On Or Off Camera Flash

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When you photograph a wedding, you are faced with a wide array of lighting conditions, ranging from bright sunlight to dimly lit interiors. Using ambient lite as your main source is often preferable; nevertheless, in a situation such every bit a wedding where time is of the essence, you lot will need to know how to properly expose all these varying scenes using both natural and artificial light sources. Being resourceful with your lighting setups lends greater efficiency, and having a lighting system you tin can easily movement from ane state of affairs to the next, quickly and efficiently, is crucial. One of the mainstay techniques of lighting multiple scenarios is to work with an off-camera flash system, either wired or wireless, and to exist able to have information technology part in a modular manner to best suit the spontaneous nature of a hymeneals.

Working with an off-camera flash requires the knowledge of a handful of technologies and terminologies. It should be generally understood that off-camera flash merely ways that y’all are using one or more external flashes to low-cal the scene, and your camera will be communicating with these flashes using some sort of remote method, either a hard-wired connection or a wireless one. Beyond this, in that location are also two distinct ways to decide how to expose properly when using flash: TTL and transmission flash. TTL wink is similar the manner a camera computes its automatic exposure information, whereas manual leaves all of the settings up to you, with no automatic interface determining exposure settings. Both systems accept their pluses and minuses, and both can exist used interchangeably if needed, depending on the bailiwick.

TTL and Manual Flash Metering

Through-the-lens (TTL) metering with flash is a organisation that balances your camera’southward exposure settings to that of the wink output and the distance of the subject area. To do this, y’all must exist working with a flash and a photographic camera that utilise the aforementioned TTL system. Near brands accept their own TTL system, such as Canon’s E-TTL 2 or Nikon’due south i-TTL, and similarly branded flashes or third-party flashes are available in the same system. You must pair a flash and a camera’s TTL system, or else you will only be able to piece of work in manual fashion with your wink. TTL metering functions by using a brief pre-flash just before the exposure is taken; this pre-wink will strike the subject area and and then—at the speed of light—the proper exposure settings are determined based on the ambient light and the distance your field of study is from the camera. Once this has been calculated, both the flash power and the camera’south settings will be in tune to render a properly lit subject.

On the other hand, when working with manual flash, yous will exist setting both the flash’s power level besides as your camera’s settings to properly expose your subject. The benefits of working this style are that you have greater control of the ratios between ambient and flash light falling on your subject area, and unlimited control of how light or dark your images are. The reasons for using manual wink settings are much the same as those for working in manual exposure way with your camera versus shooting in an automated fashion. It can be a slower method of working compared to TTL metering, since you determine the exposure settings yourself, but you will have greater overall command of your lighting.

When working with manual flash, a flash meter tin quickly determine proper exposure settings, versus using a more complex system of figuring for guide numbers. A flash meter is a blazon of low-cal meter that can record brusque bursts of light and displaying subsequent exposure values. Wink meters can control test flashes to help with light-reading accuracy for last exposures. Flash is read in incident mode, not reflective manner; this means that the meter will be measuring the light that is falling upon the subject, not the low-cal reflected from the subject.

Flash Brackets and Cables

I of the simplest ways to remove a flash from the camera to provide y’all with more options and command is to utilise a flash bracket, and then connect your flash to your camera using a cable, to either a sync port or to the camera’s hot shoe. A flash bracket is a structured grip or plate that attaches to a camera, typically via its tripod socket, and then allows y’all to adhere a flash to information technology in gild to move the flash away from the lens. Bated from giving y’all a wider range of positioning for the flash past moving it away from the axis of the lens, you will also exist preventing red-middle in your subjects.

Brackets are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, and each provides a different functionality. A straight bracket is the virtually basic, and only places your flash off to the side of your photographic camera. An L-type bracket is like, but it incorporates a handle into its design to give an additional point of stability for working with your wink. Wink-rotating and camera-rotating brackets are a bit more sophisticated, as they let you to shoot in either horizontal or vertical orientations and maintain an upright flash position. For a more than in-depth contour on the variety of wink brackets available, please click to read the B&H Flash Subclass Buying Guide.

For connecting your bracket-mounted flash, a cable is the most common method, due to the curt altitude between the flash and the camera itself. Cables do the simple job of relaying when an exposure is being made and so the flash can fire. This is the only task a uncomplicated sync cable does, whereas a TTL cable passes the exposure information between the flash and camera. Basic sync cords are used when working with your flash in manual manner, as they exercise not transmit any information bated from firing the flash. These cords are available in a wide pick of different connection types, and demand to be chosen co-ordinate to the type of camera and flash you are using.

If you’re working with a basic cord and a camera that does not have a dedicated flash sync port, you tin apply a hot-shoe adapter to provide a defended sync port that uses the camera’s hot-shoe functionality. I of the benefits of working with an adapter is that you lot volition however have the option of placing an additional accessory, such as a monitor or external microphone, on the hot shoe in improver to your cabled off-camera flash. If you lot choose to work within a TTL organisation, in that location is too a range of flash cords that characteristic TTL connectivity so yous can reap the automated exposure metering benefits of TTL while using your flash on a bracket, or handheld. The TTL flash cords are available for numerous TTL systems and need to be selected in deference to your flash-and-photographic camera combination, to maintain accurate flash metering.

Wireless Wink

The second, and ultimately more than versatile, method of using your wink off photographic camera is through wireless triggering. Wireless triggering is an overarching term that encompasses three distinct methods for firing a wink without the use of a cable. These methods—optical, infrared and radio—each have their own benefits and tin all be employed to attain types of lighting that is either very difficult or simply not possible if you were to fire your flashes physically.


An optical trigger, or optical slave, is the virtually basic way to trigger flashes wirelessly, as information technology requires no additional power and is incredibly minimalistic. These slaves contain low-cal receptors that, once another flash has been detected, instantly trigger the flash to which they are connected. Many electric current flashes contain a built-in optical slave, and require no additional slave to exist triggered optically. However, if yous’re working with an older flash, a flash without an optical slave, or when you demand to increase the optical sensitivity of your flash, an optical slave can be a useful accessory.

Dot Line IR Flash Trigger with Hot Shoe

Additionally, since optical slaves typically practice not crave additional power to function, they are platonic backups to other triggering methods in example of bombardment or other electric failure. The one drawback to working with an optical slave in a situation such as a wedding is that, if other guests or photographers are besides photographing with their own flash-enabled cameras, they can unintentionally burn your flashes. While this might not affect your ain images, it can cause defoliation if the flashes are firing at a substantial rate, which can also lessen your flashes’ battery power and recycle times. Regardless, an optical slave is a proven method for wireless triggering and an ideal remedy for other equipment’s failure.


Infrared triggering is like optical triggering with the exception that the receptor functions subsequently detecting a outburst of infrared lite, rather than a visible 1. This is to say that an infrared transmitter still produces a flare-up of light to transmit its signal; nonetheless, in that location is a strong infrared filter in front of the low-cal source that attenuates much of this light and converts information technology to an infrared betoken. This is beneficial because you are non dependent on a visible axle that emanates from either your camera or a flash directly wired to your camera; you lot tin can utilise a single flash off-photographic camera and wirelessly trigger it from anywhere. Like optical triggers, many cameras and flashes have born infrared slaves or transmitters, but an auxiliary infrared organisation will often exist much more than sophisticated and powerful than those contained in your existing equipment. An infrared system functions best indoors, or in other situations where you have direct line-of-sight between the transmitter and receiver.

Vello FreeWave Fusion Wireless Wink Trigger & Remote Command


A radio slave is the most refined organization of wireless triggering, as information technology requires no optical or visual sort of transmission and is entirely invisible. This allows yous to trigger flashes without direct line of sight, and oftentimes at greater distances than optical or infrared transmitters and receivers support. For photographing a wedding, radio slaves are likely the most efficient means of wirelessly triggering lights because they can back up numerous groups of lights. This power lets you work with several lighting scenarios and transition between them rapidly and easily.

Vello FreeWave LR Kit

PocketWizard has long been a notable pick for radio slaves, and most of their units feature the unique quality of as well being transceivers—a combination of both transmitter and receiver in the aforementioned device. This provides more versatility, equally y’all can buy several PocketWizards and use them on either multiple cameras or flashes to suit different situations. 1 of the most popular PocketWizard models is the Plus Ten Transceiver, which as well happens to be one of the visitor’s simplest models to operate and, as such, has very few controls on it. It supports the utilize of ten unlike channels, which are selectable through a physical, backlit channel dial.

PocketWizard PlusX Transceiver

For greater channel support, the Plus III Transceiver and Plus 4 Transceiver support 32-channel triggering for working with multiple groups of flashes or when working in crowded areas where other photographers are using radio triggers. At that place are also options bachelor that work directly with either Nikon’s i-TTL or Canon’s Eastward-TTL II systems; the FlexTT5 Transceiver for Nikon, the FlexTT6 Transceiver for Catechism, and the MiniTT1 transmitter. These role similarly to the Plus X and III, but with the inclusion of TTL compatibility, they can transmit exposure bounty information wirelessly between the wink and camera. Additionally, all PocketWizards are backward compatible with previous iterations of all PocketWizard radios, making them a sound investment for long-term use.

Another viable option for wireless radios is the Touch on PowerSync16 system. These radio slaves feature 16 channels and back up flash sync speeds upward to 1/250th of a 2d. The receivers feature the power to be converted to use AC power, which is ideal for working indoors and does not crave replacing batteries throughout utilize. Similar to the Impact radios are the Vello FreeWave Fusion wireless triggers and receivers. In addition to being radio triggers, these likewise back up the employ of remote shutter triggering for making hands-free exposures.

Wireless Wink with TTL

Using your flash with transmission settings wirelessly is a straightforward, admitting more difficult, way to remotely trigger a flash. It is more difficult because you demand to develop and attach to a organization, metering or testing, to calculate your exposure settings. Information technology is simpler in nature, though, considering there are fewer compatibility restrictions and you have a broader range of options and methods to tether your wink wirelessly. When working with TTL metering in a wireless fashion, equipment compatibility is paramount for everything to work seamlessly. Withal, when accounted for, TTL and wireless flash afford yous several options relating to convenience, efficiency and speed that cannot easily be accomplished when using a fully transmission setup.

Channels and Groups

Wireless radio slaves commonly function by using dissimilar channels, or frequencies, to communicate with the flash or the receiver attached to the flash. This benefit is twofold: it allows several photographers to photograph wirelessly in the same environment without accidentally triggering each others’ flashes and it allows you to prepare unlike lighting schemes that you can transition to and from without having to manually conform each unit of measurement. This tin provide immense benefits when photographing a wedding where you might be transitioning between ambient lighting scenarios very quickly; the ability to pre-plan and set up tested lighting arrangements and oscillate between them by simply irresolute channels can save a great deal of fourth dimension and effort that you’d rather spend documenting the event.

In addition to working on different channels, some TTL systems also support groups of flashes within a unmarried channel. Groups tin consist of 1 or more flashes that are all controlled by a master controller, or “commander.” By grouping flashes, or several flashes within a single group, you tin can control the output levels of each of these groups when working with multiple lite sources. An instance would be to have your master lights gear up to i group, and your accompaniment, fill, or any other secondary lite sources set to another group; this provides you with the ability to control the low-cal ratios between groups wirelessly, to fine-melody the overall await of your ultimate paradigm. To utilize wireless TTL groups, yous must apply some sort of commander; either a master flash or a dedicated controller. This commander, if using an on-camera wink, volition contribute to the overall exposure while too giving yous the ability to modify the lite output of the other lights in your group. A defended controller is a TTL-enabled radio or infrared unit of measurement that performs the aforementioned functions. However, it does not emit a flash, and thus does not bear upon the lighting setup. The TTL settings, including the ability to alter light output levels among groups, are typically made through the photographic camera’s menu organization, while the main flash itself is controlled through the flash’s ain menu arrangement.

Non-Wink-Emitting Commanders

Bated from the PocketWizard TTL-enabled radios, there are also commanders available from both Canon and Nikon that are well-suited to their corresponding TTL systems. The Canon ST-E2 Speedlite Transmitter is compatible with a wide array of Canon’s Speedlites and supports full E-TTL and East-TTL Ii capabilities to an unlimited number of flashes. Two groups are bachelor when using this transmitter, which provides more than room to creatively engineer multiple lite setups. The more recently introduced ST-E3-RT Speedlite Transmitter is a radio transmitter that is specifically designed for utilise with Catechism’south RT-enabled Speedlites. When using the ST-E3-RT, you are afforded up to five groups with a full of 15 individual flashes, for an extensive range of control over how your flashes perform. This transmitter, however, is currently just compatible with the 600EX-RT, due to its unique born wireless radio capabilities.

Canon ST-E3-RT Speedlite Transmitter

In regard to Nikon and its CLS (Creative Lighting Organisation), the Nikon SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander is compatible with many of the current Nikon Speedlights and supports control of an unlimited number of flashes within three separate groups. When paired with CLS-compatible cameras and flashes, this commander tin provide wireless command from upwards to 66’ abroad and offers 4 independent channels for use amongst other photographers also using Nikon CLS devices.

Nikon SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander Unit

The advantages of working with one or several flashes off-camera are enormous regarding the liberty and creative possibilities you are afforded by not relegating a flash to the top of your camera. Peculiarly when you’re photographing a wedding, where the lighting circumstances are often mixed, difficult or fluctuating, having controllable lighting systems that can exist placed and manipulated puts you lot in control of how the resulting imagery looks.

When building an off-photographic camera lighting setup, you should consider the type of environment you will exist working in and previsualize the type of lighting you lot want to achieve. The combination of these two factors can aid you decide if you volition need radio transceivers with more than 10 channels because there will be other photographers around, or if you can just work with a simple single-channel infrared receiver because the situations are controlled. The main goal when shooting a wedding is to be every bit unobtrusive every bit possible and working with an off-camera and, fifty-fifty better, wireless flash arrangement is a guaranteed method to accomplish refined lighting in a low-profile way.

Do y’all have any additional tips or questions nearly working off-camera with flash? Let u.s.a. know in the Comments section, below.

Source: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/photography/tips-and-solutions/camera-flash-systems-wedding-photographer