Photography Tutorials and Articles

Off Camera Flash Techniques

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Off Camera Flash Techniques Part 2

Exploring ways to create a variety of portrait lighting with just one light 

In a previous article (Off Camera Flash Photography) I explained how the position of a light source can really change the look of your subject. In this tutorial I am going to show you some popular setups for Off Camera Flash Techniques, which can be used to capture outstanding portraits with just one flash and a reflector.

For the images in this tutorial I used:

  • One Nikon SB900 flash in Manual mode, set at 1/8 power, mounted on a stand.
  • One 32” Octagon soft box (as flash modifier)
  • One 32” silver reflector
  • Nikon D3 camera body mounted on a tripod, set on manual exposure with 1/125s shutter speed, Flash White Balance (it is important to set the white balance manually whenever you shoot with off camera flash), ISO 200.
  • Nikon 105 Micro lens with an aperture setting of f 8.
Off camera Flash

32″ Octagon Soft box

Basically that’s all the equipment you need for off camera single flash portraits! Here are some lighting diagrams showing how I placed the flash in different positions to achieve a variety of looks.

Off Camera Flash Techniques

One flash with soft box

Off Camera Flash Techniques

One flash with soft box behind the subject

Off Camera Flash Techniques

One flash with soft box behind the subject and reflector to fill the shadow

One flash with soft box and reflector to create Rembrandt effect

One flash with soft box and reflector to create Rembrandt effect

Portraits and a variety of Off Camera Flash Techniques

Now let’s take a look at the samples together.

Off camera flash

In this photo I placed the light (Flash and Octagon box) to the right side of the camera a little higher than the model’s head. Notice the shadow under the chin and eyes are dark. But the nose got very interesting depth.

Off camera flash

Same as image one, with the addition of a reflector to fill the shadows. Notice the eyes are brighter, the shadow under the chin is smoother and the nose maintains the nice shape.

 

off camera flash

I moved the light to the back of the model. Notice how the light on her face creates a moody effect.

Off Camera Flash

I opened up the aperture to allow more light in. Back lit subjects have a dreamy effect.

Off camera flash

I set the aperture back to f8 and added a reflector to create a romantic effect. Notice how smooth the light is.

Off camera flash

I moved the light to right side of the camera and at a slightly higher level. This is called Rembrandt Effect. This classical lighting is often used for business portraits.

Off camera flash

Adding a reflector can smooth the effect and create a softer, more romantic image.

Off camera flash

By rotating the octagon box towards the camera, I managed to reduce the light spill to the background. Notice the background is a darker shade of grey, while I maintained the Rembrandt effect on my subject.

Off camera flash

I placed the light right above the subject for another moody effect.

Off camera flash

Adding a reflector to bounce some light back to the face creates a very soft effect. Notice that the size of the eyes and the shape of the neck have changed.

 

That is all for now. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial about the variety of technique possible with only one off camera flash. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. Stay tuned for the next tutorial which will look at off camera flash techniques using two lights.

Our TTL Flash Photography class is scheduled for October 29 and 31. This two part workshop will explore the wonderful world of TTL flash photography, on camera and off camera flash.

Ted and the Omnilargess Team

 

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