The final installment of the shooting off-camera flash series is here!  For a while now, I’ve been posting various tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your minimalist off-camera flash setup.  The equipment is a single flash, a light stand, and an umbrella.  The goal was to come up with 5 tips for how to get the most out of it!  Here’s what we’ve done so far:

1.  Attached the umbrella correctly
2.  Positioned the light as far away from the shoot-through as possible
3.  Added a little extra diffusion from the built in diffuser for your flash
4.  Stabilized the light stand by spreading the base to it’s widest point – adding a possible “4th leg” in the process too!

So, how are we going to round things out this week?  By turning things around!  Yep, the tip is to use the shoot through umbrella as it’s own reflector!  Take a look at the results.  I took a picture of the world (okay, it was a globe in our spare bedroom) from the flash in two different setups:

Globe in Harsh Light

While it’s always better to shoot with your flash off-camera, this is probably the best lesson in showing that just because your flash is off-camera doesn’t make it good light!  Yes, it’s better than on camera lighting, but look at that harsh specular highlight, and how…well, boring the photo on the left looks.  Then consider the photo on the right – the hottest part of the light is nowhere near as specular (bordering on not even becoming a specular highlight…), and the diffused, reflected light gives some nice character and a sense of depth lacking in the first.

Here’s the lighting setup for each shot:

Flash DirectionSo, as you can see (hopefully), this demonstrates that turning things around (not just your camera) can have a surprisingly good effect from time to time.  It really becomes subjective at this point, and some may prefer one style over another, but that’s part of what makes the craft so enticing – you are limited by nothing more than your vision!

Thanks for tuning in to this unique week-long series on off-camera lighting – I hope you enjoyed reading these tips as much as I enjoyed writing them!

On that note – I’d like to ask you for more ideas on some themes and topics in this vein.  This really seems to have resonated based on the traffic, email, and feedback I have gotten thus far, but I do want to keep content moving in directions you are interested in, so feel free to chime in the comments with ideas, thoughts, and feedback not only on existing content, but asl on ideas thoughts and feedback for new content down the road!

Have a great weekend (don’t forget, today is the last day to get your entries in for the November Flickr contest) and be sure to stop back next week for the year-end wrap up on a bunch of product reviews – and you know what that means! 🙂

5 thoughts on “5 Tips for Shooting Off-Camera Flash, Pt. 5

  1. I think the only reason the second pic ‘seems’ to look better is because it’s under exposed. Most of the light still went through the umbrella in the wrong direction. If you compensated to correct the exposure, you’d get the same specular highlight.
    It would probalbly be best to move to umbrella closer to the globe, shoot though it and reduce the flash amount. That would give you the bigger, softer light source you’d need to reduce the specularity further

    1. Did you see how close the shot was in the first pic? I’m like two feet away from the subject…

      Having said that I agree with the reverse engineering analysis, but would throw this caveat out there, that varying flash power was beyond the scope of this particular series. Thanks for the idea though as I think I have a topic for the next in this series! 🙂

      Finally, as for th “under exposing” I really don’t think that lighting is as cut and dry as you indicate here. What is “correct exposure” who’s to say one is best or worse than another? Photography is very subjective and to say that one opinion is more or less accurate is just not worth th discussion.

      Thanks for the comments! 🙂

  2. Enjoyed the series Jason. Supplying the result images as well as the set-up shots is very helpful.

    Maybe a series on on/off camera bounce flash or a series on using scrims-flags-diffusers and deflectors.

    A few off the cuff ideas, have a great weekend.

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