Off Camera Flash Exercise:
Goal: to explore creative opportunities of using portable flash off your camera
The studio lighting you can hold in your hand.

With the flash off your camera, you have the creative control of having the equivalent of a studio light and the ability to stop motion in your hand (or on a stand).

Taking the flash off the camera gives you the advantage of having a powerful portable light that you can creatively position for the best light, almost anywhere.

Flash also has the advantage of being a very fast exposure, helping to eliminate camera or subject movement.

Photographs are made stronger with great lighting.
When out of the studio, you should look for good directional ambient light - or available light.
Additional lighting can be added to the scene by bouncing the light off a reflector, using continuous incandescent- fluorescent or led light.
Electronic flash on the camera allows you to provide additional fill or main light but limits your ability to direct the light.

Off Camera Electronic flash gives you the most control - like carrying a portable studio.

The biggest disadvantage of using portable flash in the field is the inability to preview how your lighting will look without taking a photograph and examining it in camera.


The flash is an extremely short burst of light. It has to be timed or synchronized with the camera shutter to make an exposure:
With the flash on the camera the electrical connections tell the flash when to light.
Off the camera syncronization:
1) A simple way to use flash is like using early flash powder... open the shutter on bulb or time exposure and manually trigger the flash.
2) Slave trigger - use thf flash on your camera to trigger the external flash
3) Cable connection - use a hotshoe extension cable or a "pc" connector cord
4) Wireless trigger- transmitter on the camera, receivers on the flash(s)

Position: Placement of the light determines the light quality of the photograph
1) in your hand
2) in an assistant's hand
3) on a bracket
4) on an extension pole
5) on a light stand
6) on a surface - ground, table, floor etc...

Modification: intensity and focus of light

Just like any other light, its strength and direction can modify and enhance the photograph.
The flash can be pointed directly at the subject, bounced off a surface or modified by a difuser.

There are many variables to consider in creating the best image. Each can affect the quality of light, the presence of shadows and the relationship between the foreground subject and the background illumination.
The challenge is to experiment with as many variables as possible to learn what you can do and how it changes the photograph.
1) Amount of ambient light - daylight, night, dusk, indoor window light, indoor artificial light
2) Position of the flash- on camera, in photographers hand, on a stand or holder
3) Power of the flash- The flash power can be altered to fractions of maximum power.
4) Distance from the subject- the intensity can be changed by the distance to the subject. (Guide Number)
5) Modification of the light- direct, indirect bounce, filter, difusion
6) Exposure time and f/stop- changing the balance between the ambient light and the flash is modified by changing shutter speed and aperture

Shoot Portraits, found objects outside and still-life objects using as many of the variables as possible
Shoot a series of images without flash, and then use off camera flash testing variables
Be sure to shoot indoors (Interior and closeup) and outside in bright light, low light and night-time.

After the initial tests, shoot additional photographs of any subjects - shoot without flash and then shoot with flash.

Experiment with this new tool to see what you can do with it. Use the flash in dimly lit environments as well as in sunny and overcast daylight.
Try shooting with your flash at night- blend it with long shutter speed exposures.

Once you become comfortable with basic off camera flash we will work with more advanced techniques including multiple flashes and experimenting with motion

This image could only be taken with off camera electronic flash