You don’t have to use a flash on-camera. Rod Lawton explains the potential of off-camera flash
Off-camera flash can do great things for your photos, so find out how it works and what your model of Nikon is capable of
The first experience most of us have of flash is when the tiny flash unit built into the
camera fires in dim conditions. You get the picture, but the light is harsh and has a strictly limited range.
This gives flash a bad reputation, but it’s actually an extremely useful lighting aid. It truly comes into its own when you use if off-camera, using external Nikon Speedlights or third-party flash units. You can also use your Nikon D-SLR with studio
lighting systems, which offer much more power and versatility and open up a whole world of creative lighting. The direction of the light is all-important. You may not notice it much on an overcast day, but on a sunny one it’s easy to see how the angle of the sun can produce a range of textures and shadow effects in your subject. You see the same effects if you use a flash off-camera, moving it around so that the light hits your subject at different angles.
The ‘quality’ of the light makes a big difference too. The sun is a small, hard light source that produces strong contrast and hard shadows – and a naked flashgun will produce a very similar effect. An overcast sky produces a more even light. You will get a similar result if you ‘bounce’ the light from a flashgun off a wall.
Studio lighting enables you to control the direction and the quality of the light, using lighting stands and flash modifiers to achieve effects that natural light alone can’t create.
Most studio systems are designed to be used indoors and powered by the mains, but there’s an increasing number of outdoor battery-powered flash systems that use wireless triggering technology to allow you to augment natural daylight with controllable artificial illumination.
Off-camera flash opens up whole new opportunities for photography
and creative lighting control