Off Camera Lighting

November 04, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Everyone! I hope your week has been great!  This week I want to talk about a subject that I truly love but is scary for a lot of beginning photographers.  Thats is "Off the Camera Flash."  Its one thing to put a flash on your camera and take a photo with your camera doing all of the work but it's another thing all together using triggers and how to set up your camera.  No matter whether your taking portraits or doing food photography learning how to manipulate the light is key to fantastic photo's.  Being in full control can be scary and exhilarating  at the same time. First let's talk about the different kinds of Strobes you may use.

The first light most of you probably already have is a speed light.  This is a light that you can connect to the top of your camera via the hot shoe.  They run off of batteries usually 4 AA. This is probably the same 41zl9yX4ltL41zl9yX4ltL brand as your camera because you didn't know what to get so you got the same brand. Been There!  These are fairly expensive lights but they don't have to be.  You can get third party flashes that work just as well as the expensive name brands.  Remember Light is Light and a cheap speed light can produce the same light as an expensive one.  You can get these speed lights that can only shoot manual or lights that have all of the bells and whistles on them like TTL (through the lens metering)  I have lots of flashes and that is what I used to learn off camera flash on.  Most of them are inexpensive manual flashes that only cost 50 bucks a piece.  I think I only have two that are TTL. 

Mono-lights.  These lights are larger and can be battery powered or AC powered.  They are the most popular for studio's now.  They are stronger than speed lights and can light up a larger space.  So if your photographing large groups of people this would be the better choice.  Although you could do it with speed lights you would have to use multiple of them.  Theses lights can come with all the bells and whistles also like TTL but you can get them in the Manual only pretty cheep.  And used ones you can come by cheap.  I bought 2 of them for 100 bucks many years ago and sold them for what I almost paid for them.  These can also be very expensive depending on the brand.  Usually the price you pay for theses lights are for the consistency of the light.  One exposure  not different from the next.  Which if you're making your living from these lights this is important.  But for amateurs like us not so much.

Pack and Head Lights.  These lights are not common anymore and have mostly been replaced by  mono-lights.  These lights have two parts the head is the portion with the bulb and a wire goes to the pack part that has all the electronics that make the flash go boom.   I won't even discuss theses because I have no experience in them and they are not practical for the most of us.

Triggers.  With off camera flash you must have something that hooks your camera to the lights.  This is done with a trigger.  Like everything else they can be complicated or simple.  Some triggers you get will have two parts .  The trigger and receiver. The trigger is on your camera and the receiver is on the light.  They usually talk via radio waves but could also be infra red light like your TV remote.  Radio triggers are much better than the infra red and have a better range.  Some triggers are part of a system.  The trigger and the light are made to go together so the light will have a built in receiver so if you have the right trigger you can control the light without a separate receiver.

So now you know the different parts and pieces what are the advantages to off camera flash or strobes?

1. You are in complete control of the light.  You are not dependent on the sun or anything else that could bother the light source.

2. They are portable.  All speed lights and some moonlights are battery powered which means they are portable.  You can take them with you when your on a outside shoot. The light can be stronger than the sun but soft at the same time.

3. You can modify the light to be strong or soft.

4. You can be consistent.  Once you have your lights set you can take photo after photo and it will be the same.  Say your taking photos at an event where you have a photo booth set up after you get your light set you can rotate people in and out without changing camera or light settings with the same results you had on your first subject.

5. Using and learning off camera lighting makes you an overall better photographer because you start looking at light in a different way when not using off camera flash.

As you can see there is a lot to off camera lighting.  In other blogs to come I'll go over settings and Modifiers and stands.  So until the next time. Get outside and shoot!



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