Flash photography made easy: master it all from pop-up flash to multiple flashguns

Flash photography made easy: master it all from pop-up flash to multiple flashguns

How to position your off-camera flash

How to position your off-camera flash

Positioning the flash away from the camera allows you to create more directional side lighting, which can add drama and also give the impression that a more expensive studio lighting set-up was used.

For the dramatic shot at the top of this page, we decided to switch to Manual mode on both the camera and flash – the automatic modes are good, but they don’t give you total control over the finished effect.

For the image to work, we wanted the background to be dark and moody, so we used Manual mode to select a fast shutter speed, which in turn slightly under-exposed the background. We then set the flashgun to half power to light our model.

How we set up our off-camera flash

The combination of a wide lens, low-angle of view, dramatic side-lighting, and a dark and moody background has created a striking portrait with a professional finish.

Keep it steady
Shooting with your camera in one hand and a flashgun in the other can be a little awkward at first, and without autofocus it would be nearly impossible.

Like most core camera skills, this will take time to master. In this situation a tripod was impractical, so Ed used the arm holding the flash as a rest, which helped to keep the camera steady.

PAGE 1: Find your way around a flashgun
PAGE 2: Master fill-in flash
PAGE 3: How to use rear curtain flash for cool motion effects
PAGE 4: What is diffused light?
PAGE 5 How to buy or make a diffuser
PAGE 6: See the effects of diffused light
PAGE 7: What is off-camera flash?
PAGE 8: How to position your off-camera flash
PAGE 9: Off-camera flash photography cheat sheet
PAGE 10: How to use multiple flashguns creatively
PAGE 11: Using radio triggers in your flash photography


54 Portrait Ideas: free downloadable posing guide
40 More Portrait Ideas: part 2 of our free downloadable posing guide
Free f-stop chart: learn how to master your aperture