Getting Started With Off-Camera Flash

by David Peterson

Those of you who read my tips know that I don’t have a very high regard for flash. I think it usually gets in the way of taking a good photo, and it tends to suck all of the natural beauty from your images. If you want a sure-fire way to turn a potentially good image into something so-so, just turn on your flash, get up close your subject, and take the shot.

But today I want to talk about something different. I want to talk about off camera flash, what it does differently, and how to get started with using it. I want to provide you with an understanding so you can go and start pursuing it on your own.

Why use off-camera flash? What’s different about it?

Image by Banditos by Flickr user Amin Choc]


Why use off-camera flash? What’s different about it?

There’s a reason those pictures you take with your on-camera flash look so dull and amateurish. It’s because you’re shining a light directly at your subjects, and it’s reflecting directly back into the camera. Just like a deer in headlights, your subjects look pale and lifeless. Simply put, the light from a flash is just too harsh for it to look natural when fired directly at your subjects.

Flash also causes red-eye when fired straight on. The light from a flash reflects off of the blood that naturally circulates through your eyes to keep them healthy and functional. When the light is particularly bright (as it is with a flash), a lot of red light gets reflected back toward the lens.

How to take pictures with an off-camera flash

Use off-camera flash to
create mood lighting in situations
where it would otherwise
be unavailable

By taking the flash off of the camera and using it somewhere else in the scene, you are making the light from the flash less harsh and bringing more of it under your control. You can say goodbye to red eye, and hello to a world of new creative possibilities. Now you no longer have to light everything from the front. You can create shadows and play with contrast, all while creating a more natural look in your photos.

What you need to get started

Half the reason most people don’t start using off-camera flash is because it’s expensive, sometimes prohibitively so. Some setups require wireless remote triggers and multiple flash units, all at a cost of around $2,000. There are other ways to do it, of course, but you will still have to pay for a good flash unit, and those will cost you at least $300. I hate to say it, but this is one of those areas where paying for good equipment does help out.

If you would like to read the rest of this artical, please go here: How to take pictures with an off-camera flash

Getting Started With Off-Camera Flash