While natural light is beautiful, there is a time and place for flash photography. You can use your built-in flash, an external speed light, or strobe flash that can attach to your camera and get excellent results. At some point, you will discover a need for a multi-flash setup. That means you would have your on-camera flash and an off-camera flash too.
Taking your flash setup to the next level is easy. Let's take a look at how you can use a multi-flash set up to make your photography more amazing than it already is.
When Would You Use an Off-Camera Flash?
You can start with basic gear and still achieve impressive results. There is no need for complicated or expensive setups.
If you are photographing at night or in low-light situations, an off-camera flash can be useful. You might be shooting portraits in a low light situation or events where the light can constantly be changing and unpredictable. Wedding photographers often use off-camera flash to support their main flash as they are working in various light conditions throughout the day.
If you want to maintain the ambiance of a setting, off-camera flash can help. If you take a photo of a group of people with only your on-camera flash, you might have the subjects lit well, but the background will be dark. An off-camera flash will light up the surrounding area. This can really lift an image and take it from average to amazing. For example, you might have newlyweds on the dance floor and want to light up the background to see reactions, flowers, and decorations. This can be applied at an event, party or family gathering such as a birthday celebration or Christmas.
To remove harsh shadows from your subject's face, you can hold a second flash above your main flash. It will also soften the shadow behind your subject. This is where having a second shooter or assistant can come in really handy. If you are in a pinch, you can always ask someone to help hold the flash for a few moments. Or if you are photographing a family event, you can enlist some help.
What Do You Need?
You can start with a couple of strobe flashes. Preferably match the brand of the strobe with your camera, but if you are on a tight budget, another more affordable brand will do the job. You can always upgrade the flash later if you are using it frequently. You will also need triggers to connect the flashes. The trigger connects to the camera and the flash goes on top. Triggers allow you to change the settings with the camera you are using. If your other flash is on the opposite side of a packed dance floor, you don't need to manually change the settings on each flash.
You need a receiver for the off-camera flash and a stand so you can easily move the flash to where you need it and adjust the height. You can also use it hand-held if you have an assistant working with you.
Keep It Simple
Starting with two flashes is recommended so you can experiment with the power of your flashes and positions for different effects. You can create many effects with flash, so take time to figure out your style and what you like best. You might want dramatic, strong effects or softer, subtle effects. Later, if you wish to get more technical and add more flashes, you will be able to do so confidently because you've already mastered the use of two flashes.
Using Your Flash System
Turn on your flash, then the trigger and finally your camera. Hit the test or pilot button to make sure your flashes are synced correctly. If one of your flashes isn't working, check that the batteries are charged and make sure the flash is connected securely to the hot shoe. Set your camera and flash to manual to have full control of your settings. Set your ISO to 800 to 1600 to start. Your settings will depend largely on the situation you are shooting and the effect you are trying to achieve. Don't be afraid to play around with your settings to discover what you like best. Your camera and accessories might operate differently, so always read the manual to make sure you are operating your gear correctly.
Tips For Using Multiple Flashes
- Multiple flashes usually work better when they are placed far away from each other
- Use your main flash to light up the subject and your second flash to illuminate the background
- Make sure your second flash is somewhere it won't easily get knocked over
- Always carry spare batteries
- Practice as much as possible to gain confidence and skill in using two or more flashes
- Keep it simple and don't be afraid to experiment
In the beginning, the thought of using several flashes can be intimidating. But after some practice, you will slowly get the hang of it. Soon it will become second nature and you will be effortlessly setting up and using multiple flashes while looking like a pro.
The results you can achieve by using two flashes are amazing. After you try it out, you might be wondering how you ever lived without a multi-flash setup. Your photography portfolio will also be looking up-to-date and modern.