Some of the most dramatic portraits and photos are a result of using the technique of off camera flash photography lighting.
In fact, the most unique photos are the ones that use interesting light. And, the best way to achieve this is to use light in a way that it creates the best type of shadows.
When the flash is coming from the camera itself the lighting creates flat subjects with very black shadows and harsh highlights. However, when you move the flash off camera your photos instantly convey a better sense of atmosphere, mood, dimension and shape because of the interaction of shadows and highlights.
Off camera lighting is easily provided by using a wireless master and slave unit.
The master is a device that is attached to the camera’s hot-shoe and it will send a signal to an off camera flash unit, which is known as a slave.
Depending on the unit the signals are sent as radio signals or by infrared light. At its basic level the master and slave is a remote-controlled flash which is movable.
A shoe-mounted flash is relatively inexpensive and it allows you to take quality photos without the need for large location or studio lighting systems. The flash units are quite compact and lightweight, making them easy to carry around. They also run on battery power which allows you to use them anywhere without the need for electricity. In addition, a lot of off camera flash systems enable you to have full TTL (through-the-lens) exposure control.
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Off Camera Flash Advantages
Some photographers feel off camera flashes are actually better than location or studio strobe lights since they provide you with several additional flash modes such as high-speed sync, stroboscopic, TTL, and manual shooting.
Also the majority of wireless flash devices can operate as a slave or master. An off camera flash lets photographers position their lighting just about anywhere without the need for wires. This means the light can be positioned above, below, around, or behind the subject and can produce some creative images because of this.
Even though most off camera flashes are less powerful and smaller than typical location and studio strobes, they’re usually more sophisticated. A shoe-mounted flash can actually create specialized lighting effects which the larger lights can’t.
Common Off Camera Flash Photography Lighting Setups
1) High-speed syncing
Most quality off-camera flashes will offer this.
This means you don’t have to rely on your camera’s slower flash sync speed.
You’ll able to shoot with flash at speeds of 1/1000th of a second and faster which allows you to use a wider aperture. This can result in some wonderful defocused backgrounds if the scene is lit with an off camera flash. You can also saturate and/or darken the background colors by using faster shutter speeds and underexposing. An underexposed background will spotlight the brightly-lit subject in the foreground. Conventional flash is typically brighter then high-speed sync flash, but you can increase the light by adding more units.
2) Group your lights
Some camera systems enable you to group the lights and adjust their collective output quite easily.
The advantage of this is that you can adjust the background and foreground lighting by placing them in a group and then adjusting the output independently.
3) Improved fill flash
You can cross-light your subject with several off-camera flash units from different angles. This will result in very soft light since each flash will be used as a fill light for all of the shadows that are produced by the others.
The best way to master off camera flash lighting for photography is to study the flash manual. You’ll also need to practice the different techniques individually and then try to combine them with a wireless setup off camera. Try to use objects found around your home or a close friend as your subject.
Once you’ve mastered the techniques you can then use them in a more professional setting and enjoy the amazing results it provides when lighting your photographs.
We hope you enjoyed these off camera flash photography tips and use them to improve your photos. Please leave a comment below sharing your experiences using flash on an off camera setting for others to learn from.