opens up a whole new world of creativity.

If you’re a Nikon shooter, you’re probably laughing at all this.  I have my own list of pet-peeves against Canon speedlites, but I first heard of Syl when he wrote his manifesto-like  “My Canon Speedlite Wishlist which rings so true. Nikon just released its SB-700. If Canon is going to release a new flash, I hope they listen to Syl.

Lastly, I just want to say a quick word about FlashZebra. It seems like a small operation; payment is through PayPal and my invoice had a personal thank you message. I thought that was a nice touch. I ordered the adapter on a Friday and I had it by the following Wednesday. All in all, a good experience.

Hope this helps you as much as it helped me!