Off-camera flash

Posted by Andy Gavin on Tue, 2009-02-17 18:57

I recently went to an interesting talk given by Phil Bourne about off-camera flash which he gave a practical demonstration of using multiple speedlight flashes off-camera to get studio like effects.

There was quite a lot of anecdotes, he did a demonstration with a few speedlights on stands, building up the lighting on an shot so you could see the difference that each flash added. The final image had a keylight through a shoot-through umbrella (which he demoed feathering too), a hairlight through a snoot and a flash to light the background. The photos in the presentation (where there's one photo per page) are his and he explained some of the lighting in these, they were all off-camera flash (rather than studio lights).

He covered different triggering mechanisms, each having their strengths. There was no one recommendation. In the pub he was using a radio-trigger (I think), then the other flashes were on slave. Each has it's disadvantages:

  • Radio has no TTL, although this is being developed.
  • Infra-red has to have line-of-sight
  • Cable is cheap but you have cable everywhere.

On radiotriggers the pocket-wizard is bought as the range and reliability is highest. This is why the pros buy it. If they really want reliability for the money shot. He talked about how pocket-wizards are used in sport: where off-camera flash is set up behind the basket in basketball and triggered by Pocketwizard when the shot is taken. Generally

  • Pocketwizards are expensive but long-range and reliable. Used by photographers when they really need to take the shot.
  • Intermediate radiotriggers tend to have less range. Elinchrom skyports, Gadget Infinity triggers.
  • Poverty wizards tend not to always fire, range is limited available on ebay, YongNuo triggers

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