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Off-camera flash

Off-camera flash - See how taking your flash off camera can make a big difference to your pictures.

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Category : Studio Lighting and Flash
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Tips from Adrian Wilson (ade_mcfade) and Keigo Kato (Strobekid).

By getting your flash off camera you're giving yourself more control over how you'll light the scene and by doing so you'll be able to begin to tell a story with light, rather than just capturing what's in front of the lens.

Strobe portraits

Kit
To be a strobist you need at least one flash you can trigger off camera and a stand or two for your flashes if you're working on your own. Your receiver's then fixed on top of the stand then you put your flash onto the receiver via a hotshoe mount. If you're working outdoors make sure the wind doesn't carry the stand off by using your camera bag or a sandbag to weigh it down. An arsenal of modifiers such as softboxes and snoots are handy to have and they can be shop bought or if you're tightening the purse strings do as site member Keigo does and make your own.

Brollys and softboxes are very portable and quick to set up. They provide a very big, soft source of light if you need to flatter the subject but they're better used quite close to the subject as its range is small due to the flash power not being that high. Gels will balance the flash output with the ambient white balance, e.g. at night in the street you get orange street lamps - put an orange gel (CTO) on the flash and this balances up. Also you can use coloured gels for atmosphere and creative reasons - maybe blue or red on a rear wall would add an extra dimension. Snoots are good for hair lights, mini beauty dishes are handy when it's windy, honeycombs that go inside the dish produce a really soft, directional light and bulb shaped diffusers are great for creating ambient light.

Technique
Always shoot manually as you need to be in control of the light. Take outside for example, here you can't control the ambient light, so you need to manually set the exposure so that it remains constant. Once that's set up you introduce your flash. Try starting with them on about 1/8th power, put them in to position, then take a shot and adjust the flash strength and position until you're happy - using the camera's screen and histogram to check your results. If you're looking to create a more dramatic image, under-expose the ambient light by a stop or two.

When it comes to subjects, apart from wildlife which you'd scare off, almost anything goes as long as it doesn't move too much and isn't shiny. For these reasons portraits are ideal - cyclists/runners look great if you can get them to run through the lights and time the shot just right. Also, motorbikes are good, cars are a bit big to light with speedlights, but can be done with several strobes. Kids on swings, people on trampolines, BMX bikers and rock climbers are a few other shots you should try.

Tips from Adrian Wilson (ade_mcfade) and Keigo Kato (Strobekid).

Find the tripod to suit your needs at www.manfrotto.co.uk.

Don't forget to enter our exclusive competition where you can win one of six Manfrotto 190XPROB tripods!



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