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Off-Camera Flash

Off-Camera Flash  

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  1. 1. Do You Know How To Use Off Camera Flash?

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    • Tried & Failed

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One of the biggest leaps in my photography came when I learned how to use off-camera flash and use it manually, not relying on any TTL wizardry. I have learned what I know from some very big names (Joe McNally, Karl Taylor) and also some fairly obscure ones too. 


A lot of the teachers of off-camera flash will spend a great deal of time explaining the principles of light, which is helpful, but it can also turn a lot of photographers off the art because it comes across as super technical. In reality if you're doing off camera flash manually all you really need to understand are two things; how to adjust the power of the lights and what happens when you use different types of light modifiers. 


At the end of the day it shouldn't be something that scares you, but instead it should be something that intrigues you and causes you to want to explore the possibilities of off-camera flash more. 


Tell me your own stories of OCF if you have them. :) 

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On 05/03/2022 at 00:46, Dallas said:

Tell me your own stories of OCF if you have them. :) 

Dear Dallas,
Off-Camera-Flash experiences seem to me not very far from the ones I had with monobloc flash units. For creating volume with my subject, using a different light intensity ratio between the faces of it was paramount like 2 to 1 or 3 to 2 usually translate to a right to left orientation. For portrait, the elevation of the two main light sources shalt be high and far enough to push down the shadows that they generate. Accordingly soft boxes are tamisions the light sources in a more natural manner. An accent rear light (with snoot or barn-doors) was use generally to accentuate the contour of the subject. Lastly a splash light was use also to control the background exposure and kill any other unwanted shadows. Of course, all those combinations were subject to be transgressed. 

Every photographer can have his-her winning formulas as long they understand and master them. 

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A trace of light that survive a little further than the actual moment of flash.


Daniel M on Flickr

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I initially learned most of what I know of off-camera flash from David Hobby's Strobist website and Joe McNally's videos.

When the "Flash Bus Tour" was going on years and years ago, I was fortunate enough to be able to go and learned quite a bit there as well.


I took to manual flash way quicker than TTL...but know both well now and have a good grasp on when to use either.


For the longest time, I couldn't afford good flash units, so I tried to shoot as much as I could with available light.  Locally, I could find some used SB-26 and SB-28 units that served me well for a long time.  When my business increased, I invested in some Alien Bee units and used them for larger events.


I used all kinds of different mods from the standard shoot through umbrellas, to umbrella boxes, snoots, grids, bounce flash off the floors, walls, ceilings.


Now that I've dissolved my business, I don't have a lot of call for off-camera flash, but I did downsize my kit to 3 Yong-Nuo Y586 Nikon units with a wireless transmitter.   I'll do an occasional portrait session, but nothing on the scale that I used to do, so the AB's would have been overkill.


I still teach from time to time and one of the most challenging topics that the students often encounter is off camera flash.  Luckily for them, they have someone to help guide them through it, unlike myself and many others that didn't have any resource locally to work with them in person.  A lot of us started way before there was a "Strobist" website so we had to learn a lot by lots of trial and error.


I was lucky and during the Flash Bus Tour, Joe McNally saw me and asked if I would be a model for one of his setups.  Here is the picture he took of me:


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See my content here:

http://www.visualohio.com | BESTLIGHTPHOTO BLOG | 500px Profile & Pics


I shoot Nikon, Olympus, Minolta, Pentax and Leica.  Probably not enough!  LOL

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Pretty cool story, Andrew. 


I also started with Joe McNally, but I found the iTTL a bit too technical in the way it worked, so I gravitated to manual. When I went with Olympus in 2014 the TTL was appallingly bad, so I really did have to learn how to use the flashes I had manually. 


The last big conference I got commissioned to shoot (2016) this came in quite handy. I was able to blend the speedlight in manual mode with the ambient light and get decent results. 


untitled shoot-196.jpg


untitled shoot-175.jpg

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