American in Spain

Off-Camera Flash

May 12, 2009
Experimenting With Off Camera Flash (crop)

by erikrasmussen, on Flickr")A couple months ago I eBay'd a wireless flash trigger mechanism so that I could take my photography to the next level: off-camera flash. Of course I soon realized that using an off-camera flash is actually really, really hard, at least for someone like myself who still has to look up the term f-stop occasionally. Last weekend, I finally got around to experimenting with off-camera flash on my intended subject, for whom I justified the expense of starting down this road of photogeekery. The difficulty with off-camera flash is that you have to set the flash intensity and exposure and white balance and shutter speed all manually before the shot. When the flash is attached to the camera, the camera controls all that for you, calculating with the ambient light, the focal distance, and the fact that you have a flash connected to tell the flash just how much light is needed to light your subject, the lens how much aperture is needed, and the shutter how long to stay open to get enough light to the sensor. With the off-camera flash trigger, the camera only ever sends one bit of data to the flash: "NOW!" The rest is up to the photographer to coordinate. The manual for my flash speed light leads me to believe that if money grew on trees and I had another speed light, I could attach one to my camera, have another off-camera, and the two could intelligently communicate between themselves to coordinate some camera settings. But I have my doubts as to just how much of the intelligence burden they would really take from me.

Experimenting With Off Camera Flash

Oops! Too much flash. Also: "Take me to your leeeaaaader."

Freaky Baby Overexposure

Doh! Too little flash. This is the result of me standing there like a doofus without a tripod trying not to move with the shutter open for 30 seconds while Nora flails about and Marga looks at me and says, "What are you doing?"

Experimenting With Off Camera Flash

Now we're getting somewhere. Still a little too intense.

Experimenting With Off Camera Flash

Still very "Don't go into the light, Carrie Anne!" creepy.

Experimenting With Off Camera Flash

Very flashlight-under-the-chin campfire ghost story. This was the best I managed in my first attempt at off-camera flash photography of a squirming subject.

Stay tuned for more and better off-camera flash results in the future.