One of the easiest ways to achieve amazing portraits is to utilize off-camera flash.
You’ll be amazed at how you can transform your photos by simply taking your flash off-camera if your only experience of using flash is the disappointing result you got with it fitted to the camera’s hotshoe.
Whether it’s the dramatic results of underexposing the background and employing the flash as your main light source, or using flash to fill in the harsh shadows you get in bright sunlight, with a few simple photography tips you can create a range of lighting effects.
Popular among a group of photographers known as strobists is this technique of underexposing the background and employing the flash as the main light source. Largely thanks to the blog of American photographer David Hobby has arisen a vibrant and enthusiastic online community who practise this art of off-camera flash.
To master this once “secret” art he has helped demystify the techniques and technology with his no-nonsense explanations. Using automatic TTL exposure metering with wireless-compatible flashguns for your system it is possible to achieve the strobist look.
Prepare the built-in flash.
Firstly, you need to turn of any built-in flash when setting up your camera to command a wireless flash system. Change the built-in flash setting to Off (–) by entering the Commander section to find the Custom Shooting menu where you will find the Bracketing/flash section, as on a Nikon body – the exact menu may differ depending on your camera, however, but the method is still the same.
Set the group and channel.
To control the off-camera flash you will need to select the settings that control it. Select TTL from the Group A settings when scrolling down. The external flash is controlled by the channel that you select when changing the settings – in this case, it’s Channel 1.
Set up the flash gun.
Make sure the wireless flashgun is set to Remote. Make sure that the Group is set to A and the Channel is set to 1 to ensure you have selected the same group and channel settings that you have used on the camera.
Position and soften the flash.
You can position the flash either on a lighting stand or a normal tripod now that the basic off-camera settings are done. To make sure that the flash is just out of frame you’re going to want to place the flash to the left and slightly above the subject to create dramatic side-lighting for your shot.
Underexpose the background.
The wireless system will need a direct line of sight between the front of the flash and the camera if you’re not using radio triggers, so, it’s best to take a test shot with the camera set to f/8 on Aperture Priority mode. By setting the exposure compensation to -1 stop you can underexpose the background to give your shot more impact.
Adjust the flash exposure.
You’ll need to increase the exposure from the flash to properly expose the subject as the underexposure will affect both the flash and the ambient exposure. To do this adjust the exposure compensation setting of Group A to +1 stop by going into the Commander setting on the camera.
The rest, they say, is up to you!
Words by Elijah (Content Marketer) via Digital Camera World.