Multiple Flash Photography: Off-Camera Flash Techniques for Digital Photographers

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It's great to see such a clear and concise discussion. Home run Phil! I have taken a few camera classes and came out as dumb and confused as ever. I am a visual person. Show me, and I get it. And you have done just that.

You are easy to listen to, and right to the point. You have saved me hundreds of dollars on books and classes. I love the little tricks and tips on gadgets. I went out yesterday and shopped with confidence. Show me more, I can't wait. A fast track to great portraits. Phil, I really enjoyed the videos Your videos saved me a lot of time and money on equipment!

Your tutorials are amazing! Your first three videos alone have already saved me a lot of time and money on equipment, and I know I would have saved even more had I started your video course earlier! I like the way you break everything down to bare essentials so anyone can just start shooting right away. I'll definitely be looking forward to more of your videos in the future. Keep up the fine work!

I was really happy to see that your video had a lot of great photography tips in addition to the flash topics. And you did a great job of explaining why the shutter controls the ambient and the aperture controls the subject. That was worth it to me right there. You provided a great learning tool. Easy to understand, straight to the point—and best of all you "show" exactly how to proceed.

In less than one hour I got a complete overview of the benefits of this kind of shooting. These videos were outstanding! I learned so many tips and techniques that I can use immediately. Your teaching style and humor is greatly appreciated. I really enjoyed your behind the scenes camera shoot. Now I have the confidence and know-how to actually shoot more head shots and portraits. Money well spent! Phil, I must say that your training has been the best! I have learned more from your courses than from any other instructors out there.

Thanks and keep up the great training! It was a pleasure to have purchased this course! I can confidently say that it was my money well spent.

Multiple Flash Photography: Off-Camera Flash Techniques for Digital Photographers

I am a newbie and have learnt quite a lot from your videos. They are quite practical and informative. I wish you would do more of these. You are a credit to the photography industry. I spent a lot of years and a boatload of money learning exactly which equipment was required for off-camera flash—and what wasn't. Now, I'm going to help you skip the expensive learning curve by showing you exactly what I learned by purchasing and using nearly all of the available options for small-flash photography.

By the time I was finished, I was shooting headshots for actors and making good money shooting portraits—all with equipment you can buy very inexpensively, if you know exactly what to buy, and exactly how to use it. But watch out , because if you follow the advice of many "experts" out there, you can waste tons of money and get results no better than what you can get on a shoestring budget. Believe me, I did that myself before figuring out what was essential and what wasn't.

This multi-layer Photoshop technique is the single greatest method I've ever seen for creating beautiful-looking skin. Once you learn these simple steps, you'll use it again and again to give your subjects that flawless studio-model look or not—you can blend it to any degree, from undetectable to full-on glamour magazine glow. You have total control. In this free bonus video, I'll walk you through the entire process, step by step in Photoshop, while you look over my shoulder. And when amazed, delighted clients ask how you got their skin to look so perfect, you can just smile.

Sometimes the best place for your flash is in your camera bag! In this free, minute bonus video you'll learn when, where and how you should opt for a simple reflector instead of pulling out the lights. Watch as I discuss the equipment and camera settings, shoot the model, point out potential problems,describe how to make your own low-budget reflectors, and edit the photos in post-production. If you're unsatisfied in any way, I'll gladly refund your full purchase price with no questions asked.

You have no risk! Special Limited Time Price! Get it before the price goes back up! Remember, you can watch the videos online immediately, or at any time that's convenient for you, forever. You own it! You can come back and watch any video at any time! Your "new visitor" discount expires soon:. Phil Steele - Steele Training. Wish you could get that "professional" look without the cost of big studio equipment? See Customer Testimonials.

Here's what you'll learn: Learn how you can save money and take amazing photos with off-camera flash—the new, easy, inexpensive, portable way to take professional photos without expensive studio gear! Discover the four crucial, inexpensive pieces of equipment you need to get the flash off your camera and don't worry, if you don't have a speedlight flash yet, I'll tell you which kind to buy to avoid over-spending Watch me go through 4 photo shoots with live models , revealing all my off-camera flash secrets. Watch this video to see why you need off-camera flash.

Here are some screenshots of what you will learn! An on-camera flash is an indispensible accessory for many photographers; it provides additional light when conditions become too dark to handhold your camera comfortably, allows you to achieve more balanced exposures in daylight conditions, permits freezing of fast-moving subjects and can also be used to control or trigger other flash light sources.

Additionally, a flash can be used as a highly effective creative tool to establish an aesthetic that elevates your imagery when lighting conditions are considered less than stellar. The benefits of an external on-camera flash far outweigh those provided by a built-in camera flash, while the only drawback is keeping an additional piece of equipment.

The term on-camera flash simply refers to a type of strobe light flash that can connect directly with your camera. On-camera flashes can, and often are, used off-camera. This differs from other strobe-light sources, such as studio pack strobes and monolights in that these types of strobes are not meant to be physically connected to your camera except under rare and unusual circumstances involving convoluted methods of adaptation.

Additionally, on-camera flashes usually have a self-contained power supply, although external power sources can sometimes be used to improve performance or battery life. On-camera external flash also refers to the type of external flash that can be used on your camera, compared to a built-in flash that is integrated into many cameras. An on-camera external flash performs better than a built-in flash in almost every regard with the one exception that it is not built into your camera.

The ability to take the flash off your camera results in a significantly greater number of lighting options; far more than simply providing a blast of flat light to the scene to facilitate an adequate exposure. It is often not desirable to have your flash pointed squarely at the scene at hand; more often than not you will want to bounce the flash light off other surfaces and point in other directions to control the look of your flash. When using an in-camera flash, you are forced to use the flash at the given angle from which it extends.

Red-eye occurs because pupils dilate in dim light, the built-in flash is aligned with the lens's optical axis, its beam enters the eye and reflects back at the camera from the retina at the rear of the eye, which is quite red. Being able to use an on-camera flash source off-camera, from a different angle, will help to eliminate the red-eye effect in your photographs of people. This is directly related to having an understanding of exposure ratios—how shutter speeds and apertures affect and balance each other—even though auto-exposure metering is available and often utilized for determining the best exposure settings.

Guide numbers are the standardized, numerical way of determining the power of a flash, with a higher guide number representing a more powerful flash. This calculation directly refers to the Inverse Square Law, which states that a specified physical intensity of light is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the source of the physical intensity. Another variable to consider is that all of these values assume you are using your flash at full power; often, you can control the flash output of your strobe in increments to either save on battery life, provide faster recycle times, or to control your exposure more when working in closer situations.

This flash power variable can easily be compensated for in the guide number equation by reducing one of the other variables. It should also be noted that in most instances, controlling your exposure in-camera when working with flash should only be done by modifying your aperture. This is because the precise duration of a flash is substantially less than most shutter speeds; if you compensate for your exposure by using a faster shutter speed you will not see any change in exposure because the flash is essentially performing the role of the shutter.

The fastest recommended speed at which your camera can record an image when using flash is called the "sync speed. This will result in blocked or blacked-out areas of the image the part of the shutter that couldn't clear the path in time. Conversely, you can make exposures longer than the maximum sync speed and still produce a fully-exposed image; however, depending on this length, other consequences or benefits may occur. While flash is often used to illuminate a scene entirely, either because of low-light conditions or because you are using a small aperture to gain additional depth of field, flash can also be used in combination with ambient exposure to provide additional creative benefits.

Relating back to sync speed, if you're using a shutter speed that is similar to what would be required of an ambient, regular exposure, in conjunction with flash, you will be mixing both ambient and flash light. This technique is called dragging the shutter and can be utilized to highlight specific objects or subjects within a scene.

An example would be photographing a field or bush at dusk; while the foreground and surrounding areas are very dark, there is more light available in the sky regions of the scene. A way of rendering this type of scene would be to use your flash to illuminate the nearer regions, and then letting your shutter stay open longer to capture the ambient light of the sky.

This will provide exposure to adequately render both the darker and brighter portions of the image within a single frame. Additionally, this technique works well for freezing movement in darker light; by using the flash to freeze and illuminate the moving subject, and then keeping your shutter open to properly expose the background. Similar in concept, but using the opposite protocol, is fill flash. Fill flash is a technique in which you use your strobe to essentially fill in areas of the scene, either because they are darker than surrounding areas or to intentionally darken the background to better illuminate a nearer subject.

This technique can be used during daylight or in well-lit situations, even if the ambient exposure is appropriate for handheld use, where there is a discrepancy between the exposure values of the foreground and background i. To properly use fill flash, first meter your subject and then meter the background.

This difference in exposure values is what is to be made up by use of flash exposure.

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Once you have determined the difference, you set your camera to properly expose the background values knowingly you will be underexposing your subject then you set your flash to account for the difference in stops between the two regions. This will render both areas of the image properly, giving you a more balanced, evenly lit exposure.

This tool can be further manipulated to intentionally render your nearer subject brighter than the background, to give it more prominence. All of the previous tools and systems can effectively be utilized with your flash when set to manual operation. This is ideal for creative use, and becomes easier the more familiar you are with certain working situations; however, it sometimes cannot be the most practical or fastest method, considering the availability of automatic flash metering.

Automatic in-camera calculation of flash metering is usually done using a TTL, or through-the-lens method. This flash then sends out a burst of light, a pre-flash, which will strike the subject and reflect back through the lens. This returning light is directed to an exposure meter, which will determine how long the true exposure should be to properly expose the subject. Additionally modern TTL systems will also work in conjunction with certain lenses, which further benefit TTL accuracy by being able to factor in your camera-to-subject distance. Depending on where your focus point is set, the flash will deliver enough power to properly expose a subject at that distance.

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Exposure compensation, as well as dedicated settings, also allows you to control fill-flash amounts when working with TTL, further enabling more controlled and consistent flash shooting. On-camera flashes can roughly be divided into two classes: those that feature moving rotating or tilting flash heads and those that do not. The strobes that do not have a moving flash head have the benefit of being more compact, but outside of that their usability is significantly less than that of a strobe featuring a flash head that can tilt, and even better, one that can rotate.

A flash with no movements is similar to an in-camera flash you might already have, and when mounted on your camera, it will always output light in the same square, front-facing direction. These flashes do often have more power and manual controls than your in-camera flash, though. However, once you add the ability to move your flash head, you can suddenly gain much greater control and a variety of options regarding how to direct the light falling on the subject.

Light that is pointed directly at your subject is typically very harsh light, producing deep shadows and having a quick light fall-off from your subject to the background Inverse Square Law. To render a similar scene with softer light, you can tilt your flash head to bounce your light off a nearby wall or the ceiling in order to broaden its directional quality.

Once the flash light strikes a wall or a ceiling, that surface is being converted into a much larger light source than your flash itself. This omnidirectionality helps to lessen the effects of the Inverse Square Law, since the light source is larger, and will produce less harsh shadows with more even lighting. Even better than the ability to point your camera-mounted flash away from your subject is the ability to remove your flash from the camera entirely and point it in any direction and at any angle you wish.

This can be accomplished in a number of ways; either by way of a wired connection or a wireless connection. A wired connection simply requires running a sync cord between your flash and your camera. Make sure to have a cable with compatible connections to both your camera and your flash.

Creative Photography off camera flash for beginners

Flashes often have a kind of proprietary connection, or sometimes also support more standardized connections such as a household plug or a miniphone, photo, or sub-mini jack. These cables usually feature a PC connection at the other end to provide a connection to your camera. If your camera does not have a PC sync socket, there are also adapters available that slip into your hot shoe and provide a PC connection from there.

If you're not handholding the flash, you can easily remove the flash from your camera and mount it to either a stand or a flash bracket. A flash bracket enables you to place your flash off to the side or above the camera, and usually gives you a bit more freedom as to the orientation in which you can place your flash and the direction you point it. A wireless system affords you the most creative control, as the boundaries of how far away your flash and camera can be are practically limitless, and you can also work with multiple flashes for more creative lighting setups.

Wireless flash is a complete entity unto itself, but as a briefing, there are essentially three types of wireless triggers: infrared, radio and optical. Beginning with the most basic, optical triggers commonly referred to as slaves or optical slaves are a small addition to your flash that enables wireless triggering once the slave detects a flash of light. These slaves come in an assortment of connections, typically household plug, 3. Determine which connection type is compatible with your specific flash before considering anything else when using an optical slave.

Once properly paired, you simply connect the slave to your flash and utilize another flash in order to trigger it. It should also be noted that many modern flashes contain a built-in optical slave, which eliminates the need to add an optical slave; they are mostly for use with older flashes or in circumstances where you might need an especially highly sensitized slave.

One other note regarding optical slaves is to account for the pre-flash that will occur when using TTL flash metering. Some optical slaves have a function to automatically ignore this pre-flash, while on others, you must manually disable the pre-flash either through your camera or the master flash you are using to trigger the optical slaves. The other method of wireless triggering is through the use of an infrared or radio system. One of the main advantages of these is that you do not require a hard-wired flash in order to wirelessly trigger a group of flashes or even a single flash; your entire lighting setup can be controlled from a transmitter connected to your camera.

When working with a wireless transmitter and receiver system, you will connect one unit to each flash needed and one to your camera; this provides a remote method of communication between your camera and flashes to trigger flashes, and sometimes a means to even control the power output of individual flashes. This method can also function well if using a single unit on your camera and main flash, then utilizing optical triggering to set off subsequent flashes. Another benefit to these triggering systems is that some flashes contain a built-in infrared receiver, saving you the need to attach an auxiliary one.

When working with radio transmitters, it is less common for flashes to have built-in receivers, unless working with proprietary transmitters and higher-end flashes. An infrared triggering system is similar to an optical method, but as the name implies, it utilizes infrared wavelengths to transmit the flash signal. This has a benefit over an optical trigger, as you do not need an on-camera or directly tethered flash to trigger your exposure, which can affect your exposure and limit the means of how you light your image. An infrared transmitter is essentially a low-powered flash with an IR filter over the front of it; when it emits a burst of light, the IR filter attenuates most of this light and converts it to an infrared signal.

With these drawbacks in mind, IR systems do have the advantage of being able to handle extremely fast sync speeds, due to the lack of time needed to compensate for a radio transmission. The last, and most sophisticated method of wirelessly triggering flashes, is through the use of a radio transmitter and receiver system.

Off-Camera Flash Systems for the Wedding Photographer | B&H Explora

Radio remotes have the advantage of being completely non-reliant on optics and do not require a line of sight or certain lighting conditions to function properly. They can operate across numerous channels, which greatly enhances photographing with wireless flash in situations where multiple photographers are working. Their other main benefit is that some radio systems integrate full TTL compatibility, which gives direct connection between the flash and your camera for controlling flash exposure. Many radio slaves also have dual functionality, deeming them transceivers, which allows the same units to be placed on either cameras or flashes.

Transceivers can usually be set to transmit or receive, which helps to further dial in the specific purpose of them under certain circumstances. As previously mentioned, one of the defining characteristics of an on-camera flash is a self-contained power source. This convenience is certainly appealing when compared to portable strobe packs featuring batteries that alone can weigh more than 20 lb; however, AA batteries are also not that powerful.

Flash is a power-craving tool that requires battery power and quantity in excess of typical camera batteries. Rather than favoring a dependency on numerous AA batteries, it is beneficial to use an external battery pack if you use flash on a regular basis. Auxiliary battery packs are often compact in size, for carrying in a pocket or attaching to a belt, and connect to your flash via a dedicated cable. Packs contain an internal, rechargeable battery; a removable, rechargeable battery; or in some instances, are simply a means to bundle several AA or other common battery type together to more efficiently provide longer battery life versus changing out batteries from the flash itself.

In addition to longer battery life, battery packs also often allow for faster recycle times—meaning you can fire your flash more rapidly with less time in between bursts. Often only higher-end flashes will support the use of an external battery pack, since they are more typically put through longer shooting times and more strenuous conditions. As it would when looking for any other camera equipment, purchasing a flash should be heavily dependent on your needs to ensure it has the features you will use and will best suit the applications for which you intend to use it.