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In this installment of our popular Photo Assignment series, Derrick Story shows how to get professional lighting results by using just one or two strobes that are detached from the camera and triggered remotely by Canon or Nikon digital SLRs. Photo Assignment: Off-Camera Flash covers how to improve the appearance of photos taken indoors, and reduce the appearance of harsh shadows, and get soft, beautiful light that flatters any subject. Along the way, learn lighting fundamentals and how to assemble a kit of equipment essential to any digital photographer who shoots portraits.
A convenient way to get the flash off the camera is to use a dedicated flash cord. I am going to show you a couple of ways to use it. Now, you'll notice right away that there is a difference when this flash is up off the camera, just compared to what we have right here. Now the first way that I think is the best way to use a dedicated flash cord is on a bracket. This may look like a fancy grip, but it's actually a very important photographic tool. This distance right here is not a whole lot, but it makes a huge difference when you're taking pictures.
First of all, when the flash is up off the camera this much, it eliminates red-eye, which when you're shooting in a darken environment, is very important; you'll have no red-eye whatsoever when the flash is up off the camera. The second thing that it does is that it lowers the shadows. So you have the shadows of your subject. When they are against the wall, you won't have that kind of that outline; it will move them down, and it will be out of the frame. So it's doing two very important things: eliminating red-eye and getting rid of the shadows.
Now this camera right now has the bracket with a flash on top; the two are talking to each other using the cord. I am going to show you how to use it. I am going to hold the camera right here. So when I am shooting in a horizontal mode, like this, I have the flash at a distance. Here is the nice thing about this; this is a flip frame, so when I want to shoot portrait mode, I just rotate it like this and shoot, and I have that same distance.
I can bring it right back, and we are ready to go. Now the reason why I like using the frame here is because I have a very good grip on the camera; I can steady the shot when I am shooting. You don't have to have it though. You can, if you want, just work with the dedicated flash cord itself, and you can hold the flash in one hand, the camera in the other and then direct the flash wherever you want, on the subject like this, like this. So you can shoot like this, right here.
Now, if you have a wall right here, a white wall, you can bounce that light off the wall, and you're diffusing it even more, and as we know from our earlier discussions, big diffusion is flattering light. So there's a couple of different ways to use this dedicated cord. I still recommend having it on our bracket because I think it leads to better camera technique, but you can hold it in your hand; either way you are getting the benefits of having the flash off the camera. You are eliminating red-eye. You're lowering those shadows, and you are producing better shots.
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