The easiest way to think about using off-camera flash is to think about light. Light is something that all photographers should be used to working with, and when using flash the first thought should be to the creative possibilities of what you want to achieve. What “look” do you want to go for etc?
So you look at the scene you have and think where is the natural / ambient light coming from? How can I use that to add shape / texture / drama to my image or how can I add flash to that scene to add a little bit more light and make a better well balanced image?
Note – I’m not going into using flash modifiers on this blog!
Getting Started with Off Camera Flash
So the first two images below…my thought process…
- Position the couple where I want them. I don’t worry about posing couples by the way. I just ask them to cuddle or if they are Welsh cwtch!
- I loved the sky. Clouds are fab for me, I love drama in the clouds. So my thought process was to first expose for the sky to ensure the clouds would be good. (Tip – switch the camera to P mode and take a shot of the sky. Then remember the settings and enter them into the camera when you are on M mode!).
- Once I have a decent exposure of the clouds I think about how much flash I need to add to the subjects. I’m pretty good at this now, but, seriously, I have spent hours and hours and hours in my garden with a fake rubber head on a light stand and a flash on another stand testing the light output at various distances.
- So, for your starter for 10 put the light stand at 6ft away from your subjects and set the flash power to 1/8 power. (Check the manual if you are now scratching your head 😉 ). The flash should be at roughly head height for now.
- Take a test shot and see what the subjects look like. Your sky will have the same exposure by the way – we are ONLY looking at the subjects.
- If the flash is too bright, turn the power down.
- If the flash is too dark, turn the power up.
- How much you turn the power up is, well experience! Hence spending time in the garden.
- When you have a shot you like do a happy dance!
Notice the sky in the images below are exactly the same exposure. Only the couples exposure has changed.
- Godox v860ii
- Godox XPro
- Neewer light stand
- Fuji Xt3
- Fuji 16-55mm f2.8
ISO 80, 16mm, f.8, 1/250
f8 because I wanted the background to be sharp to show it off
The next couple of images were with two lights. Same technique as above though.
The first shot was with the light (Godox v8601ii) to camera right and then I added a second light (Godox v860ii) to camera left. I like the shadows in images, they don’t bother me too much. They add depth to the shot and give it a more 3D feel.
Same kit as above.
ISO 80, 24.2mm, f3.2, 1/250
F3.2 because I wanted the background to be sharp but not overly distracting.