5 Tips for Shooting Off-Camera Flash, Part 5

This week Jason Anderson from Canon Blogger continues his five part series on learning how to use off-camera flash.

The final installment of the off-camera flash series is here!  For the past five weeks, I’ve been posting various tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your minimalist off-camera flash setup.  The equipment is a single flash, a light stand, and an umbrella.  The goal was to come up with 5 tips for how to get the most out of it!  Here’s what we’ve done so far:

1.  Attached the umbrella correctly
2.  Positioned the light as far away from the shoot-through as possible
3.  Added a little extra diffusion from the built in diffuser for your flash
4.  Stabilized the light stand by spreading the base to it’s widest point – adding a possible “4th leg” in the process too!

So, how are we going to round things out this week?  By turning things around!  Yep, the tip is to use the shoot through umbrella as it’s own reflector!  Take a look at the results.  I took a picture of the world (okay, it was a globe in our spare bedroom) from the flash in two different setups:


While it’s always better to shoot with your flash off-camera, this is probably the best lesson in showing that just because your flash is off-camera doesn’t make it good light!  Yes, it’s better than on camera lighting, but look at that harsh specular highlight, and how…well, boring the photo on the left looks.  Then consider the photo on the right – the hottest part of the light is nowhere near as specular (bordering on not even becoming a specular highlight…), and the diffused, reflected light gives some nice character and a sense of depth lacking in the first.

Here’s the lighting setup for each shot:

So, as you can see (hopefully), this demonstrates that turning things around (not just your camera) can have a surprisingly good effect from time to time.  It really becomes subjective at this point, and some may prefer one style over another, but that’s part of what makes the craft so enticing – you are limited by nothing more than your vision!

Thanks for tuning in to this unique 5 week-long series on off-camera lighting – I hope you enjoyed reading these tips as much as I enjoyed writing them!


Kerry Garrison lives in Castle Rock, Colorado with his wife and two dogs. With 10 years of experience shooting products and 5 years of experience in the wedding industry, Kerry brings a good deal of technical know-how and can explain topics in easy-to-understand terms.

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