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Old October 2nd, 2014, 10:17 AM
JAshley JAshley is offline
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Using off-camera flash

Off-camera flash technique involves setting up a flash unit away from the camera body. This is only possible with external flash units and not the pop-up flashes that come built-in with your camera. All DSLR cameras and some Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens cameras come with a hot-shoe for mounting accessories such as flashes.

Most amateurs, having bought an external flash, would prefer to mount it on the camera itself. This is however ill-advised. A flash fired straight on will create contrasting images. Dark shadows behind the subject, red-eye and unflattering skin tone are some of the problems that are associated with firing a flash straight on. This is the reason why professionals will almost never use the built-in pop-up flash.



Setting up a flash off-camera allows you to overcome these problems. One of the reasons you would want to setup the flash this way it to directional lighting. Directional lighting can be arranged to be softer or harsher depending on how far it is from the subject. If set closer to the subject directional lighting is softer and away from the subject it tends to be harsher. Both are necessary depending on the result you want.

External flashes can be fired in any direction you want just by turning the head. This is something that is impossible to be achieved using pop-up flashes. Bouncing the light allows you to immediately reduce the intensity of the light and create a more flattering result. When trying to do this, ensure that the ceiling is not too high.

Another reason why you would want to setup your camera this way is so that you can use a diffuser or a modifier. A diffuser further softens the harsh power of a speedlight because the light loses its intensity coming through the material. The resulting light is softer, more uniform and perfect for portraits. The same thing happens with a modifier, but in this case the light is reflected / bounced of a special fabric. Both diffusers and modifiers are large units requiring stands. Although smaller diffusers are available for flash units mounted on hot-shoe, the result is nearly not as good as off-camera flashes.


An external flash unit allow you to avoid problems like deeper shadows and red-eye that plagues pop-up units. When mounted off-camera ideally they are arranged in pairs. One of the lights is set to the camera left working as key-light and the other is set up at camera left working as the fill-light. The ratio between the two lights can be 2:1 or anything else that the photographer may want.

External flash units are synced with the camera, to fire in unison when the exposure is made. Usually the fastest sync speed is 1/250th of a second. Anything faster and there is a chance that you are likely to induce clipping. When buying external flash units ensure that you check the maximum sync speed of the unit.

Guide number is yet another important consideration when buying external flash units. Guide number is indicated in feet and is derived using the product of the maximum distance at which you can get a proper exposure using the reverse of a given aperture. Letís say the guide number of a unit is 80. It means at f/4 you can have a perfectly exposed image if the subject is standing at 20í (20 x 4). Using this formula you can figure out the respective distances for proper exposure at a given aperture. Remember, ISO is always expressed at 100 for this.
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Old October 2nd, 2014, 01:13 PM
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Sharna Sharna is offline
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Re: Using off-camera flash

Hi There. Nice tutorial. I'm not seeing any of the images though.
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Old October 2nd, 2014, 08:42 PM
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Re: Using off-camera flash

I see the images! Cute.

Additional info: Note that you should check the Guide Number as to whether its being described using feet or meters. Also you should check at what zoomed setting that Guide Number is using. The Canon 580's and 600 use their telephoto (zoomed head) settings for Guide Number.....its considerably less for normal-wide lens (or flash head zoom) settings.
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