Flash photography tips: external flash techniques anyone can understand

    | Photography Tips | 31/10/2012 02:00am

    Flash photography tips: replicate studio lighting with two off-camera flashguns


    Flash photography tips: replicate studio lighting with two off-camera flashgunsUsing an on-camera flashgun to illuminate small subjects closer than about 60cm is a really bad idea because the flash output at such close range is way too intense.

    The position of the flash head above the lens also causes most of the illumination to pass over the top of the subject. With close-ups further than 60cm away you might just get away with on-camera flash, provided you maximise diffusion using a wide-flash adapter and a diffuser.

    Take care that a long lens isn’t obstructing the flash and, if possible, set the tilt position so the flashgun is pointing slightly downwards.

    This solution is far from an ideal though – you’ll get far superior results if you use either diffused off-camera flash to one side (with a reflector on the opposite side to fill in the shadows), a specialist macro ring flash such as the Canon MR-14EX or Nikon SB29s or, as we’ve done here, a couple of wireless TTL flash units positioned either side of the subject.

    Flash photography tips: macro example 1

    First shot
    In our first shot we illuminated our lovely cherub statue using a single, undiffused on-camera Canon Speedlite 550EX. Blasting out an intense burst of light straight at the subject has created an unpleasant dark shadow behind the statue and given it a flat, almost two-dimensional look.


    Flash photography tips: macro example 2

    Second shot
    This time we used two off-camera Canon guns; one master unit bounced from the side and a diffused, wireless slave pointed at the subject from above (angled towards the front). This set-up reduces shadows and accentuates the subject’s contours for a much more pleasing result.


    Flash photography tips: macro example 3

    Third shot
    Here we used exactly the same setup as the previous shot, except that a white reflector was placed opposite the master flash to fill in some of the shadows caused by the overhead flash. The difference caused by the second reflector is quite subtle but it’s definitely an improvement.

    PAGE 1: Overview of external flash units
    PAGE 2: Off-camera flash
    PAGE 3: Replicate studio lighting with two flashguns
    PAGE 4: Bounce flash techniques
    PAGE 5: White bounce cards
    PAGE 6: Using flash diffusers
    PAGE 7: Wireless flash
    PAGE 8: External flash photography cheat sheet


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    Posted on Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 at 2:00 am under Photography Tips.

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