Off Camera Flashes

Off Camera Flashes

Jose (QUESTION): I am dipping into the world of off camera flashes and strobes with modifiers and would like any feedback or advice that you have from your experience with them. I just bought an umbrella and triggers recently – already had the light stand and flash. I took it out today and just couldn’t get it quite right. I was wondering if you know of any sources which cover this topic in depth or any words of advice you have when working with strobes. Basically, I found it hard to get a good exposure, balancing ambient and flash. Do you measure the flash and ambient and average it? And if so, how do you get the average?

Off camera flashes

Phillip Van Nostrand (ANSWER): The best website for flash related information is the Strobist. If you read that daily, you’ll learn a ton. The quick answer to your question about balancing flash exposure if you are shooting outside is this: Don’t worry about the flash until the last step.

1) Set your shutter speed to 1/125 of a second.
2) Adjust the aperture and ISO to get a proper exposure of the ambient scene. Basically you are metering for the sky or light sources. If there is a person in the picture they should be a black silhouette.
3) Add in the flash and adjust the flash until if fills your subject appropriately.
*Setting your shutter speed at 1/125 is best when using triggers. You can’t go over 1/200 because it won’t sync properly and you’ll get weird shadows from the camera shutter curtains.

$$$ Tip:

Learning off camera flash allows you to charge real money for events. If you can master your lighting you can proudly stand in front of someone and say “I can shoot your indoor birthday party for $50/hr or $100/hr or…” just last week I charged $1500 for a four hour event. The photos were edited and delivered within 24 hours and they are already asking me about their next event. It’s possible to make a real living doing this. Get your craft honed and start practicing on your friends’ events!

ps. The flash that I used on that $1500 event can be found right here. It works on Nikon or Canon. It’s so cheap and super fantastic.

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