Mastering Manual Flash: Go In-Depth on Off-Camera Lighting

Photographers often hit walls when controlling off-camera lighting on shoots. While TTL flash offers some automation, real mastery means moving to manual settings for predictable, quality results. The excellent video tutorial will put you on the right track. 

Coming to you from Omar Gonzalez Photography, this great video tutorial breaks down core flash principles like distance fall-off, modifiers, and leveraging camera settings intentionally. Rather than just grasping individual concepts, he emphasizes interweaving them for fluid creativity. This requires rewiring thinking to consider aperture, shutter speed, and ISO as exposure “stops” that directly tie to compensating flash power.

Through methodical experimentation, Gonzalez advocates cementing the relationships between variables. For example, bumping ISO from 100 to 400 requires reducing flash intensity two full stops to counterbalance. Building photographic “reciprocals” into muscle memory this way lets photographers adapt lighting to needs on the fly. The quicker you can learn to think in terms of these combinations rather than separating the parameters into individual variables, the easier you will find working with flash. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Gonzalez.

If you would like to continue learning about how to light a portrait, be sure to check out "Illuminating The Face: Lighting for Headshots and Portraits With Peter Hurley!"

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Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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