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- Carry and hold that DSLR like a pro
- Stabilizing the camera: from hands to water glasses to tripods
- Using aperture, shutter speed, and ISO
- What the buttons do
- Manually controlling your autofocus
- Working with flash
- Thinking creatively
- Buying new gear
Skill Level Beginner
Getting the flash off of your camera is absolutely the best thing that you can do. The good news is that it doesn't even have to cost a lot of money. In fact, if you have one of the newer, more modern DSLRs, you may find that your little built-in pop-up flash can act as a master to another flash which is called the slave. So you can then trigger that flash using this one. And you can even choose whether you want this flash to fill in with light as well or just be off completely. Now, one thing I want to point out, if you do set it so that this flash doesn't illuminate the subject, you are still going to see it flash.
Don't be confused by that. What that's doing is communicating to the other flash, so, it will fire, but it's not going to show up in the picture. It fires just before the other flash does. So let's try this out. Here, I have a Nikon that has that capability built-in to it. And I have a Nikon strobe set up over here on a light stand. So I'm going to set this off to the side of our model, and stand in front of her, and just fire off a quick shot.
As we can see from this shot, clearly, the light from the side, this one here, is firing. However, the light from the camera pointing at her is not. Now, to make this a better photo, I would want to modify the light a little bit, make it a little bit softer, or maybe bounce it off of something. But what I really wanted to illustrate here was to show you that this on-camera flash, it's triggering that one, but is not in fact firing to illuminate the subject. So now, let's move on to something else. If you don't have one of the newer cameras that has this pop-up flash control capability control built-in to it, it doesn't mean that you can't get your flash off the camera.
It just means that you have to add another device to make that happen. There's a couple ways to do it. The least expensive way is using a cable like this one. This type of a cable will allow you to control the flash, in fully automatic mode, even though it is not sitting on top of the camera. It's still physically connected, but we can move it wherever we like, so let's try this. I'm going to use my flash here, that already has the flash bender attached, so I have this nice modifier. And we'll simply attach this to the cable. Always make sure you lock it in place. And I'm going to move the camera off flash, say, right about here. Let's see how this looks.
Now, if we look at this photo, you can clearly see that the light is not coming from straight on, from the camera, but is in fact off to the side. So it's a much more pleasing, more natural look. But sometimes, the cable isn't quite long enough, we can't get it far enough away or it just may not be convenient. If you have this sitting here, someone could trip over the cable, and bring your whole camera down. Probably not a good idea. So there's a couple other things that we can do to go wireless. Here's a couple different devices.
This is an infrared transmitter. This will allow me to trigger a flash or a series of flashes by mounting this on top of the camera. The advantage of this is it's quite a bit less expensive than the other devices I'm about to show you, but the disadvantage is that it is line of sight. The flashes have to be able to see this device. Now, it can bounce all over the room to trigger it. The light beam coming from here can bounce off the walls and ceiling and then trigger the flash. So in an environment like this, this is going to work perfectly well. However, if you find yourself outdoors or if you want to put the flash really far away, this may not quite cut it.
Another option are radio transmitters like this. These are made by a company called Phottix. There's other companies out there like PocketWizard or RadioPoppers that make similar devices. The idea here is that the flash is triggered by a radio signal, which means you don't have to have line of sight. The other strobe can be way over there, in another room, shining through a window, or pretty much anywhere you can imagine. So, the radio slaves do cost quite a bit more money, but they do pretty much guarantee that the flash is going to fire, unlike a device like this, which means you have to be in a more controlled environment.
For today's example, I'm going to go ahead and use this infrared transmitter, because it'll work just fine in this environment. I'm going to modify my light using umbrellas. There's a couple different ways that we can work with umbrellas. Let me show you these. Here, we have a standard photographer's umbrella, and as you can see, it's completely white, and in fact it's a bit opaque. Light mounted here will shine through this umbrella giving me a nice big soft surface here that's going to illuminate my subject. Now, this is also going to spread out really far, so it's going to fill the room with a big soft light. You'll notice over here that I have something called adjusting clamp that this umbrella is attached to.
This clamp is incredibly versatile. I can clamp this onto just about anything you can imagine here. It's incredibly strong. All I have to do is mount it onto something. And it's going to hold the flash and the umbrella in place. And then the flash itself will be attached to this and I can point it wherever I like. Now, this is one way of working with an umbrella. This umbrella here, as you could see, is already mounted on a light stand. And it also has a black cover over it. This is actually the same umbrella that you just saw. This cover can be removed, making it a shoot through umbrella, or if I put the cover back on, it is now a reflective umbrella.
This is going to give me a more concentrated light source, but it's still going to be very nice and soft. So, a couple different ways you can work with the exact same umbrella. Let's go ahead and position this right about here. Make sure my flash is on. And one of the other things you have to keep in mind, if you are shooting infrared as I am now, remember what I said about it being line of sight. So this device here has to be able to see the front of the flash here. Now, this might work the way it is, but it might not. So to be safe, what I want to do is make sure that this infrared sensor is viewable from there. So, all I need to do is turn this towards me, and then turn the flash head back into the umbrella.
Great. So now this is all set up, it should be ready to shoot. Let's give it a try. So now, this infrared transmitter is going to shine on this light, which is going to shine into the umbrella, and then, back onto our subject. Let's try it out. As you can see, we get a really nice soft light, off camera, so it doesn't look like it's shining right into her face.
And overall, it's a really pleasing way to light our subject. Of course, there's all kinds of other things we can do with this umbrella, changing its position, making it higher or lower, and so on. But this gives you an idea of what we can do. There's one more modifier that I want to show you. Let me get this umbrella out of the way. We'll make sure that flash is turned off. And this other modifier is called the orbis. As you can see, it looks like a big ring flash, and a big ring flash is really expensive. So what this does instead of being a dedicated ring flash is it's actually a modifier for an existing strobe, so let's put this together.
All I have to do is take my strobe and attach it into here. And now, I can hold this wherever I like, and it'll be a great modifier. But the idea is that I shoot through this, giving me a really nice illuminated ring around the camera lens. So let's try it out. I can get in nice and close to my subject. And have an absolutely beautiful result. As you can see in here. The light is really soft and even. And I get a really nice round catch light into her eye, which is generally considered a very pleasing type of the catch light. And you don't have to just shoot through it, you can actually hold this wherever you like and there's still a really cool modifier.
For the next shot, I'll position the ring just above the lens. Now, as you can see here, we still have the round catch light in her eye. However, we also have a slightly different positioning of the light, a little bit different shadow under her chin and, overall, just a really interesting different way of looking at the photo. So, whatever you're doing when you get your flash off of the camera, whether you're bouncing it off of a wall or a ceiling, or modifying it with a device like this, or an umbrella. Any change like that is going to make a dramatic difference in the images. So I encourage you to check out some of the different modifiers out there. Some are incredibly cheap, some are even free, or you can make them at home, and of course, some cost quite a bit of money.
But there's a lot of different options out there. Check them out and have some fun with it.