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Off Camera Flash Tutorials

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Hi! I have a Yongnuo flash and an octagon rapid box.  I can't seem to get the hang of using this properly.  I use the manual settings on the flash and I can't seem to get consistent shots.  Where can I find a good tutorial site like this one to learn how to use my speedlight?  

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I like Zack Arias' tutorials. I find him easy to follow. Unfortunately, it seems he is overhauling his website, so his OneLight 2.0 Tutorial is not currently available. That said, here is an excerpt from that creativeLIVE class.

First off, your camera's built in meter IS COMPLETELY WORTHLESS when it comes to off-camera flash. That's the first thing that usually trips people up. The second thing is you are dealing with a different exposure triangle, so you have to think differently. The main rule when it comes to flash is:

  • Aperture controls what Flash Power you use
  • Shutter Speed Controls Ambient Light.

ISO can help with the Ambient Light too, though it's really the two main things that you need to get straight in your head. Most of the time, you set your shutter speed to the sync speed of the camera, usually 1/200th or 1/250th, but I have seen 1/160th used a lot.

The third thing is something called the "Inverse Square Law." What that means is your light source loses 75% of the intensity or "Umph" when you double the distance between your subject and flash.


Say you put your flash 2 feet away from your subject, and then move it 4 feet away...your flash will be 75% less bright than it was at two feet even though the power settings on the flash haven't changed. Now move it to 8 feet away, that's another 75% drop off in intensity. Then 16, then 32, etc. Most folks work in the 4-6 feet range when dealing with a speedlight and modifier that you are using.

The trick is having the right flash at the right distance using the right modifier for the look that you want to accomplish with enough power to do what you want to do. Most folks start out with a Speed Light, such as the Kung-Pow! flashes or a Nikon / Canon Speed Light. Then they move the light 8 feet away and put a fancy modifier and their results look bad. The reason is sometimes you can get away with a Garden Hose (Speed Light,) other times you need a bigger light, which is like having a Fire Hose, in order to fill up that fancy modifier, which eats a little bit of light, and enough "Umph" to light your subject. The closer the flash is, the softer the light and less contrast in the shadows that you will have. Of course the further away you have the flash, the harder the light and there will be more contrast in the shadows. That's why people think flash is so "Icky." The reason is most of the time they are dealing with a stupid pop-up flash 8-10 feet away from their subject and take a photo. Of course it's gonna look bad. (Small light source + that's far away = icky photos.)

So what are you doing specifically, how are you triggering the flash? What are your power settings? What are you trying to photograph? Do you have a large reflector to use? Can you give us some examples on the problems you are having? It's really quiet here in Ask Brian, so I want you to pick my brain. 

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Thanks Brian!  I happen to have watched that clip the other night by Zach Arias.  I will definitely pick your brain but will have to get back to you over the next few days with the specifics of my equipment.  

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