Wireless Flash Triggers Demystified

Wireless Flash

For some reason the whole idea of lighting strikes concerns in the hearts of photographers.  So, the concept of taking your flash off-camera makes a lot of photographers start to tread with trepidation.  Taking things to the nth degree, now imagine introducing wireless triggers for your flashes when off-camera!  It’s pretty daunting for many, and I get tons of questions on what to do from Canonistas, Nikonians, Pentaxians and more!  Getting good results with off-camera lighting and using wireless flash triggers can be challenging for sure, but with the right understanding of the gear, and some of the basics of lighting, you can get great shots too!

Wireless Flash

After experimenting with my own sets of various wireless triggers, and the number of questions that have come out in this area, I’d like to set about de-mystifying the concept of wireless flash triggers.  In doing so, let’s separate for the moment the whole reason for removing flashes from your camera (better lighting, more control, etc.), and for introducing the wireless element (fewer cables to trip over, longer range, etc.)  Let’s instead start where most people like to start – talking about the gear!  There’s basically four competitors out there, and I’ll cover the nuts and bolts of each here: Read more

Go soak your gear!

It pays to review your web traffic periodically because I just learned a way that your bathtub can be used for photography!  Not only is it a good place to mellow out after a stressful shoot, but it also makes a heckuva softbox!  I was on a forum that had referenced the blog and a guy had some product that he placed in his tub.  I thought it was an interesting idea, and decided to give it a try.  As it turns out, the tub is a great place to put your gear!  Granted, not to soak it (sorry, but I had to tease the title that way), but to act as a great background and softbox combined in one.

Here’s a few sample shots.  For all the tech-types, these are pretty much straight out of camera (or sooc) – all I did was adjust the WB for Flash and adjust the ACR sharpening from 25 to 75.  All are resized to 650px wide for the blog.  Here’s the setup:  I took the Canon kit lens (18-55) on my 40D, threw on the 550EX, and set everything to default values.  Shutter at standard sync speed of 250, aperture at f8 and ISO at 100.  I powered the 550EX at it’s standard setting, on camera (relax strobists – I can hear you shuddering from here),  and started firing a few shots.  I pointed the flash to camera right and got this:


Yup, that’s a God-awful shot, with a nasty shadow.  Perhaps I could ditch the shadow.  Since we’re not exactly using conventional wisdom here, let’s try it with the flash pointed straight at the subject:


Hey!  That’s actually not too bad.  It’s not that great, and still definitely a “Meh” kind of shot as it’s still got something of a shadow.  So, I spun the flash to fire above me and bounce off the ceiling:


Voila!  You know what?  For being a spur of the moment thing, and without a lot of pre-planning or preparation, that’s not bad at all.  And, it was shot in a bathtub!  Anyone else out there have a bathtub?  Try some shots in it for different items.  I used a tape measure, but what about a pen, or a microphone, or a printer, or even a lens?  I bet you could get some pretty cool results with very little setup!  Anyone else have some odd or unusual ways to get clean backgrounds and even lighting on the cheap?  Feel free to share your thoughts, ideas, and feedback in the comments.  Feel free to link your own efforts there too!  Happy shooting all and we’ll see you back here again tomorrow!

5 Tips for Shooting Off-Camera Flash, Pt. 5

Flash Direction

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! Read more