Posts Tagged 'Flash Photography tips'

Flash Photography Tips 6

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.
Flash photography


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

Flash Photography Tips 5

Slow Shutter Synch Flash Photography

Flash Photography Tips 5

Now that we’ve looked at the main differences between constant light (Ambient) and flash photography, it is time to experiment with some creative techniques in the wonderful world of flash photography. It may help if you basically consider flash photography as a double exposure picture, with one exposure for ambient light and the second exposure for the flash gun.

It may sound a little complicated and in our Flash Photography Classes we cover this topic in great detail. In the photo below I used ambient light to create a nice, attractive background and fired the flash to light the subject.

Flash Photography

By using Slow Shutter Sync, I manage to capture the light reflection and using the flash to capture the model.

What is Slow Shutter Synch?

Slow shutter synch means using a long exposure and the flash to freeze the movement. In the above picture I used a one second shutter speed and while I was rotating the camera, the flash fired and captured the subject. By rotating the camera it captured the lights in the background and created a nice pattern of movement, and when the flash fired it captured the girl’s image.

When does the flash fire during the long exposure?

It’s very important to know how the flash fires during a long exposure. If you use a TTL flash you have two different options for slow shutter synch: First (Front) curtain and Second (Rear) curtain. Most Manual flashes fire as soon as the shutter is fully opened (First/Front curtain).

What is First/Front Curtain?

This is the default setting for the flash synch, manual or TTL flash. The flash fires as soon as the shutter is fully opened and the shutter stays open to capture the ambient light and motion in the scene. It is an easy technique to create some nice effects such as Zoom Burst.

Flash Photography

Flash Photography is very creative provided you learn how to control the camera and the flash.

How about Second/Rear Curtain?

This technique is opposite of the First curtain, which means that the shutter opens but the flash does not fire until the shutter starts to close. This technique is very useful to show the motion of an object and the direction of movement. You can use Second/Rear Curtain with TTL or compatible flashes only. You need to set your camera or flash for this function (refer to the camera and flash owners manual for information about how to set Second/Rear curtain)

flash photography

In this photo the shutter opened, but flash didn’t fire till shutter started to closing and then flash fired to captured the subject.

Learning Flash Photography is a great way to take your photography skills to the next level. As I mentioned before flash photography means a double exposure, one with the ambient light and the next one for flash. The more you learn about these techniques the better you can capture the moment and not be limited by the ambient light. In the next article I am going to explain Off Camera Flash Photography. Go to our UPCOMING CLASSES page to find out more about Flash Photography Workshop.

Ted and the Omnilargess Team

Our next Flash Photography class is scheduled for July 6th and 13th. It is a 2 part workshop with lots of hands ons!

Flash Photography Tips 4

Manual Flash Photography

Flash Photography Tip 4

We discussed TTL flash photography in previous articles and in this article I am going to show you the advantages of Manual flash photography.

There are two distinct ways in which flash exposure is controlled – Manual flash or TTL flash. Just Like Manual Exposure, Manual Flash requires more attention to camera and flash settings. When you master these techniques, you will enjoy flash photography even more and be able to create amazing pictures. With manual flash, you adjust your settings to achieve a correct flash exposure. You can use a light-meter, or even the histogram, to get correct flash exposure.

As I mentioned before, correct flash exposure requires four things to be controlled and balanced:

– Aperture


– Distance (from the flash to subject)

– Power (the flash’s actual blitz of light, taking into consideration any diffusion)

You know about the roles of Aperture and ISO and for this article I am going to introduce the influences of Distance and Power.

Firstly, flash could simply be a constant amount of light that is emitted from the flashgun.  In the case of manual flash, there is NO control by the flashgun or camera, either with the intensity or duration of the pulse of light from the flash unit.

This is manual flash.  Photographers can control the output of their flashguns by adjusting the settings in fractions of the maximum possible output, ( 1/2 power, 1/4 power, 1/16 power, etc.). It should be obvious that the absolute value of ¼ power will vary from flashgun to flashgun, as each model and make of flashgun has a different maximum power.  The power of a flashgun is measured by GUIDE NUMBER; the higher the guide number the more output of power.

To recap, with manual flash we have four controls for the flash exposure:

– the actual output level from the flashgun, (the ratio of full or partial power),

– distance from our light source to the subject 

– aperture 

– ISO.

Any of these four variables can be used to control the amount of light falling on your subject.

Flash Photography

In Manual Flash photography, you need to adjust the power of flash out put to match the ambient light and distance to subject.

TTL vs. Manual flash photography

The only way to control TTL flash metering is with flash exposure compensation. While you could control manual flash exposure with any of the four variables mentioned above, with TTL flash you have one option and this is with your flash exposure compensation.

With manual flash, since the flash is a specific level, our subject’s reflectivity or our choice of composition (how we frame our subject) has absolutely no impact on our metering. This is a hugely important aspect of manual flash.  Once we have our lights set up at a specific distance, and determined our aperture and ISO…the subject’s reflectivity (how much lighter tones or darker tones there are) have NO effect on our flash exposure.

However, with TTL flash the subject’s reflectivity / tonality and our choice of composition WILL affect our flash exposure.   And hence, we often need to control our flash exposure with the flash exposure compensation.

The concepts explained in this section are so essential to our further understanding of flash photography that I strongly suggest re-reading this section until it makes sense.  Also check our Upcoming Classes page to find a workshop in Manual Exposure or Manual Flash Photography.  Gaining a solid understanding, both in theory and in practice, about flash photography will open up a whole new creative world to you. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about your flash and/or camera settings.

That is all for now. Stay tuned for more articles about creative uses of TTL and Manual Flash Photography, such as Slow Shutter synch and off-camera flash photography.

Ted and the Omnilargess Team

Our TTL Flash Photography workshop is scheduled for July 6th 2016. This is a 2 part workshop with lots of practical settings.

Flash photography Tips 3

Flash Photography Tips

Part 3: TTL Flash Photography special features

In previous articles I discussed the differences between constant light vs. flash photography and also some tips about TTL Flash Photography. In this article I am going to cover some important features of TTL flashes. Often photographers have asked me why TTL flashes are so expensive compared to non TTL flashes. The reason often comes down to convenience; below is a list of some of these conveniences.

1- Camera controls the output of the flash, so you have peace of mind that you always get correct exposure.

2- When you mount your TTL flash, your camera automatically sets the correct White Balance for Flash Photography, so you don’t need to worry about colour shift. Many of the new Nikon flashes (SB900, SB910, SB 710) come with colour correction filters; when you use these filters, the camera recognizes the colour filters and adjusts the White Balance accordingly.

3- Allows shooting using High Speed Synch (HSS).

What is High Speed Synch (HSS)?

High Speed Synch is one of the most useful features of TTL Flashes. High-speed synch flash is your DSLR’s ability to use a flash at shutter speeds faster than the camera’s native synch. Most cameras have a native synch of 1/200th of a second, and anything faster than that is beyond the camera’s ability to synch the shutter with the flash. But if you happen to be in a situation that requires faster shutter speeds to effectively capture the action, or for other aesthetic reasons (like a wide aperture), then you’ll over-exposure your image. However, high-speed synch flash/camera combinations allow you to use the flash at higher shutter speeds.

When are the times to use High Speed Synch?

High-speed synch flash is used when you want a shutter speed that is faster than your camera’s native flash synch speed, or when you want to use a wider aperture setting that requires a higher shutter speed as is often the case with outdoor daylight shooting. For example, you want to take an outdoor portrait and your TTL meter tells you that the f-stop should be f/16 with a 1/125s shutter. Those settings will give you too much depth of field, way too much actually. Nearly everything in sight will be in focus. Instead, what you want is a sharp subject, but a soft, blurred background, which would be achieved with an aperture of about f/2. That’s six stops of light difference, effectively putting your shutter speed up to 1/5000s. This is easily achievable by setting the flash to High Speed Synch. When you take your photo, you’ll have that beautiful, soft background that the pros get when shooting outside. You’ll also want to use HSS when you’re shooting with a telephoto lens, trying to capture fast action, using a fast shutter speed as well as a high f-stop. So in sports photography High Shutter Synch is ideal, and in some wildlife situations as well.

Flash Photography Tips

In this chart you see how by increasing the shutter speed and passing the synch speed effects the look of the photo

How does High Speed Synch work?

With a high-speed synch flash-capable camera and dedicated flash unit, all you do is set the camera to that setting. But how does it really work? Basically, at high shutter speeds the rear curtain starts to close before the front curtain fully opens. This way only a sliver of exposure moves across the image sensor. It is within this moving sliver of exposure that the flash fires, and voila! A high-speed shutter speed is synchronized to the flash. The flash does fire several times more during shutter traveling time than with standard flash mode. In standard flash mode, the flash fires once and the duration is much shorter than the time it takes for the shutter to move across the image sensor, and before the partially opened shutter covers part of the frame leaving large sections of black in your image. The underexposed black bands in the image is not good, to say the least!

Flash Photography tips

In High speed synch you can freeze the movement.

Stay tuned for our next article about Manual Flash Photography. Meanwhile head on over to our Upcoming Classes page and check out our exciting lineup of upcoming workshops. As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Ted and Omnilargess Team

Flash Photography Tips 2

Flash Photography Tips

Part 2: TTL Flash Photography

In the previous article I discussed one important aspect of the differences between Flash Photography vs. constant light photography, which is the shutter speed. In this article I am going to talk about TTL vs. Manual Flash Photography.

What is TTL flash?

TTL stands for Through The Lens. With TTL flash, the camera and flash control the flash output (i.e., the power) as you adjust any of the other settings. That’s it in a nutshell – the differences between Manual flash and Auto / TTL flash.

How does TTL work?

Flash metering is achieved through the lens, using the camera’s metering system as it analyzes the scene through the lens you’re using.

Nikon first introduced TTL (Through The Lens) flash technology in 1980. The basics of TTL operation is rather simple and applies to all camera systems. With TTL flash exposure, when the shutter is tripped, the light from the flash fires off, racing to hit the subject. Let’s look a little more in depth at how TTL flash works. When you press the shutter release, a TTL flash will fire a Pre-Flash before the actual shot and the camera measures the Pre-Flash with the ambient light level to calculate the power needed in the actual flash for the shot. Don’t try looking for a Pre-Flash though, it happens very fast, only milli- or micro-seconds before the main flash, so you will only see one flash, not two, because the human eye is too slow to able to separate and see the two individual flashes. (The Pre-Flash in TTL flash photography can cause blinking in some people.)

Why is it important to learn how TTL Flash Photography works?

In manual flash photography you need to constantly adjust the out put of the flash according to the ISO, F stop, and distance. With TTL flash, the flash output is varied and controlled by the camera’s metering system. This means that within a certain range, our chosen aperture or ISO, or distance to our subject, does not influence our TTL flash exposure.

Flash Photography

In TTL Flash Photography you can maintain the exposure for your main subject while changing the ambient light

This is such a crucial point to understand about TTL flash, that I want to mention it again for emphasis.

With TTL flash, our chosen aperture or ISO (within a certain usable range), does not affect our exposure – and in a sense becomes transparent to our exposure metering. (Our camera and flash work together in calculating what it deems to be correct flash exposure, by increasing or decreasing the output from the flash.)  What does affect our exposure, is the reflectivity of our subject, and how large our subject appears within our frame.

In other words:  Aperture and ISO do not control flash exposure when we use TTL. This is because the camera will tell the flash to emit more (or to emit less) light as the camera deems necessary for correct exposure.

Then how can I control the exposure in TTL flash?

The only way to control TTL flash metering is with Flash Exposure Compensation. While you can control Manual flash exposure with any of the four variables mentioned earlier, with TTL flash you must use flash exposure compensation to influence or make changes.

What is the better metering mode for TTL flash?

The best metering mode is Centre Weighted mode when working with TTL flash, for better results than with the other modes.

What is the best Exposure mode in TTL flash photography?

You can shoot TTL in any exposure mode, but the one I prefer is Manual exposure. Since your camera controls the flash output, in manual mode you can set your shutter speed (within the synch speed), ISO, and aperture according to how much of the ambient light you want to capture, and your flash would fire the correct amount of light to lighten the subject. I cover more about TTL exposure in our TTL Flash Photography Workshop with plenty of opportunities to shoot and compensate for ambient light.

That is all for now. If you want to learn more about Manual shooting check out our new Manual shooting in Field Photography workshop  on April 2. It is a full day of field photography where we are going to use only Manual exposure mode. Or check our Upcoming Classes to find more amazing photography workshops.

Ted and the Omnilargess Team

Flash Photography

Flash Photography Tips

Part 1: Flash Photography

Exposure is the main key in photography in general and with Flash Photography, exposure plays an important role for successful images. If your exposure is not correct you may get a darker or brighter picture.

Histogram in Over exposed photo

Histogram in Over exposed photo

Flash Photography

Sample of an Under exposed image

Correct exposure under constant (ambient) light is controlled by the dynamic threesome of:


-Shutter speed

-and ISO

The combination of these variable settings is what makes correct exposures.

Flash Photography

A correct exposure

How about exposures with Flash Photography?

Flash Photography is different from constant light photography for many reasons. One of the most important differences is the duration of flash. Usually the duration of flash is 1/1000s to 1/4000s; flash photography can be fun when you fully grasp the principles and learn some fundamental techniques.

How does such a short duration of a flash change the basic rules of exposure?

For correct flash exposure, four things need to be controlled and balanced:

– Aperture


– Distance (from the flash to subject)

– Power (the flash’s actual blitz of light, taking into consideration any diffusion)

Two things relate to camera settings, and two things relate to the flash itself. To really understand flash photography, it is essential to memorize those four things. You may have noticed shutter speed is not among these controls, and the reason is the duration of the flash. In the simplest of terms: regardless of what shutter speed you use, the duration of light that emits from the flash is around 1/1000s.

Does this mean I can shoot at any shutter speed in Flash photography?

One of the times shutter speed does come into play has to do with the SYNCH SPEED; if it helps to understand this, think of it as a maximum speed limit enforced by your camera and the only time it comes into play is when you use flashes or strobes. You can find the synch speed in your camera’s owner manual. The synch speed is usually under or around 1/200s.

Can you be more specific about Synch Speed? 

In normal flash modes, you need to ensure that the shutter speed is set at or below the ‘synch speed’ for your camera. DSLRs have sync speeds of either 1/200 sec or 1/250 sec, depending on the model; if use a faster shutter speeds part of the image will be obscured by the falling shutter curtain.

Can I use slower shutter speed for flash photography?

Slower than Synch speed is the most creative choice with flash photography. We will cover both techniques, including slow synch flash photography, later.

What if I want a super fast shutter speed in flash photography?

This is possible only if you use a TTL flash gun. This technique is called High Speed Synch (HSS) and we will cover this technique as well. So stay tuned for upcoming articles!

What role does distance have in flash photography?

It’s called Light Fall off. Light falls off because of something called the Inverse Square Law. The light spreads quickly and literally falls off (weakens); because of this spread, the distance from subject (and background) from the flash influences correct exposure.

What does this mean for flash photography? 

An object (like your background) that is twice the distance from a flash head will receive a quarter (1/4) of the illumination – or two stops less light. An object that is three times the distance receives one ninth (1/9) the illumination – or three stops less light. An object that is four times the distance receives one sixteenth (1/16) the illumination – or four stops less light, etc.

For more in-depth learning check our Workshop List  for complete list of workshops and field trips. We are going to have a TTL Flash Photography workshop on March 17 and 18. This two part workshop covers the most popular settings in TTL Flash techniques and will help you master the creative possibilities of flash photography.

Off Camera Flash Techniques

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


Flash Photography workshop

Flash Photography Workshop.

Flash photography techniques for beginners to intermediates

Flash photography is totally different from ambient light photography. There are several variables in flash photography that you should apply to achieve the best result. For example:  in flash photography you capture the light in a fraction of a second, therefore shutter speed does not play a big role in your exposure.

Off camera flash part of indoor flash photography techniques workshop

Off camera flash part of indoor flash photography techniques workshop

This is a 2 part workshop which covers the most popular and useful techniques for indoor flash photography.

Are you looking to be more creative with indoor flash photography and lighting techniques?

Did you know that flash photography can be so much fun when you understand how to use different settings in your camera and flash?

Come and join us for our very popular Indoor Flash Photography workshop and take your indoor photos to an exciting new level!

Part one is a classroom session and starts on Thursday April 9 at 7:00 to 9:00 pm and covers: 

1: Flash fundamentals techniques

2: Controlling exposure with flash 

3: White Balance and Flash Photography 

4: Shutter speed and Flash exposure

5: Aperture control in Flash Photography

Part two is the practical and hands on session which starts on Friday April 10 at 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm and covers

Hands on setting camera and flash for different indoor flash photography. There will be loads of practical assignments on:

1: Special Effects in Flash Photography

2: Ambient light and Flash

3: High Speed Flash Synch

4: Slow Shutter Flash Synch

5: Accessories for better Flash Photography

6: Light modifiers for Flash photography (Softbox, Grid, Bouncer, etc.)

And more!

This Indoor Flash Photography workshop is for beginner to intermediate photographers with a DSLR, mirror less cameras, and any point shoot camera with a hot shoe for external flash.

Join us for this popular class and you’ll gain skills and be able to apply beautiful lighting to the darker, short days of winter!

Ted and the Omnilargess Team

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