Off Camera Flash Techniques by Andrew Miller
Off camera flash photography is a concept everyone may not be a familiar with, but the effect achieved by using this technique, you can turn good wedding photographs into great wedding photographs. By changing the aspect of where the lighting is coming from, it can create extremely interesting light and shadow that can really bring a picture to life. Off Camera Flash is often abbreviated to OCF by the way!
By providing light, using a source away from the camera itself, a subtle ‘glow’ effect can be produced across the face of the happy couple, giving the moment captured added depth and richness of colour.
A wonderful byproduct of off camera flash photography, are the interesting shadows that are cast, complementing and offering the contrast to the subtle lighting.
Off Camera Flash Photography – How the Effect is Created
Using a ‘master and slave’ setup, whereby remotely controlled flash units are activated via a controller, fitted to the hot-shoe of the camera, each device is able to communicate with each other via infrared. Signals are sent at the exact moment of exposure, activating the flash units and creating this beautiful and unusual effect.
The equipment required to create this effect looks expensive – but it can be quite cheap. I train photographers on this in fact (look for my web page on training with the wedding photography training taking place at the fabulous St. Pierre Hotel). A simple trigger and receiver setup combined with a cheap speed light will suffice. Off course if you are a Bristol Wedding Photographer like I am then you can and should purchase the bigger, more powerful kit – it gives you more options basically. The exact brand you buy will depend on your camera model. I use Fujifilm XT’2 now. I moved away from Canon in March 2017 and never really looked back.
Triggers – you will need two of these. One for your camera and one for your flash unit. Some more expensive flash units have receivers built in. This Off Camera Set from Amazon is the great value. It has a flash unit, two triggers plus a few extra goodies!
If your budget can not stretch to wireless triggers you can easily go for a cheaper / lower cost option and use “sync cables“. Every camera and flash will have a what is known as a sync port on them. The trick, however, is making sure you get the right cable as sync ports come in many sizes – 2.5mm, 3.5mm etc. You may need an adapter to connector one end of a sync cable to the camera and to the flash itself.
Light stand – you need to put the flash unit on something to be able to move it around. Again, it’s a cheap one – but will do the trick. Click here for the Amazon link
You really need to be careful about the light stand. Make sure it is stable enough to hold the weight of the flash you have, the flash holder and any light modifiers (see below). Get one that is too flimsy and it will break too easily. Get one that is built like a tank and you won’t want to use it.
You can also get specially made bags, that you fill with sand, to place on the bottom of the light stand and keep it weighted down. Personally, I prefer to use my camera bag, or when I am photographing weddings I ask a bridesmaid or usher along to help me.
Softbox and Flash holder. This setup isn’t really the cheapest – but it is the most versatile! Click for the link from Amazon
This video is from my YouTube channel and is a (very!) rough and dirty example on the Off Camera Flash techniques that this Bristol Wedding Photographer uses! I am using Canon cameras there, but the principles are exactly the same.
Adding mood using Off Camera Flash
he best examples of off-camera lighting will add depth, mood and dimension through clever interplay of highlight and shadow and it is the savvy choice for anyone wanting to create lasting memories that just ‘pop’ off the page and take the viewer right back to that special moment.
Using multiple Lights
You are not stuck with just one off camera flash light – you can use as many as you want. They can be controlled, via wireless, in groups. So you could have 2 or 3 in Group A and 2 or 3 in group B. Each group would have it’s own particular power settings and each light could have it’s own individual light modifiers.
Want to know more?
If you are planning your special day and would like to know more about off camera flash wedding photography or you have any other photo-graphical (is that a word?? – it is now!) query, then please do not hesitate to call me, Andrew, on 01633 400 051 or visit my website Bristol Wedding Photographers for more information.
Look through enough wedding photo albums and they can seem a little ‘samey’ in terms of results achieved, but by using innovative methods like this, you can make your photos stand out from the crowd.
You only get one chance to get your wedding photographs right and off camera flash photography can offer a keepsake that will stay with you forever.