January 27, 2012

Off-Camera Flash: Adventures of Steve & Cecilia

End of 2011 I decided I wanted to learn how to shoot with off-camera flash.  Literally, all I had been doing till that point was shooting with my speedlight on-camera in TTL, bouncing the light wherever I could.

First thing I did, was try playing around with it myself.  Sometimes I can figure things out and teach myself.  I had a lightstand, flash, wireless triggers and even a softbox and umbrella.  I dragged my husband & gear out to "test" it out and experiment and failed big time.  I think I walked away even more confused.  :)

Second thing I tried, was talking to other photographers for advice and tips.  No luck (and usually this is an awesome way to learn!).  It seemed like a lot of photographers weren't sure themselves and it started discouraging me.

"Play with the settings,"

"I don't really know what I'm doing,"

"eventually one of the settings will work for you,"

YIKES!  I couldn't imagine "playing around" with my settings for 10 or 15 minutes while a bride & groom stood there waiting for me to take their photos!  To me, off-camera flash became a monster I didn't want to face and I started feeling really apprehensive about it.  I wasn't getting any clear answers or concrete advice, I started to think that it MUST be SUPER hard and technical and was ready to leave it alone.  Only, I kept thinking of ideas that I wanted to shoot and these weren't possible without off-camera flash.  I check around to see if any local photographers taught off-camera flash and found Paul McDermott from PMD Photography who teaches off-camera flash workshops!  And even better, he also offers one on one tutoring!  I called him up and booked a time for Steve and I to meet him to learn the basics.

Today was the day!  Steve and I headed out to Port Moody this afternoon and met up with Paul.  And, you know what?  We both learned something. :)  Surprisingly, it was way easier than I expected (maybe because of our great teacher!), but Steve and I both learned and we are at different experience levels.  Steve started shooting and learned how to shoot in manual this past summer (2011), where I have been shooting as a business for 2 years now.

And, even with our "poverty wizards" (cheap wireless pocketwizards: Yongnuo) we rocked it. :)  The biggest thing I learned was to expose for the background (where when you shoot weddings and portraits in natural light, you expose for the person/face!), then your flash will take care of your person.   Your speedlight then has 3 variables you can adjust:  the distance the light is from your subject, the focal length and the power.

So do you want to see what we shot today?  Haha, we are total beginners, so these shots are set up pretty basic/boring and most of the time with only 1 off-camera flash (some have 2!).

Here you go!  Any photos of Steve were shot by me!  Then, obviously the photo of me was shot by Steve. :)

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