Flash Photography – Off Camera Flash

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First, if you want to know more about Off camera flash photography , check out the Lighting 101 and Lighting 102 guides from Strobist Blogspot. The website is all about learning  how to use off camera flash starting from the beginning to all technical aspects.
Once you have tried a few times of your onboard flash, you will quickly realise the limitation of the very week onboard flash. Not only it is very weak (but still useful for some occasions) and has no  FP High Speed Sync mode, the lighting is very much directional and produces very harsh shadows to your subjects.
External flashes (Speedlights) helps to create a much more natural and balanced image by offering:
  • swivel flash head to allow bouncing the light off walls or at least a diffuser can be attached to help diffuse the harsh light,
  • a much longer flash shooting distance range (higher Guide number)
  • off camera trigger to operate as a remote flash, forming a powerful Creative Lighting System (CLS)
  • act as an commander to wirelessly trigger remote flashes (SB-900 and SB-800)

SB-900 and SB-600 off camera flash

Nikon SB-900 and SB-600 triggered by Nikon D700 onboard commander
Off Camera
With the luxury of external flashes, don’t be afraid to use them off camera. Off camera flash often produces less harsh shadow due to being able to position the flash off axis . This is much more desire than placing the flash on the camera to light up your subject front on.
A Diffuser is used to diverge the light (less concentrate) to give a soft light. The most simple way without any additional equipment is to bounce the flash light to reflective ceilings and walls. This effectively turns the ceilings and walls to a huge spotlight to create a much softer light source. There are many diffusers that can be used in conjunction with the speedlights:
Flash Diffuser Dome Flash Umbrella Softbox


Here I illustrate one of the most simple lighting setup, which works very well. First, position an umbrella on the left hand side about 45 degree towards the subject and then a silver reflector on the right hand side (or vice versa).  The idea here is to use the umbrella to create a diffused light source off centre and then use the reflector to fill in the shadows.

and the results


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About Kent Yu

Kent is a professional wedding and portrait photographer based in Wellington, New Zealand. He and his team specialise in modern and contemporary weddings. Kent has his work published in international magazines and is a regular author to a number of photographic publication. He is fascinated by photographic equipment and enjoys showcasing the gear used in creating his images. You can find him on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Google+
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