One of the big quests for a photographer is to use flash in a way that creates interesting images and doesn’t have that normal dull on camera look about it.
This image, one of a series done for an ongoing project called “Venetian Nights”, was done with two Canon 580ExII flash units. The trick involved in getting some atmosphere into the shot, apart from the location, model and mask, was to use the on-camera flash as a fill to get some light into the eyes and lift the shadows and to use an off-camera flash as the key light rated a couple of stops higher than the on-camera unit.
This technique and many related to it are all the rage at the current time and one of the advances that has made this approach easy and reliable is the birth of devices like the radio slaves produced by Pocket Wizard, notably the Mini TT1 and Flex TT5. The shot above used a TT1 on the camera, through which the on-camera flash was fired, and a Flex TT5 attached to the off-camera flash.
Whilst the USA version of the Pocket Wizard has suffered from radio interference problems when used with the Canon 580EXII units, the European version, which uses a different frequency to communicate with the flash units, seems to have avoided these problems. One of the really great advances of this system is that it allows full TTL flash performance to be maintained as well as allowing very high speed sync rates which suddenly makes dramatic outdoor shots in full daylight possible provided you remember you are dealing with a small flash unit and keep it relatively close to your subject. We will look at a bridal beach shoot in the next post which used exactly this approach.
The short story here is to get the flash off the camera to allow greater creativity in flash photography. This can be done in the ‘old way’ by using cables but the recent technological additions of Pocket Wizard radio slaves make a fantastic addition to the arsenal of photographers looking for an edge.