What Do I Need For Off-Camera Flash?

What Do I Need For Off Camera Flash

Off-camera flash is so much fun to play with! Tonight I will be hosting 5 photographers and teaching them how to use the gear that they have for off camera flash. This technique is an amazing tool to use when shooting portraits. It lets you control the light instead of the light controlling you. This guide will help you understand some of the basic gear needed. I will be covering the technique in another blog post after I see what questions are asked tonight! If you are interested in upcoming workshops let me know, I will be doing more soon!

So what do you need to start shooting off camera flash? The first thing you need is a DSLR camera with a hot shoe mount. That is the little metal tabs on the top of the camera. This is where you will put a flash or a trigger for other flashes. First up, what kind of flash do I want?

1. LIGHTING

There are two types of lights that you can use for off camera flash. There are speedlights and there are strobes.

 SPEEDLIGHTS

STUDIO STROBES

My friends over at Improve Photography did a great video and blog about the difference. Check it out here!

2. REMOTE TRIGGERS

You can get wireless remote triggers, which you attach one to your camera hot shoe and then one to your flash unit and it send the signal when you hit the shutter to pop the flash. These can be cheap or expensive. My favorite remote triggers are Pocket Wizards. They are beasts and I feel like they never fail me. They are more expensive, but they are super reliable. TIP: because again, I drop things, I put a piece of velcro on each one of my triggers and each one of my flash units so I can easily attach them to each other without having to worry about them falling. There is also a little unit (pictured on the right above) That goes on your hot shoe and with this unit, you can control multiple speedlights independently. This lets you change the power settings individually! Here is a link to the yongnuo version. Hundreds of dollars less than Canon, but still works well! You can also power other speedlights optically by having a speedlight on your camera and having another in range to be picked up as a slave to go off when the one on top of your camera does.

3. WHERE TO PUT YOUR LIGHT

4. LIGHTING MODIFIERS

We all know that the sun at high noon creates harsh shadown on our subjects. The same is true of a bare strobe flash or bare speedlight. To fix this there are multiple tools we can use.

UMBRELLAS

MAGMOD

This is my favorite lighting modifier for my speed light. The Magmod has a stretchy base that has rare earth magnets in it that you can easily pop different lighting modifiers onto in less than a second. I use the bulbous diffuser one the most, but I also have one that bounces a ton of light which is great for groups at night, and a grid with colored gels that I can use to focus and mood the lighting. They have a few more options as well for other types of photography.

SOFTBOXES

Here is a great article comparing different softboxes and umbrellas!

GELS

Want to bring some color into your image? You can use gels to make your image more moody, to match the ambient light, or just for fun! There are multiple ways to attach them. The magmod that has custom sized gels for their holder. Rogue sells a set of the gels with a rubber “band” to hold them on. If you get one set of 12″x12″ gels you can use them for your strobes and speedlights so you don’t have to but more than one set. Regular rubberbands work wonders!

If you think I missed anything, please comment below! So much information on this subject, I hope I gave you some useful tips!

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