For newbies: basic tips for off-camera flashing lights

Off-camera flash (flying lights) seem to be a very complicated for beginners, but as long as you understand some points, and start with simple settings, you can learn to use flash!


Basic off-camera Flash Equipment

To use off-camera flashes to take photos, you need some light sources. For ordinary users, an ordinary external flash can already do the job. When choosing a flash, it is best to choose lamp heads that can be adjusted. It is convenient to change the direction of the flash; and if possible, choose some that can be connected to an external battery and use the camera’s synchronization cable. Although the external battery box can increase the return speed and durability, it is not necessary.

The next step is to connect an external flash to the camera! The cheapest and traditional method is to use a flash sync cable. Note that the plug of the flash sync cable of each camera may be different. Please choose by model when purchasing. There are some more convenient options, like wireless synchronizers. There are many such synchronizers on the market, such as Phottix ODIN flash, or domestic brand Yongnuo RF-603 II.

The last equipment is the bracket for the external flash. The flash rack is not expensive, and it is generally available in camera equipment stores, such as Manfrotto’s 5001B , or a mainland brand, or you can place the flash directly on the chair or table.

Off-camera Flash Light Demonstration

The following demonstration uses three types of equipment-Canon 6D, a Canon 580 EXII flash, two wireless flashes, and a light stand. The object to be photographed is a wooden sculpture placed on a bamboo mat, and the background is covered with a brightly colored cloth; beside it there is natural light entering from the outdoors, like the following photo:

For newbies: basic tips for off-camera flashing lights

Take photos without any flash at the beginning:

  • Aperture: f/2.8
  • Shutter: 1 /160s
  • ISO: 250

The effect of shooting with only natural light is not bad, but the left side is dark due to insufficient light:

For newbies: basic tips for off-camera flashing lights

It’s time to make the flash appear! The external flash usually has several buttons, but the first thing you need to know is the “Mode” mode. Pressing the Mode button will allow you to switch from “ETTL” (automatic) to “M” manual mode. When you plug the flash into the camera, ETTL can play a big role, but when using the off-camera trigger, it is best to use the full manual mode, which can more effectively control the output of the flash and use it Effect.

After selecting the “M” manual mode, you can control the output of the flash. 1/1 is the full output and 1/128 is the minimum luminosity (actually it is only the duration of the output and not the actual intensity, which will be discussed later). The following photos use the same settings as before, but the flash output is adjusted to 1/16 to see the effect:


Flash output setting: 1/16

The photo looks too bright, let’s try to reduce the output to 1/64 again, and the light will be much more average:

Flash output: 1/64

Flash output setting: 1/64

If you reduce the flash output to 1/128 again, you can see that the edges of the subject are more prominent and can be revealed in the background:


Flash output: 1/128

The above is the basic adjustments of flash on the camera, isn’t it simple? In the next step, you can try to add more flashes, adjust the output, and illuminate different places. This may have unexpected results! Hurry up and shoot!

(Photos/Ref from dPS)


Author: Alex Tam