Taking your flashgun off the top of your camera and using it to light your subject more creatively is one of the best ways to improve your flash photography, but it’s often seen as complicated, expensive and a bit daunting. However, the availability of cheap wireless triggers and the instant review on your camera mean that it’s never been cheaper or easier to experiment with off-camera flash. In this tutorial we’ll show you a really easy way to set up off-camera flash to achieve perfect results from your flash photography.
If using a cheap wireless trigger you’ll have to set the exposure manually, so it takes a little practice, but – like many photography skills – it’s just a case of learning the basics, working methodically and using your skills creatively.
You may need to change the aperture and flash power settings depending on the distance between the flash and your subject, and the flashgun you’re using.
You can also fine-tune the flash exposure by moving the flash – move it a little closer to the subject to make it brighter, or further away to make it darker.
Master the basics and you can try a number of new techniques, including multiple off-camera flash set-ups and balancing ambient and flash exposures.
01 Select the channel
Make sure that the transmitter and receiver are set to the same channel. On some models there is a simple switch or numbered display for the channel. On these Hähnel triggers there are dipswitches under the battery cover, which need to be set the same on trigger and receiver.
02 Attach the trigger
Now you are ready to attach the transmitter to the top of the camera, and then the receiver to the base of the flashgun. You should also attach the flash to a tripod or lighting stand. Many receivers have a standard tripod bush on the bottom for this, or you can use an adapter.
03 Set the exposure
Switch your camera to Manual and select ISO200, then choose a shutter speed that will work with flash – usually 1/250 sec or slower. Set the aperture – f/8 is a good starting point – then set your flash to manual and check the aperture and ISO are set to the same as the camera.
04 Position the flash
For your first shots, position the flash at about 45° degrees from the camera. Next, change the power setting on the flash according to the aperture you set and the distance the flash is from the subject. Most flashguns have a rear display that indicates which setting you need.
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