Going off-camera Speedlite tips by Daniel Linnet

19th December 2016, 01:10pm

Although using the Speedlite on-camera can give you some nice results, the real fun doesn’t really begin until you take the flash off the camera and away from the axis of the lens. Just one Speedlite is all you need to start experimenting with different lighting effects and directions.

Triggering and Controlling

The new 600EX Speedlites have built-in wireless radio capabilities and can be triggered and controlled by the STE-3 Controller unit, which sits in the hot shoe.

  • Up to 30 metre range.
  • Gives you full wireless control over modes and flash exposure.
  • Allows full ETTL features and metering off the camera.
  • Can also be controlled by a second Speedlite on top of the camera in a master/slave configuration.

Daniel LinnetAbove image - Two Speedlites gelled warm and evenly placed and hidden inside the van. Triggered and adjusted wirelessly using STE-3 Radio Transmitter

Light Shaping

Light shapers for off-camera Speedlites come in multiple forms and sizes making it as versatile, and more portable than the some of the larger studio based flash lighting systems.

  • Soft boxes and umbrellas increase the effective size of the light source and are used to improve the quality of the light.
  • I like to use umbrellas when I need to cover a larger area and soft boxes for greater control of light placement.

Daniel Linnet

Hardly there

Due to their compact size Speedlites can be hidden in a greater number of places within the frame, giving you greater control over where you throw the light.

  • Can be hidden behind couches, attached to book cases, hung off tree branches, just to name a few.
  • Experiment with placement. Fire through doorways and windows, through objects, like boxes and jars, even inside domestic appliances.
  • You are only limited by your own imagination.

Get some direction

Mounting the Speedlite on a simple lighting stand, tripod or C-stand enables the flexibility of directional placement.

  • Can add extra contrast and drama to a scene.
  • Opens up more portrait lighting options.
  • Experiment by placing the flash behind the subject, firing toward the subject. This is known as 'rim lighting' and can be used to give the subject greater separation from the background by creating a highlight outline around their shape.

Daniel LinnetAbove image - Single Speedlite positioned to camera left, just out of the frame. Silver reflector was used on the right to reduce the contrast on the subject.

ETTL or Manual

On or off the camera, your Speedlite retains full ETTL capability for fast accurate on the fly flash exposures, which is great for shooting in rapidly changing lighting conditions or where constant location changes are required. For greater exposure consistency in more controlled lighting scenarios, try switching your Speedlite to manual power control and adjust up or down to match with lens aperture.

Daniel Linnet is a Sydney based commercial, fine art photographer and educator, specialising in portrait, automotive and the environmental photography. A master of photography with the Australian Institute of Professional Photography, Daniel also founded and runs Sydney Photographic Workshops.

Don't forget to check out Daniel’s portfolio.

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