There is one subject which for some people, is just a headache when you mention flash photography. ‘Off Camera Flash Photography‘ is something which take a little getting used and a bit of skill. I have heard that some photographs actively avoid Off Camera Flash photography. Here is my way of how you can use your normal speed-lite to generate some stunning photographs. For anyone who would love to know more ‘Off Camera Flash Photography Tips‘ and where to start.
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What Options Do You Have
Okay, Off Camera Flash Photography is not as complicated as it sounds. In 2015 I purchased my first proper Speed-lite. This flash had a flash transmitter and receiver. The transmitter sits where the flash normally would on my camera. The receiver connects to the flash via a connector on the side of the flash. There are many types of transmitters on the market, with Pocket Wizard being the most well known and premium off camera flash transmitters. From there I started to use just one speed-lite to bounce light off different surfaces, like ceilings or white walls in our home. From there, I watched quite a YouTube tutorials on how I could best but their techniques to use in my photography. The rest is history.
Not every speed-lite is the same, and not every flash unit has the option to have a reciever like those pictured above, so there are other options available. There is the Godox XPro-N TTL 2.4G Wireless HSS priced at: £60 which uses the speed-lites wireless signal rather than an actual receiver unit connected to the speed-lite. A cheaper option is the Neewer 433 MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger (pictured above), priced around £16. The Neewer 433 Mhz transmitter was bundled with my Speed-lite. A third option is a built in transmitter with a speed-lite with the Godox V860II-N (priced at £161, so not the cheapest option) where you can control other speed-lites from within the Godox V860II flash unit. My Neewer TT860 and Godox’s V860II both have rechargeable battery packs, so I don’t need to worry about carrying loads of AA batteries with me to every photoshoot.
Godox Ving V860IIN 2.4G GN60 I-TTL HSS 1/8000s Li-ion Battery Camera Flash speedlite 1.5S Recycle Time 650 Ful Power Pops Supports TTL/M/Multi/S1/S2 for Nikon DSLR CamerasNeewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger with Receiver for TT850, TT860 Speedlite and Godox V850, V860 SpeedliteGodox XPro-N i-TTL 2.4G High-Speed Sync Wireless Flash Trigger Transmitter Applies to Nikon Cameras, 1/8000s ,11 Customizable Functions ,16 Groups and 32 Channels
Softboxes – What are they for?
Soft boxes are large diffusers which soften up the light as the source to subject. When a flash light goes off, the light is very harsh and the shadows can be pointy and sharp. Soft boxes diffusers break up the light at the source and soften the shadows on the model or object.
Larger the soft box diffuser, you have more surface coverage and softer shadows will be on your model or subject. At such time when I have the budget I could go for a more professional strobe, this soft box will be able to connect with Bowens type strobe lights, what that need or time arrives.
Further Available Options
Neewer Stainless Steel Light Stand, 86.6 inches/220 centimeters Foldable and Portable Heavy Duty Stand for Studio Softbox, Monolight and Other Photographic Equipment (Silver)Godox 47Phot-R Professional 120 cm/47.2-Inch Octagon Softbox Reflector with Bowens S-Type Speed Ring and Honeycomb Grid – BlackGodox Bowens S-Type Bracket for Snoot Windows, Soft boxes, Beauty Dishes, etc.; with Bowens Mount
The Fully Extended Soft Box
This soft box diffuser is surprising easy to set up just as your umbrella is to put up. There is a double layer of material and the final outer layer has velcro for easy application and adjustment. I did purchase a velcro 10 degree grid to angle and soften the light further. I didn’t use the grid in this post, but I would rather have the option available when required it.
Can Use the Soft Box Outside?
Can you use a soft box diffuser outside when the light is good? The answer is an emphatic YES!. Not too long ago, in fact it was my first actual test of this soft box and putting it to good use. I had to find a way to to counter a lot of really bad shade and shadows. As a way of capturing for sharp and crisp images, I like to to shoot with an aperture of ƒ/5.6 to maintain my sharp photos, however; this makes my photos darker. As a result, I required a strong strobe light source and my speed-lite with soft-box was my best option available to me. Elevating the soft box to a 45 degree angle about 1 meter from my wife and daughter, spread the light evenly without creating more dramatic shadows. As light comes in contact with a subject or model, its power falls off significantly for every meter the light travels between closest object to the light source and the background. This is illustrated by the shadows on my daughters face and the right side (her left from within the photo).
Countering Strong Sun Light
On one side of the tree where the shade too dark for my camera. I had to counter the shade by using my flash and Soft box diffuser. Look at the shadows below my daughters chin. Are the shadows sharp or soft?? They are softer than using direct sun light or an open flash. Some photographers like hard, sharp shaqdows, whereas other photographers like to have the softer shadow variation. I kept my soft box at an elevated 45 degrees to my daughters face, making the shadows on her jaw line at the required angle. Had my daughter moved back just 1 metre, the shadows would have been harsh for direct Sun Light, so I can use the soft box to counter to the sun uni-directional shadows.
By putting the soft box at my desired elevated 45 degrees, allows me to control all the shadows in the way I want them, not what natures gives me. Natural light allows my model to move more freely, where flash or strobe light, is more restrictive on my models movement. There are always pros and cons to using both variations of light sources.
Professional Strobe and Continuous Light Sources
I have studied and practiced Off Camera Flash Photography for a while now and it gets easier with photo I take. I can remember what my settings are for each photo and I don’t have to keep guessing my settings. There are different models for strobe lighting and continuous light sources. Whereas, I have seen YouTuber’s and photographers both use the Aperture 120d, (it also comes with its own soft box Aperture Light Dome 35,) for its variable light control via remote control. Another professional option available is the Godox AD600Pro 600Ws, which is battery powered and allows the photographer to take the strobe light out doors on location required. The Godox AD600Pro provides a more powerful burst of light than the standard speed-lite. The Godox AD600Pro also doubles as a continuous model light source for video creation or YouTuber movie production.
Aputure Lightstorm COB 120D 135W 6000K Daylight Balanced LED Continuous Video Light with Aputure Fresnel Lens, Barn Door, Honeycomb Grid, Color Filters and PERGEAR Cleaning Kit for Better LightingFlashpoint XPLOR 600PRO TTL Battery-Powered Monolight with Built-in R2 2.4GHz Radio Remote System R2 Pro Transmitter for Panasonic & Olympus (Bowens Mount) – Godox AD600 ProAputure Light Dome 35
Off Camera Flash Photography can take some getting used to, whether that be in a home setting or on location. Even in a studio situation, learning to bounce light and controlling the amount of available light, is something which takes time to practice and experience. First, start off by learning how to use your speed-lite in multiple situations and conditions, take notes on your camera and flash settings too. Then when you when feel more comfortable, find a cheap flash transmitter like Neewer 433 MHz Wireless 16 or Godox version: Godox Ft-16s Flash Trigger Remote and progress from there. The Aperture COB 120d and the Flashpoint 600Pro (Godox AD600Pro) are expensive units costing around £700+ each, that is without light stands and or the soft box diffusers either.
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