Photography Tutorials and Articles

Flash Photography Tips 6

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Flash Photography Tips 6

Part 6: Off Camera Flash Photography

While on-camera flash photography is creative and fun, off-camera flash photography can take you to a whole new world of creativity. In previous articles I discussed fundamental techniques of Flash Photography, basically for on-camera techniques. In this article we are going to look at some principles of off- camera flash and ideas for how to use this technique.

What is Off Camera Flash Photography?

Off Camera Flash Photography means that you use the flash gun off the camera hot shoe. It means that not only can you adjust the amount of light to your liking, but also you choose the angle and direction of light. You can use more than one flash gun to control or create different highlights and shadows. In simplest terms, you can have a small portable studio wherever you go!

What are the advantages of off camera flash?

To begin with, you can control the angle and direction of light. Also since the flash is not mounted on your camera, you carry less weight which can be a big bonus especially in long hours of shooting. With Off camera flash you can use different light modifiers such as an umbrella, soft box, grid, etc. to modify the light. Another big advantage is that you have complete control over the ambient light by increasing the flash output and place the flash closer to your subject.

Flash Photography

Off Camera Flash Photography Techniques

 

Can I use TTL in Off camera flash techniques?

Although in this article I am going to cover manual shooting for off camera techniques, you can use TTL as well. Using the TTL system, you need to invest more money on triggers and flashes though.

How does an off camera flash fire?

For your camera and flash to “talk to” one another you will need to use a wireless trigger. The starting price for a pair of wireless triggers is just under $100.
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One transmitter is attached to your camera’s hot shoe and the second one (receiver) is for the flash unit. When you take a picture the camera sends the signal to the transmitter and the transmitter sends the signal to the receiver to fire the flash remotely.

Flash Photography

Samples of Off Camera Flash Photography. Click on the image to see large size picture.

How about using the camera’s built in flash?

The built in flash in many new Prosumer DSLR cameras can work as a commander to fire another TTL flash or flashes remotely. This type of trigger works via an infrared beam which the built-in flash transmits to the remote (slave) flash unit to fire the correct amount of light.

Are there any disadvantages with an infrared trigger?

The biggest disadvantage is that the camera and remote flashes must be in line of sight to work properly. So if you place your off camera flash under a cover (such as behind a wall) the infrared beam cannot reach the flash and fire it. Another complaint about this method is that the camera’s built in flash has to fire, which means you may not get the exact effect you are after due to light from the built in flash.

I discuss TTL off camera flash in detail in our Flash Photography workshop. Check our Upcoming Classes to find the flash photography class and register.

That’s all for this short article. As always, please contact me if you have any questions.

Ted and the Omnilargess Team

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