Off Camera Flash Tutorial : Lesson I, Get Your Flash off Your Camera

You don’t want to be a photographer who only photographs in natural light or TTL just because you don’t understand how to use your flash. The series of at least 3 articles “Off Camera Flash, Baby!,” will provide a jumping-off point and will take your fear out of off-camera flash. I don’t attest to know everything, but I can share what I do know.

Since there’s actually quite a lot of information, I’m hoping to condense it within 3 basic articles. You should already know how to use your SLR in manual mode.

By the end of the series (available for a limited time online), you’ll be able to do basic off-camera flash like this recent engagement session I did:

F/5.6, 1/100, ISO 100; My husband asked if I took this at Area 51. There’s an alien in that RV!

Visit to learn more about lighting set ups :)

Lesson 1: Get Your Flash Off Your Camera!


1. An SLR. I know you have one.

2. A speedlight/strobe:

– Canon users: 430EX II, 580EX, 580EX II

– Nikon users: SB-600, SB-800, SB-900

– Others: Alien Bees

3. A way to trigger your flash off the camera . I use Pocket Wizards (you need 2!). There are Pocket Wizard alternatives from Gadget Infinity ($40) but I can’t really attest to them since I’ve not used them.

For a lower cost alternative, you can try sync cords (try Flash Zebra) or infrared triggers (for example Canon’s ST-E2). Sync cords and infrared triggers come with some cons but I won’t get into it here.

Nikon users can use their built-in flash in Commander mode. Click here for the video tutorial and another video tutorial on how to do this.

4. For Pocket Wizards, do you have the Canon 580EX or below model? Then you need a hotshoe to Pocket Wizard cable as well. Canon 580EX II and Nikon users don’t need one.


5. A light stand. Or your spouse (or willing volunteer). I have both and I prefer my light stand (sorry honey). On recommendation from the Strobist blog, I bought a Manfrotto 5001B and love it. It’s incredibly lightweight and easy to travel with.

6. An umbrella bracket with a shoe mount.

7. An umbrella or other light modifier. I have a 45″ umbrella with a removable black cover from Photoflex.


On Camera Flash

My garage door is famous!



Get your flash off camera and make sure it works. Here are the links to Off Camera Flash Tutorial Lesson 1, Lesson 2, and Lesson 3.

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