Here's Why You Should Take Your Flash Off Camera Whenever Possible

When you're first starting out with lighting, the natural thing to do is use your on-camera flash or a hotshoe speedlight. However, unless you're going for a very specific look, this will generally not give you the best results. This great video shows you how even just a single speedlight can give you great results when you move it off camera.

Coming to you from Miguel Quiles over at Adorama TV, this helpful video will show you the results of using an on-axis, on-camera flash, bouncing it, and then moving it off camera. Simply put, one of the quickest ways to advance your use of artificial lighting and the quality of your output is to get the flash off the camera or at least bounce it. You'll often notice wedding photographers bouncing their flash off the ceiling or walls of the venue: this allows them to take a small, harsh source and use the architecture around them to create a larger, softer, and more flattering light source. If you're working in a studio environment and have both the time and control to shape the light as you want, you're in the best possible scenario, as Quiles shows in the video. Check it out above for the full rundown.

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4 Comments

Elan Govan's picture

Thank you, Alex. Another quick tutorial for friends and family members. Thanks

>> Simply put, one of the quickest ways to advance your use of artificial lighting and the quality of your output is to get the flash off the camera or at least bounce it.

If only Helmut Newton had had Alex to advise him - think of the career he might have had! Oh well - it's not too late for Alex to save Henrik Purriene, Juregn Teller, or Testino...

Off-camera flash is NOT better than on-camera. In fact, on-camera is not even a single look. Off-camera is only definitively better if you like most the god-awful cliched middle-of-the-road commercial look possible in preference to anything else.

Alex Cooke's picture

I don’t normally respond to sarcastic and/or patronizing comments as I find them to be a good indication that productive discussion is unlikely to happen, but you seem a little wound up. The article makes it clear from the first sentence that it’s oriented toward beginners. Anyone of the level of the names you mentioned has complete control of their lighting, and if they use on-camera flash, it’s a conscious artistic decision as opposed to a beginner who may not understand all the possibilities beyond the default hotshoe position. The point of that statement is that for any beginner looking to create commercially viable photography, whether that be portraits, product shots, etc., getting the flash off camera is generally going to lead to the looks clients want. Also, if you think all off-camera flash work looks commercial and cliched, I’d say you’re not looking at the work of enough photographers.

Arun Hegden's picture

Simple and neat. Thank you for sharing. :)