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How to Take your Flash Off-Camera

Lesson 34 from: Location Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

How to Take your Flash Off-Camera

Lesson 34 from: Location Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

34. How to Take your Flash Off-Camera


Class Trailer

Day 1


Class Introduction


Principles of Light


Speedlights vs Strobes


Compressing the Scene


Location Lenses and Lenshoods


Metering Modes and Back Button Focus


Natural Light Reflectors


Lesson Info

How to Take your Flash Off-Camera

what you want to dio is in many situations take your flash off camera but how do you do that what's the difference between all the different ways you can take it off camera um I'm going to tell you about all the different ways and then tell you the one that you really want because it really is only one solution that yeah there's really only one solution that's going to do what you want all right so here are all the different ways to take your flash off camera we talked about before is with cables you could have ah hot shoe cable which means the cable goes in the top your camera it connects to the bottom of your flash and then it sends all the information so if thinks that the flash is on camera still so all of the information still transmits but of course you only have that length of the cable and who likes wires and cables um it is one of the less expensive solutions but it's still not cheap I believe the has the cannon one on it was like seventy dollars so you can get another system ...

for so much be doubled that but it's going to give you a lot more capabilities to take your flash off camera you can actually just have a think court so it is possible like what you have in the studio where you can plug into the side of your camera and plug into a studio strobe and make it fire with just a thin cord you can't actually do that for your flashes the problem or with your speed lights but the problem with that is it doesn't transmit any information it just makes it fire which could be ok if you just have your flash completely on manual and I'm going to get significantly more in depth in the differences between manual on tt l and how those work but if you're just shooting manual which basically means you're telling the flash spit out this much light and just do what I say just spit out that much light then it would be okay to have a sink cable but then that's another chord saying so in other words don't do these unless you have to but it's nice to know that these exist in case you get in a pinch and like everything you had broke or something but there is a sink cable think court available you could make it work um the next system down is pop up flash on your camera four cannons if you have a pop up flash you can make that flash fire and set off your off camera speed light but it will on ly optically trigger so on the back of your flash you'd have to pick a setting and it's called it's called optical slave saying when you see another flash flash and it will only work again on manual however nikon is more advanced in this particular realm for nikon flashes the pop up flash has something called c l s creative lighting systems and so you can't actually transmit the different compensations and the different output information through that flash the poppet flash and caramel will talk to your speed like that is on ly with nikon systems so if all I want to do is I want to make this this uh b make this power off camera and talk nikon is actually better in that case the downside is is that system is line of sight so you can't for example if I wanted to hide this flash behind the couch and make it fire my little pop up flash on my nikon with the creative lighting system it won't work because they can't see each other so it's actually a line of sight system in the old er er cannons there's a little trigger that you could put on the top of your camera to fire your flashes off camera and you could transmit all the different information but it was an infrared system which meant the little a little output on the front of this trigger had to see this right here and so even if you had just a flash pointed the wrong direction it wouldn't fire you'd have to like the whole time you're doing things where you're like rotating it just so that you could actually see that and it's a huge pain that would be what you would need for actually all of the uh any generation of the cannon flashes that's not the current one that was the best system that they had so kind of a pain but the one that everybody wants without a doubt is wireless of course but it's not just wireless it's radio transmitted because when you have a radio transmission you can send every bit of information you can send information for tt l for manual for high speed sync you could tell it whether to be first curtain a front curtain or were curtain I can do anything that I want and I could have this slash on the other side of that wall and it would still fire which is really useful if maybe you're trying to have a scene and you want light to be coming through the windows I actually did this on a shoot when I was in italy they had this like really beautiful latticework and it was really dusty because it was a place where they made wine and it was just it was old and dusty and I could see the dust and air and I'm like wait if I take that flash and put it through the lattice work I'm going to be able to see those streaks of light with most other systems if if you couldn't see this flash there's no way it was going to fire so it would have to be a radio trigger and then with radio triggers I can take this flash and for example if this is going to be a huge reception hall I can take this flash put it in the back of the room pointed at the ceiling and I could be facing anyway one hundred fifty feet away and it'll still fire so of course some of these wireless radio systems might be more expensive but it's going to do the most for you the newest cannon that's what their trigger is actually kind of just grab it real quick thank you for letting me borrow your gear so this is the newest cannon flash and this is their speed like esty east three rt which I'm like what is the name it's so crazy I would name all my like gear if I were a camera company like names like like the violet transmitter I don't know something cool um so this right here is a wireless radio transmitter and it is more expensive but the other system trust me if anyone that's tried it infrared is a huge pain you're constantly having to adjust your flash just so it can see there were times with the old wire the old infrared where I would actually have an assistant hold their hand on the side of the flash in hopes that the signal would hit the hand and bounce back into the not not really practical okay so that one is awesome it's just slightly more expensive so here's some of the radio systems for canon e of the s t e three faux takes you have odin twit triggers and then pocket wizard there's a whole bunch of different options so I wanted to talk about that a little bit I did tell you about this foe ticks the young newell flashes that I mentioned earlier they also have their own set of triggers that look pretty similar to these this aiken transmit everything's gonna hold still real quick so if you notice I could change this to teach tail or manual that's appear a canoe rear curtain high speed I think it can change the channels I can make tio I can adjust the exposure values I can change the manual flash out puts all of that's right there I don't need anything else um it's nice it works with this just fine if you have a cannon or nikon flash you can actually buy this trigger with an adapter that can work with your candidate an icon flash it's not going to give you as much control nearly as much control as working with the one that's actually made for cannon okay but for pocket wizards so they have all this stuff they got their many there flex their a c three they've got there there's a whole bunch of different ones the pocket wizards that work for studio strobes can work with your speed lights but they don't do what you want it to dio the ones that you usually see that work with speed lights that are like kind of just the toll shaped ones that just plug into the sign when you attach them to their flashes if you just make it trigger it doesn't transmit any information what you actually need is what I mentioned right here it depends on your system but you want the mini flex and a c three if you want it to have the same capabilities as this because at that point you can control all that information all of the power the a c three is what lets me say flash a b and c and I can change the dials on it to change the output for each one of those so it's all kind of dependent on what system you actually have the pocket wizards are generally considered the most reliable the industry standards however when you say those words usually that means more expensive um so take a look at it and just a note that I didn't mention yesterday pocket wizards do trigger and can trigger a studio strokes and we're going to talk about high speed sync later and type or sink there are certain pocket wizard that are made specifically for certain strobes to give them certain capability so if you go to their website they have dozens of products so this is not intended to be a cop out my recommendation is when you decide what speed like system you are going with I would go to your local camera store and talk to them because there's so many different capability say what you need what you want to purchase and what your price point is and they'll let you know which combination of pocket wizard would work or if there is a trigger system intended for your speed light that significantly cheaper I can do everything I need with this trigger with my foe ticks however maybe I'm combining like for example getting more complicated if I take the new uh kanan six hundred artie with its trigger the trigger does not talk to the five eighties where the five fifties or the older ones because it's a totally different system you can get it just to fire them but if you actually want to transmit information to multiple flashes and you only have one six hundred but you have several five eighties and you need to get pocket wizards so I know that probably sounds overwhelming the whole point that I want to communicate to you is that the best option is a wireless system and ideally radio definitely avoid anything that is cable and avoid anything that is infrared or line of sight those are the things that you want to kind of check off on your list so how totally overwhelming was that there's a lot of questions for sure a lot of them are very related individual units specific which I think is understandable so a lot of those I just don't think we're gonna be able to cover in this class because again this is supposed to be a generalized thing I've got one question here that we'll get to in just a second one thing that I do want to get to those oanh I apologize I can't find who the actual a person is who asked the question okay I literally just found it what trigger do you need for speed lights and wouldn't be the same trigger as for strobes are there any of these that work for both systems if somebody is looking to invest both having strobes and speed lights but only wants to get one set of triggers um the answer is yes and it would be pocket wizards it'll work the same but you need an extra piece so if you're using the pocket wizard for example you can use some of these the mini in flexes but you may need an eighty three when you use it for speed lights because this is what controls the power output on the speed life you could actually use it for your power output on the strobes so probably this system right here would cover you from both depending on the system you have foot that being said right so then just one more claire a clarification for photo maker are the third party flashes on ly manual or can any of those be used t l now some of the third party flashes are awesome and khun do manual teo so this one is a third party flash it does manual teal high speed sync it to your curtains troma scott pick it does everything that I need so just go there third party isn't it necessarily a problem but there there are like custom functions with the night like a nikon that aiken set in the nikon camera that when I have a third party it doesn't work anymore because it's not the same flash camera system but I don't use those features and that's tour that will definitely if you're using those features you're beyond one a one for sure okay yeah if you have one flash set up is a master and another one is a slave is there a delay enough of a noticeable delay no no if you have one set oppa's a master one set up is a slave it's there's not enough delayed to affect anything perhaps if you were doing a strobe aske opic effect it might have like if you have uh what that means is during one exposure you can have your flash fire like dozens of times in a row that might affect it but for all intents and purposes you're totally fine it's so fast like that it won't affect it at all actually yeah and then I've got two more here if you don't mind mixing flashes because I took my cannon six hundred ex artie and did it with the eu nu o on it somehow the color didn't seem to quite mashed have you ever had a problem with that yeah so some flashes are not the exact same color temperature some of them are going to be cooler in that case I would check out the rogue gels and see if you can figure out how they don't machin if you can gel it but probably those gels would be too strong for the slight color difference I usually find that um like I had an off brand one when I had the cannon the cannon was warmer than the other one for some reason something to check in your camera depending on what system you have is sometimes some systems can actually it depends on how flat how quick your flash duration is will actually change the color so it could actually be related to that as well so one has a fast flash duration and the other is slower and therefore the color won't match so as far as actually fixing it there's not really much you khun do unless you go ahead and really calculate what the differences and carry a gel around with you it's going to be different I had two quick ones here uh jim wants to know will light meters trigger a speed light late mutual trigger a speed light if you have one of the psychotic brands that trigger pocket wizards and you have a pocket wizard on your speed like perfect love it on and then one from belle jack some strobes have a built in optical slave but a speed like connected to a wireless commander fire both speed light and stroke can you talk just briefly about optical yeah triggering so what optical triggering does is all it's looking for is taking off protective coverings okay um when you haven't optical slave all is looking for is a flash of light and then it fires based on the manual output you have on the back so if I want teo I can set up an entire room that is filled with every brand of speed lights every single different brand of strobe and set them on optical and as long as I've gone around and meter them and got them all to approximately the same f stop I can shoot them all together no problem can't change anything all that's happening is I'm just firing it from my camera I'm just sending out a flash from my camera that says all of you when you see a flash of light fire at whatever setting I gave you so if someone else is in that same room with a camera and a flash they could end up setting off yeah and so that actually that actually happened to me a ton of times at weddings and this is for anybody that doesn't that's had this situation so I had to strobes and I only had one trigger so what I did that for the trigger on the camera and the other pocket wizard or the other whatever system you haven't had that in the other stroke the second one I didn't want to have to go out and buy another pocket wizard another communication tool so I just said it to optical and then as I'm shooting whoever shooting behind me with their flash was triggering mine and the problem is is when I would go ahead and to shoot if they had just taken a flash photo they had just fired my second strobe so it wasn't ready to recycle and then it wouldn't fire so if you've ever wondered kind of what's going on there you would actually need some way to take that off optical another receiver of some sort so I that was that was definitely a pain shooting weddings so now we're going to get back into ah speed light exposure a little bit of repeat from yesterday and then new stuff tt l manual comparing everything side by side all right so speed light exposure so we talked about this already all this stuff yesterday I'll say it just as a refresher but I'm not gonna go in and deeply explain it when you're working with speed lights it's the same thing is when you're working with strobes you have two different exposures one for the ambient light that exists in the scene and then one for your flash the are separate but there is a little bit of overlap and so if you're looking at this is fundamentally your shutter speed control is your ambien exposure so if you take a picture you're looking at the photograph and it's too dark and you're looking at the background it's too dark not the flash but the ambient light if it's too dark you go ahead and you have a longer shutter speed that lets in more light for a flash exposure if you're taking a picture of the background looks great but now the flash is this too bright or too dark you can go ahead and change the output on the back of your speed light or on the back of your stroke and that is how you're going to control the exposure that's the very basics of it that shutter speed in a flash and ambien exposure controls your ambience and the flash output controls the flash exposure but as we said it gets a little bit more complicated than that because aperture does actually affect both because what you're doing is you're opening up the size of the hole in the lens letting in more light and it lets in more light from your flash and also for the ambient but then you have that whole dance where if the flash is just too dim you've turned up your flash output all the way it's all the way at full power already and it's not strong enough I could go ahead and open up my africa were but when I do so it makes the flash brighter but also that ambient light so then I would have to get a faster shutter speed if I want a dark in the ambient light back down the exact exact exact same thing is true with strobes to speed lights there's no difference in these facts the only thing that changes is how flash output is determined which studio strobes it is one hundred percent manual you set how much light is output when you're working with speed lights there is something called tt l where your flash and camera are talking and they make a decision for you they help you too termine how much output there should be from the flash that is the only difference between speed lights and strokes as faras exposure goes so we're going to keep going deeper into that but that's the overall concept behind it so write longer shutter speed gives you brighter ambient light shorter shutter speed gives you darker ambient light and the flash you use output or flash compensation you will be able to control flash compensation either from a trigger and that means literally do you want the flash to be brighter and dimmer you can control that from a trigger or with certain systems like the night concierge less you can control it within the menus of your camera so you can change the input are the output of your flash there okay so just showing you that the same things air true I'm using a speed light here on with uh flash on manual it's the same output in the first one I met one two hundredth of a second if you notice the flash stays the same the second one flash is the same on both but I use a longer shutter speed the flash actually say the exact same power but everything looks brighter because the ambient light has brought up so it fills in all of the shadows the flash might look like it got brighter but it did not it stays the same so don't be confused if you learn that I said these things were all separate and then you go on location you went for a longer shutter speed and all of a sudden well the face looks brighter and I had a flash there but it's not supposed to change the flash it's because the ambient light may affect the same area that your flashes illuminating so all of this information is exactly exactly the same and so you could do the same thing as well I've got all everything the same the background stays the same the only thing I'd change is here on the back of my flash I say full power one toe one output and in this picture I said give me one sixteenth power so it's the same thing for flash outputting we'll talk more about how to change your flash output

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Keynote 3
Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

This class was amazing. Lindsay Adler is a great presenter...I learned so much.....I love that she spoke about natural light..strobes and speedlites. Wonderful information. I purchased this and I am glad I did. Great job Lindsay. Jean


Lindsey Adler is one of the best and most engaging photography instructors in the USA. I highly recommend this lighting course. It felt more like a 101 and a 102 course than just a basic course. She teaches in a way that makes learning alot of fun and the amount of time & effort that she puts into her video and class presentations are second to none. Her classes are well worth their weight in gold and you will walk away with a wealth of knowledge!


Lindsay is amazing , I love the way she explains everything!! This course is filled with GREAT information and helps you better understand natural lighting,strobe and flash. Thank You Lindsay, please keep your classes coming!

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