Tag Archives: flash photography

Make the Most of Your Flash

Have you heard that your flash photography will improve dramatically if you use your flash off the camera? Believe me – it will. In this post I outline how to make the most of your flash by using it off camera.

So, how do we use the flash off the camera? In an earlier post I explained How To Use Flash Triggers (thanks to the readers who emailed me with positive feedback about that post). Flash triggers enable us to fire the flash when it is off the camera. With 3 other simple pieces of equipment you will be able to create images with soft, directional flash light. When you master this, you will really make the most of your flash!


Attach the adapter to the top of the light stand

What equipment do I need? In addition to the radio triggers you will need:

  • a light stand
  • an adapter
  • a shoot through umbrella

First, you will need a light stand. This enables you to position the light at whatever height and distance from the subject you like. Second, you will need an adapter. This is the small piece of equipment which attaches to the top of your light stand. It allows the flash to sit on top of it. It also has a hole through it for the umbrella to fit in. Thirdly, you will need something to spread and soften the light. You can use a reflective umbrella or a shoot through umbrella. My preference is the shoot through umbrella as I find it enables better control of the light.


Attach the flash unit to the top of the adapter

How do I set it up?

(1) attach one of your flash triggers to the camera, and one to the flash
(2) set up your light stand
(3) attach the adapter to the connection point on top of the light stand
(4) attach the flash (with trigger attached) to the adapter
(5) thread the umbrella through the hole in the adapter

Now that you have this set up, you can position the light relative to the subject. If you don’t like how your subject is lit, move the light or adjust the power from the flash. Now, instead of being stuck with the flash on the camera, you can use your flash anywhere! This is how to make the most of your flash! (This is a one light setup, for additional light sources replicate the process for multiple lights).

What does it cost? This is a hard question to answer and depends where you live and where you like to shop! I live in Australia and buy most of my equipment at an online store. At that store there is currently a special offer which includes 2 radio triggers, a reflective umbrella, a light stand and an adapter, for A$140.

Off camera flash

The final set up

What next? To build on this lighting set up you can add a portable background. Once you have a background, you effectively have a simple, portable studio. I use this set up when doing corporate portraits in an office environment.

If you have questions about this set up, please feel free to add a comment to this post, or email me at craig@beyondhere.com.au

I hope this post has been useful and will encourage you to take the flash off the camera and make the most of your flash!

How To Use Flash Triggers

Flash trigger

Flash trigger with flash attached

Do you want to learn to use your flash off the camera? And make a huge improvement in your flash photography? In this post we look at how to use flash triggers.

What are flash triggers? Flash triggers are small accessories which allow you to place your flash off your camera (they need to be within the triggers range). When you have learnt to use these, you will no longer be restricted to having the flash sitting on top of the camera. If you want the flexibility to create directional light with your flash – read on for how to use flash triggers.

How to use flash triggers?

Flash triggers are sold singly or in pairs. To get started, you need a pair of them. The flash is mounted on top of one trigger as in the picture on the right.

The other fits into the shoe on top of your camera – as shown in the second image.

These images show the flash triggers which I use – they are called Cactus Flash Triggers V5. A pair of these triggers currently costs A$90 at the online store I use.

Flash trigger

Flash trigger attached to the camera

What settings to use?

Each trigger has a small switch on the left hand side (see the image on the left and the picture below).

The trigger which sits on top of your camera needs to be set to Tx – which stands for transmitter. The one which has the flash on it needs to be set to Rx – which stands for receiver.

When you press the shutter it sends a message to the transmitter, which sends a pulse to the receiver, which then fires the flash.

Flash trigger

Set the trigger attached to the flash to Rx

There is a further switch on the right hand side of the trigger (not shown in the images here). It has a number which relates to a channel. Make sure you have both your transmitter and receiver set to the same channel so they can “talk” to each other. For example, set them both to number 7.

The flash triggers use standard AAA size batteries.

When to use flash triggers?

Flash triggers have many uses. I use mine most often in the studio for additional light, at weddings to create directional light, to light interiors when photographing rooms, and in my stock photography work.

I wrote an earlier post on how to create images with white backgrounds which makes use of flash triggers.

Has this post been useful to you? Has it demystified flash triggers and off camera flash? Has it given you confidence to give it a try? Do you have any questions about flash triggers?