by Deanne Kryzalka of eyeCapture Moments Photography
Using off-camera flash correctly has been my “mountain” in my photography career. I was scared, overwhelmed and it took months to wrap my head around some of it but after practicing shamelessly on my kids and reading until my eyes were about to dry out, things started to really click.
When I’m heading to an on location shoot, whether it’s a family or wedding, I take the same main gear every time:
- Canon 5D Mark 3
- Canon 6D (backup body)
- Camera strap
- 70-200mm lens
- 35mm f14 lens
- 100mm macro lens
- 50mm f1.2 lens
- 3 – Canon 600 ex-rts
- 2 – light stands
- 24×24 soft box with double panel diffusion
- Rogue flash bender
- Lots and lots of cards and batteries.
When it comes to my camera and flash settings, I use manual. The more control I have the closer I can get to what I am envisioning.
Step 1: Set my on-camera flash as “Master” using “Group” mode (A, B and C).
Step 2: Set other two flashes to “Slave” (B and C).
Step 3: Make sure they are communicating (green lights).
Step 4: Position light(s).
Step 5: Get an ambient light exposure in-camera, making sure the “Master” on-camera flash is turned off first. To go dramatic, I underexpose the ambient light by 1-2 stops. Turn flash back on and move or adjust the power of the flash(s) according to the look I am envisioning. I generally start at 1/16 power and adjust from there, also moving the soft box closer to the subject for more light falloff or further away from the subject for less falloff. If I do incorporate my third flash (C), it is usually at a lower power (1/64) to create a beautiful rim light.
WHAT I ASK MY LIGHTING ASSISTANT TO DO:
Most certainly when I have a wedding, and sometimes during a family session, I am accompanied by my wonderful lighting assistant. With an assistant, I work much more quickly, efficiently and creatively. For example, an action shot of a family or couple walking is made easy while my assistant is holding the light slightly in front of them (walking backwards all the way) to fill in the shadows. My assistant stays just out of the camera frame and I get a series of shots rather than just one as they are passing a light on the stand – love it! It’s also much easier to ask my assistant to move closer or further back as needed. When it comes to using a diffuser or reflector, he’s invaluable, but that is another tutorial.
LIGHTING FOR DETAILS:
For details, I incorporate back light as well as a pop of side light. Either can be a window or flash. If I use the window as a back light, then my off-camera flash gives my details a pop to the side to give dimension and clarity. I typically love when I can incorporate accent lighting behind the detail I’m shooting.
DRAMATIC LIGHTING: BRIDES AND COUPLES
I approach my couples with the same formula. My soft box angled about 45 degrees to camera left or right, usually facing towards the woman’s face (keeps her features soft), and backlight using off-camera flash (C) if desired. Power is adjusted as discussed in Step 5 of the “SETTINGS” section. In the following pictures, I am only using one off-camera flash in a 24×24 soft box set above the couple and other to camera right.
LIGHTING FOR RECEPTION:
Reception lighting consists of my on-camera flash set to 1/128 power with a rogue flash bender and my assistant holding my 24×24 soft box varying from 45 – 180 degrees and about 20-30 feet from me. I love the dimension the angles create. Ambient light, which is usually already low, is set to 1-2 stops under-exposed to more easily freeze my subject during action shots and/or further isolate my subject.
Although there are many different lighting set ups that would yield beautiful results, I appreciate this opportunity to share what’s worked for me and I hope it helps gives someone another viewpoint when incorporating off-camera flash.