Off Camera Flash, Gorilla Style

This workshop is designed for the average photographer who will never spend vast amounts of money for expensive lighting equipment. This workshop is for the individual who desires to make better images with a small amount of easily portable and affordable equipment.

We call this a Gorilla Style workshop because we will literally take to the environment and make awesome photographs with the resources that environment provides. In other words, this will be a real world, hands on exercise where you will learn by doing. Because you will be doing, you will retain much usable information which you will use again and again in your photographic work.

The course outline will be as follows:

  • Discussion: In this section, we will go through a workbook together. Workbook sections will include:
    • A discussion of minimal required equipment and typical usage, including:
      • Selecting equipment.
        • Camera.
        • Flash.
        • Flash triggers.
        • Light stands.
        • Light modifiers.
        • Batteries.
      • Working with your camera in manual mode, which requires the ability to:
        • set ISO sensitivity.
        • set the shutter speed.
        • set the aperture.
      • Working with the flash in manual mode, which requires the ability to:
        • set the flash output.
        • configure one or more flashes to be triggered by a radio transmitter or as an optical slave.
      • Working with flash triggers, including:
        • Working with channels.
        • Working with groups.
    • A discussion of basic techniques, including:
      • How to control illumination:
        • Controlling ambient light with the shutter speed.
        • Controlling flash brightness with the aperture.
    • A step by step process to shooting with off camera flash.
      • Illuminate the background.
      • Illuminate the subject.
      • Control the quality of light.
      • Check the histogram.
  • Gorilla photography: In this section, we will meet at a predetermined shooting location where:
    • The participants will be divided into working teams. Each team member will draw for for a shooting order, beginning at one and incrementing sequentially.
      • Each team will be assigned a shooting location and a model.
        • Each participant will, in turn, function as the lead photographer. Here he will:
          • Make images where he will learn by doing.
        • When not functioning as the lead photographer, team members:
          • will function as an assistant to the lead photographer and do precisely as directed. A lot of learning will occur here as the participants watch the lead photographer build his image.
          • will learn by assisting the lead photographer who’s creativity will inspire the remaining team members.
          • After the lead photographer captures his or her images, others on the team, in sequential order may quickly use the existing light setup to capture an image for himself, but one of the following conditions must be met:
            • Move one light far enough to half the distance between the light and the model.
            • Move one light far enough to double the distance between the light to the model.
            • Remove a light modifier from at least one light.
            • Add a light modifier to at least one light.
            • Move one light at least three feet.
        • Every 20 minutes, the teams will move to the next shooting location where the next sequential participant will function as the lead photographer, repeating the sequence.
        • The process will continue until each participant functioned as lead photographer at least once.

As a workshop participant, you will need the following:

  • Equipment that you must provide:
    • A digital camera that can be set for manual operation where the ISO, shutter speed and aperture can be independently set by the user.
    • A flash (speedlight) that can be removed from the camera and configured to fire radio trigger or as a slave.
    • Extra batteries for the camera and flash or flashes.
  • Equipment that we will provide:
    • A basic lighting kit for each team including:
      • Two speed lights.
      • Two light stands.
      • One shoot through umbrella or softbox.
      • Colored jells.
      • Miscellaneous and unexpected light modifiers.
  • Skills
    • Required Camera Skills
      • Know how to change the battery in your camera.
      • Know how to set the ISO at various sensitivity levels.
      • Know how to change the shutter speed.
      • Know how to change the aperture settings

Equipment recommendations:

  1. Here are a few recommendations for off camera flash kits. You may, however, chose to consider not purchasing a kit until after the workshop so that you can get some hands on experience with the lighting we will provide.

    •  Yongnuo YN-560IV Wireless Flash Speedlite kit for Nikon or Yongnuo YN-560IV Wireless Flash Speedlite kit for Canon. These are two flash kits. Other kits are available with a single flash.
      • Pluses
        • The kit comes with a dedicated flash trigger transmitter.
        • The trigger receiver is built in to each flash, eliminating the need for a separate receiver and connecting wires.
        • Each flash can function as a camera mounted trigger transmitter.
        • The trigger transmitter and flashes support multiple channels and groups. This allows photographers who are using the same equipment in the same area to select different channels and eliminate the possibility of one photographer’s trigger firing the other photographer’s flashes. It also allows the photographer to place one or more flashes in each group and adjust the flash output levels independently for each group. This allows for total light control without leaving the camera.
      • Minuses
        • This trigger transmitter works only with the Yongnuo YN-560IV and the YN-560III.
      • Disclaimer
        • There is no disclaimer. I use and fully recommend this system.
    • Altura Photo Professional Flash Kit for Nikon or Altura Photo Studio Pro Flash Kit for CANON. These are two flash kits. Other kits are available with a single flash.
      • Pluses
        • The system allows for TTL metering for the Nikon and Canon cameras respectively.
        • The system should work on cameras made by other manufacturers but TTL will not be available.
        • The triggers should be able to be used to trigger speedlights made by other manufacturers.
        • Multiple channels are supported. This allows photographers who are using the same equipment in the same area to select different channels and eliminate the possibility of one photographer’s trigger firing the other photographer’s flashes.
      • Minuses
        • Trigger transmitters and receivers represent more gear to keep track of. For me, the less gear, the better.
        • Flash output levels cannot be set at the transmitter. This requires the photographer to physically change output settings at each individual flash.
      • Disclaimer
        • I have not personally used these flashes so my comments are based on available reviews only.
    • Finally, here are a few solutions for those in a tight budget. Amazon Basics Flash and  the Neewer TT560 Flash Speedlite
      • Pluses
        • Thirty bucks a copy make these affordable on any budget. For very little, you can have a whole bag of light.
        • Can be triggered by radio triggers, purchased separately. Or, as a slave, firing when your they see your pop-up flash wink.
        • These are reported to be well made and reliable.
      • Minuses
        • If you want to use a radio trigger, you will have to purchase it separately.
        • These are reported to be less powerful than the flashes listed above.
        • You can only change light power at the flash. I do not consider this to be a serious issue.
      • Disclaimer
        • I have no first had experience with these lights.