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Location Lighting 101

Lesson 32 of 47

Off-Camera Flash and Modifiers

Lindsay Adler

Location Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

32. Off-Camera Flash and Modifiers


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Class Introduction Duration:04:42
2 Principles of Light Duration:33:01
3 Speedlights vs Strobes Duration:11:16
4 Compressing the Scene Duration:21:57
7 Natural Light Reflectors Duration:20:14
8 Reflector Types and Sizes Duration:24:06
9 Reflector Angles Duration:13:11
10 Reflector Materials Duration:15:48
11 Diffusers and Scrims Duration:22:11
12 Diffuser Q&A Duration:14:51
14 Shooting at Noon Duration:17:00
17 Strobes on Location Duration:22:30
18 Inverse Square Law Duration:15:02
19 Strobe Reflectors Duration:16:59
20 Strobe Modifiers with Q&A Duration:25:21
21 Strobe Exposure Essentials Duration:34:00
22 Strobe Exposure Essentials Q&A Duration:12:11
24 Neutral Density Filters Duration:21:06
27 Strobes at Sunset Duration:18:08
28 Strobes in Action Duration:21:00
29 Live Demos and Q&A Duration:30:04
30 Why Speedlights? Duration:15:15
31 On-Camera Flash and Modifiers Duration:30:47
32 Off-Camera Flash and Modifiers Duration:25:43
33 Speedlight Q&A Duration:09:46
37 TTL vs Manual Duration:24:35
38 High Speed Sync Duration:33:18
40 Speedlights for Groups Duration:12:32
41 Using Multiple Speedlights Duration:18:17
43 Lighting on Location Showdown Duration:14:17
45 Options: Pack & Head Systems Duration:15:12
47 Options: Speedlights Duration:10:51

Lesson Info

Off-Camera Flash and Modifiers

when you have flashing camera it's just not the ideal direction of light it's really really flash flat and it tends to be a little bit harsher so instead you want to do something to get your flash off camera because that's going to allow you to shape the faith it's going to allow you to control the drama on camera you just you're more limited that being said like I said in events I'd point out any weight wall and I love that light I loved it better than taking a big soft box adaptor because at that point to give in a similar effect I need a big soft box and a stand and be moving around with it so sometimes actually flash on camera balancing into a wall would be better than taking my flash off camera you just have to know what's more convenient all right so um what we're gonna do is we are going to watch a video real quick on me doing uh taking the flash off camera and you'll just see as I move it how it changes the face and then as I change the modifier and so I'm sure everyone will en...

joy we come back we're going to do off camera flash modifiers quick favorite things before you go into it just a quick clarification there were folks who are looking for the light spin three sixty it's actually the sp been light three sixty so if you're going for that it is spin light three sixty not lights and it was really cute like years ago I met the guy that designed it and he brought it up to me and he told me about this product and I thought it was really exciting when it hit the market you know it's really cool that soon there's a need and you find a solution you create it so congratulations to him by the way but that was pretty cool all right so we're gonna watch that spin light three sixty right okay all right so we're gonna watch once you take your flash of camera why it is better in most but not all situations if you're trying to achieve professional looking portrait's on location using speed lights you really have to take your flash off camera and there really isn't much way around that I mean they're all of these different modifiers that worked great when you're indoors because they're intended to balance the light and then they soften the light but that's improving the quality but the direction makes a huge difference just plain old flash on camera doesn't work great and you know I like this modifier for indoors it looks nice it bounces off the sailing but here well either we have no ceiling like we're outside or were bouncing off the top of trees and I mean even if it kicks some light ford it's still not a great quality of light it's to contrast e it doesn't really make sense the scene it's more or less a flash on camera look so even if you know that you can't really use those modifiers and even if you tried direct flash on camera I mean that certainly doesn't work so the name of the game is getting your flash off camera so you first want to start by modifying it you don't want the flash to be um bear flash you want to make the flash larger and softer and also the closer you'll bring it to your subject bigger that light source becomes relative to the subject softer becomes do you want to find a way to get that flash off camera uh it all depends on what you're comfortable there are so many different options and it definitely will touch on a lot of these options but there is everything from using pocket wizards to the proprietary triggers that the different lighting manufacturers of different cameramen camera manufacturers use to have all those options you can actually have a cord that takes it off camera I could go on and on on but I'm going to show you specifically what I use and I'll show you the huge difference it makes to not on ly enlarge the size that flash but to take it off camera let me take one more shot this is just bear flash and you can see direct on camera won't work all right but let me just see if even with this have no modifiers of taking it off camera helps and it does so now we've taken our flash off camera and the system I'm using is I'm using foe ticks and this is the odin trigger and so it's a wireless communication between the two so if I change the detail exposure compensation for the flash the flash compensation here up or down it will talk to that flash and if they shoot emmanuelle and I changed the manual settings it'll talk to the flash as well so you take the flash off camera just a little bit and perfect and a little bit more so each direction that I'm moved the flash that sydney moves the flash is going to add more shadow but unfortunately as you see that's only part of the equation it's better than flash on camera but not not that great because it's still a bear bowl so what we're going to try to do is improve the quality of that light so the steps that we wanted to take you want to improve the quantity or the intensity of light the direction of light and the quality of this light so we've improved direction okay we're gonna take it off camera we've got that but this bare bulb is not going to do us any good so we're going to add a modifier ok so this is the westcott rapid box octa um this is just really easy to set up that kind of just pops up like a little umbrella it's very very portable this is going to really expand the sides of your speed light you've gotten it off camera it's going to defuse it creates really beautiful light on the face so this is what we're going to start with remember the softer I want that light the closer that I bring it to my subject right there looks good for now bring it a little bit in and a little bit higher looks beautiful the seat and that's and that's it already you know already just having this modifier that close out of frame looks absolutely beautiful so reason up just a tiny bit more good okay now the problem that I will run into of course is if now I want to back up to get a full length shot or zoom out now this is going to be in my frame no problem I come back her up but the problem is the further that modifier gets away from my subject it starts to lose the qualities of that soft light because it's all about the size of that light relative to my subject so I backed up too far now that's not really soft unflattering light as much I've got a little more room it'll still be soft for her to back up a couple more feet but it's gonna be problematic if I want to photograph a group or if I really want a big scenic shot so instead we're going to have to do is get a larger more diffused light modifier and so that's when I start moving up into the westcott apollo systems it's now what we've done is grabbed and even larger modifiers the westcott apollo or it's going to very large so if I need to get a full length shot I can still back this up without worrying about the light becoming too harsh on her so now what I can do is I can kind of change my composition go wide try to get maybe the sun peeking through the leaves and so what you'll notice for each of these is you start off with that flash on camera and it's it's contrast e and it's terrible directional light so the next thing that we do is we modify the light try to get a little bit softer okay well you've got a few little modifiers you can add to your flash but when the flash is still on camera it's not going to be the ideal quality of light or the ideal direction what's the next thing we do is get that flash off camera we're using some kind of wireless trigger and then the bigger you can go with that modifier the softer that lights going to be now straight onto cam is going to be kind of flat light it think less shadows a little happier the further that you bring that light off of camera and around to the side of the model the more shadows you introduced to the scene and the more drama so I want a little bit more shape on her face have you come over here just a little bit great perfect good perfect so there's just a little bit more shaping to her face it looks like a little bit higher production so it turned that way just a little bit more good beautiful mid length fooling shot here beautiful thank you put one hand up real soft beautiful so those are some of the essentials you want to keep in mind get your flash of camera and modify it for going for soft choose a soft model for but I also want to add one more thing softer is not always better for quality of flight perhaps you're going for something that's dark and dramatic you want to take that light far off to the side and you wanna really contrast the modifier so just because for portrait lighting we usually go for softer more diffuse light sources that doesn't mean that should be the only modifier that you limit yourself to definitely if you want more dramatic you want sharper go that way so in that particular instance it was not possible for me to bounce light there was nothing to bounce it off of couldn't bounce it off the ceiling couldn't bounce it off the wall and if my assistant was holding a reflector like I said we could do we could reflect in the problem is if I'm back far enough okay then I've gotta work out those angles we had to turn my flash to reach the modifier tio kip my subject and I need that that reflector to be close to the subject so that its large in relationship to the subject but then at that point I'm playing with angles so probably some of that flash is hitting them so it just gets kind of complicated that bouncing into the reflector work's good for like really close tight shots which just great for portrait's but maybe not if you're doing group shots or you're trying to photograph full length or even mid length eso looking here I mean this is just this is the most blatant basic example ofthe why flashing camera doesn't work because she's not particularly greasy but she looks a little bit shiny in this photo taking the flash of camera making it larger it's it's all the difference in the world so let's continue on this subject just a bit um off camera flash it lets you shape the face and that's something really important swell as you learn more in photography learned how light effects what a person looks like so for example if somebody has a really really round face having a flash on camera isn't good because it evenly lights their whole face and it makes their head and their facebook rounder this especially for someone who's maybe a little bit heavier you want just a little bit of shadowing called modeling the light just to give them a little bit more shape or maybe you want to do a dramatic pose where you if you're the camera you want the person to turn to the side and now that flash on camera it's it's only letting half of their face maybe you want shadows from the side to shape so there's endless reasons to take your flash off camera but one of the things you want to think about and this is as you become more comfortable with your gear it is if you are matching or mimicking the ambient light like for trying to match what it already looks like or if you're trying to contrast it because in this scene what I was going for as I was going for kind of in between clearly this isn't the natural light in that scene but I am going for that same kind of soft feel I'm matching the overall mood of the shot in another instance maybe I'm photographing somebody against the blue sky the sun's in the background and I grab a really contrast the modifier take it off camera go for a lot of shadows and create a really dramatic shot so there's no right or wrong answer for the quality of light all right um I'm going to demonstrate this a little bit later but the general rule of thumb is is wherever your camera is the further that you take that flash off access the more drama you create all the way back to back like two side light so just if you want flats no shadows think flash closer to camera if you want a little more shadows you keep bringing it around to the side I'm but let's take another look of where this has helped out a little bit so I was photographing this woman she's a model in new york and it's an overcast day and we have that really ugly open shade lighting I was telling you about an open shade there's nothing above her head and so what that means is the light source is the open sky it's an overcast day and open sky sounds nice because it's you know an overcast day but it's basically a soft box directly above her head so it's really not a flattering shaped to the light deep shadows in your eyes bright highlights on her forehead and on her nose if I go ahead and say all right I want to improve the direction and intensity of the light so I do want to pop some light in her eyes when I shoot with flash on camera it definitely pops a little bit of sparkle in her eyes but it it didn't didn't really help this shape in fact it really even just drew more attention by put even more speculum highlights on the skin so at minimum what I want to do is take it off camera and so this is an example of just using the flash bender it would be even more flattering I think significantly more flattering if I used a big soft box off camera but if you're trying to stick with all right I want to go off camera but I don't want to buy anything fancy I just want to give this a try you know I am able to at least get a little shape to her faith a little pop to her eyes it's definitely better down the first two options but if I don't want all of this highlight and texture I need a bigger light source and so my thoughts were ok well let's see how close can I bring that the closer that I bring that flash bender to her face the larger it is relative to her face the softer the lightest but even with the large flash bender for her I probably needed to go a little bit softer in my skin wanna one class I talk a little bit about that and this is actually an example that's in that class how to reduce kai contrast on the skin a lot of textures like you have with this individual so I wanted to talk about your off camera speed like modifiers different sizes different options I'll talk through him first and then we'll go over and take a look at just some essentials that you have in some of the different options and I will need that rolling cart back out there please all right so the goals of your modifier usually you're going to change the direction of light you're going to soften or defuse that you're trying to make it larger you could be creative we already talked about that um here my recommendations if you're an event photographer lots of movement you don't really have the ability to have big stands and big modifiers just doesn't fit for what you d'oh I would consider a road flash bender because you could actually just hold it off camera and give yourself maybe for a wedding you just hold that thought of that small flash bender or the large one ofthe caramel while you're shooting you could do that uh the lights fear is good on camera for events and then that late spinner spent I don't know if it's right there either um the next one for portrait ce for portrait you're going to want something a little bit bigger a little bit softer and you will want to take a stand and have the light actually off camera so I like the rapid box octa and strip will take a look at those the westcott apollo siri's is something that you probably want to take a look at last the light makes an easy pop up soft box that would be nice for a portrait and then rogue has a couple of other tools and then the last one is groups if you're doing single port just like you do a lot of senior portrait high school seniors individuals head shots on location this is appropriate kind of these options well let's say that you're photographing like we did yesterday with all you lovely people I need a bigger modifier with more spread so couple modifiers I recommend would be first of all consider multiple light sources and if you watch yesterday and you know why we'll see that today as well umbrellas big pop pop pop of umbrellas westcott has an apollo mega which is its biggest easy to transport soft box and recommend that and then also the faux ticks para pro umbrella it's the one that I use is seventy two inches it's a big umbrella that pops up and then it has diffusion material in the front and it's like a gigantic soft box um a question I get sometimes is alright well there aren't really regular umbrellas on this list um like just a plain and that's what I actually used to use way back when a silver umbrella if you're photographing a group and trying to get a kick alight having one umbrella on either side kind of does this I just need to let the I need them to be evenly lit I don't really quite care about the quality light let's just like this group so it gets the job done and if you already have just regular pop up umbrellas you know silver is going to kick light a little bit further I wouldn't recommend white for groups because you're trying to get a nice even spread which means you usually have to pull the light back which means you're killing a lot of the power try to reach out cause weight doesn't throw latest far um I tend though just like the quality of light coming out of large soft box or large umbrellas with diffusion better looks more like soft boxes which for the average person it's going to be more flattering on their skin it's a little bit softer since it doesn't have as much contrast there's not bright highlights in dark shadows because bright highlights and dark shadows or what show off wrinkles and blemishes and sweaty foreheads and so if I'm shooting with say a silver umbrella because it's a group and I have to move the light far back it's just going to be more contrast the light which isn't going to be the most flattering and everyone so if I could get some kind of diffused or softer light source go really really big and defused it's just going to be more flattering to the skin if you know you're gonna do retouching already that maybe you could go with the umbrellas you have but I'm talking about let's get as close as we can in camera so what I'm going to do now is I'm going toe pop over there for a second and just take a look at modifiers after that we'll talk about what you need to get your flash off camera because I'm talking about taking your flash off camera but how so that'll be after we're gonna pop over there and I've got ah bunch of goodies a bunch of different tools here write something with this just a little and let's take a look and I'm gonna tell you my personal favorites they there are eight billion of these a swell like eight million of the other ones there's eight billion of these ones um so one that I personally use most often is this one it's a rapid box octa and the reason that I like it is that it's lightweight it's portable it pops up really easily seen let's take this off and I can actually go ahead and add my stewart is I can actually add something called a diffusion plate in the center to make this octo box now behave like a beauty dish so it's like a mix it's a beauty dish if I go ahead I could leave the diffusion off and use this panel so if you know what a beauty dishes it look kind of similar if I add the diffusion and take off the panel then it's a soft box so you can go either way um this one it's just easier than taking big soft boxes on location like I said it's easier to set up one person can hold it it's really lightweight whereas for some of the bigger setups like let's even just say this one for this flash goes inside and so when someone's holding it more awkward versus if I'm walking around I could just have an assistant or even myself if I wanted to I could just hold it so it's just a little bit easier for going for portability I'll give a personal shut out for the wrapping box I got that I think last year and it's been hard for me to use anything else because it's so portable so easy to set up I love the quality of light from it and you can even like I actually just it folds up very nicely into a little travelling pouch that it has I throw that in my bag in my suitcase and I've been traveling with it so it's like its robust too so I'm not paid by westcott I just really love what they do yeah and just and just talk about what he's talking about is if you miss it again if you do this it wraps up really small and really really portable so it makes it very very easy to use um I do sometimes like a larger light source so I would bring it closer if I'm doing full length shots and I want something really soft that's when maybe I would bounce up to something bigger so this's my vote if you want super portable and really pretty quality of light you'll see me like that those last shots that I used some of them like in the last scene the first part where I take it off camera was using the rapid box and it's just beautiful it looks like a small octa box so it's my first vote and all pass this off to you for a second and adding the diffusion on the front just makes it a little softer to the skin all right so the next one that I use most commonly these are my top one and two the author was number one this is number two and this one is the apollo orb and so when you look inside also super duper duper portable we're going to talk about this setup I have inside here in a bit but it's actually just on an umbrella okay and so that's really nice because it collapses like an umbrella and then on location you pop it up like an umbrella and you don't have to worry about assembling a soft box on location very portable very light this is any time for me that I'm doing full links or more than one person and I think I like this late a little bit better than the rapid box with the rapid box is just a little more portable yeah and like he was saying the little carrying case that the referee box fits into you can just attach it to the back of your camera bag like you don't have this this you do have to kind of hold you know because it still has the pole for the umbrellas it's not as portable the other one it disappears to almost nothing really really simple so that would be in order of what I would vote this thing right here you do not need three flashes for this to work I just have this set up for a demo later this works totally fine with just one flashing it but we're going to talk about why you would want more than one flash and this is the little bag that the rapid box aach to fix fits into so kind of awesome really portable alright so those would be won in two in order and then after that I use this one for several people or if I'm going for insanely very very very soft light and this is the mega and it's the exact same thing for how that world works it is a pop up umbrella and compact if you saw this yesterday they all do this they all do this male compact and really really small and if you notice how these work is they actually go through the bottom of the modifiers um it just allows you to actually have a soft box without having a soft box so it works really nicely so there is another route that you can take as well um is this all right so here's a modifier we talked about yesterday this one is this one is made by foe ticks it's a faux takes luna uh beauty dish and it's made for a bowen's strobe not a speed like it's made for a stroke if you want to go this direction and don't wanna have to buy specialty tools there are a lot of modifiers intended for speed lights so how this works is this and graham this flash this flash we'll fit onto this cold shoe okay and it gives it a bowen's mount so no any bowen's modifier that I have we'll work with my speed like so now what I can do is I can attach that beauty dish and now I actually have a beauty dish for my speed like so if you and it's not just for bowing to take a look whatever brand of of strobe thatyou have take a look and see if there is a speed light adapter a speed like conversion ring something like that is what you want to look for so this is actually really convenient if I really really love that particular modifier in my studio but I don't really want to take my studio on location I still want the portability of the speed lights you just put the two together and that's another really good solution

Class Description

Getting a great outdoors shot requires a sophisticated understanding of lighting. Both beginning photographers and seasoned professionals must overcome the same challenges when addressing glare, shadows and full or partial sun. This course is your introduction to the skills you need to shoot successfully in any outdoors situation.

This course is broken into short, practical segments so you can easily review the applicable tips and tactics when you need them. You’ll learn about working with single and multiple flashes, reflectors, and speedlights. Lindsay Adler also shares the best times to opt for studio gear and guides you through ways to incorporate it in your outdoor workflow. You’ll gain a complete understanding of the tools and techniques you can use to meet your location lighting goals.

By the end of this course, you’ll be ready to conquer any outdoor lighting situation whether you’re working with a $30 flash or a complete on location studio.


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!