Off Camera Flash Setup For Beginners

When and where do you use off camera flash?! That’s what we’re going to dive into today! This is a perfect step-by-step tutorial for beginners wanting to learn how to use off camera flash! Maybe you’ve used a flash on your camera and you’re ready to take it to the next level but not go super deep into learning flash – today’s video is for YOU! 

When & Where Do You Use Off Camera Flash?

This is a really important first step to dissect and talk about.  When I’m using off camera flash, I’m either at the reception or photographing portraits where I don’t have enough natural light. I’m NOT using flash most of the time when it’s bright outside. For weddings especially though when I no longer have the sun or I’m in an extremely dark church, I’m definitely going to use an off camera flash to maintain the ambiance and the black background. 

Particularly, for dancing, recpeptions, and all the other important events that go on at a wedding at the reception, I want to make sure I can capture the room and what it felt like with everyone there. I can do that BEST with off camera flash. 

How do I get started with Off Camera Flash?

You’ll first need a set of two flashes – I personally use the Nikon Sb910 flash. You’ll want to have one on your camera of course and one for off camera. I also use radio triggers so I can talk to my flashes when they are off camera. I’ll have one camera with me, place a trigger on top of the camera, and then I’ll put a flash on top of the trigger. The reason I use triggers is so I can change the controls, speeds, and amounts across the room. I can change my settings from across the room on my flash which is nice so I don’t have to physically go over to change the settings on the flash. 

Once I have the on camera flash setup, I go ahead and have one on camera setup. I’ll have another trigger and a receiver which will allow both of the flashes to go off. You can play around and learn how much control you have over what kind of flash you’ll get. Typically, I put my off camera flash on a stand throughout the room wherever I think it’ll function best.  

How To Turn Your Flash On

For my particular system, I have to run my flash on from top to bottom. So I’ll turn on my trigger, turn on my flash, the transmitter, and the camera and then the flash and transmitter on the off camera flash. 

Troubleshooting Tip: If your flash is not firing as it should, first check the battery and then check that your flash is properly in the hot shoe. 

You HAVE to read the manual your specific gear and take the time to learn how everything works. Once you understand the system that you have, then you can get creative with it. 

What Camera Settings Should I Use?

Your camera settings are COMPLETELY dependent on the situation. I’m always shooting in manual on my camera AND manual for the flashes. I don’t want my flash and my camera to decide my settings for me because then they will vary a lot.

The BEST thing you can do is put your camera on manual and your flash on manual and learn from there. Your shots are going to be way more consistent and ultimately, you are way more in control.  

Typically, my ISO is around 800-1600 depending on how dark it is. The highest shutter speed you can have is 1/200 of a second or slower to get the best shots. When you take a picture with flash, the flash freezes the motion. 

As a rule of thumb, I’m usually shooting at 1/16th power or 1/8th power. Sometimes I’m using my on camera flash as the main flash and I’m just using a key light or a fill. Honestly, I play round with flash a lot and learn as I go. 

I hope this beginner tutorial was immensely helpful! Leave a comment below with any questions you may have or something you learned about off camera flash. 

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