Multiple Flash Photography Tips That Work

Learn to Incorporate Mulitple Flash Units in Your Photos

Multiple flash photography
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If you are ready to take your flash photography to a new level, the next step after using a high-end flash with your advanced camera is using more than one high-end flash. By changing the angles of the flash units in relation to the subject, you can significantly change the look of your photographs. Use these tips to make use of multiple flash photography.


  • Adding more light to the scene. One reason for using multiple flashes is to provide a more powerful light from the flashes versus using one flash alone. With two flashes, the light is much stronger than with a single flash. However, if you're using two flashes side by side, try to keep them at least 6 inches apart, so you don't end up with too much additional light concentrated in one area of the photo, causing a glare in your image. Multiple flashes typically are better used when they're located far away from each other.


  • Lighting objects on different planes. If you need to shoot an indoor scene where objects in the background and the subject in the foreground both must be illuminated, two flash units will work well. For example, the on-camera flash will illuminate the subject, while a second flash can be fired remotely to illuminate the background. It can take a little bit of trial and error to ensure that the light from the two flash units reaches the locations you want in the scene, but it'll be worth the reward when you find the sweet spot!


  • Minimizing harsh light. A second and/or third flash can be used to minimize the harsh light from a primary, on-camera flash, especially if the subject is against a wall, where the flash creates a strong shadow. By placing additional flash units to the right and left of the subject, the extra light can remove the effects of the shadow. Although it may seem like a contradiction to say that adding more light from additional flash units can reduce the impact of the total light from the flashes, this method of setting up multiple flash photographs works well.


  • Slower is better. To achieve more realistic colors in your multiple-flash photo, try reducing the shutter speed. With a slower shutter speed, the natural colors of the shot will brighten and become more noticeable in the scene. At the same time, using multiple flash units will provide enough light to allow the camera to pick up the natural colors, versus using a single flash in a low light scene.


  • Practice makes perfect. When you are initially learning how to use multiple flashes, try shooting plenty of photos and use the flash units at a variety of angles and positions, giving you the best chance of recording a photo with exactly the lighting conditions you want. Slightly changing the positioning of your flash units will greatly change the look of your image, so don't be afraid to experiment a bit, especially as you're trying to learn how to make the most of multiple flash photography. And if you are able to test the flash configuration in the location where you plan to use the multiple flashes before you have to actually shoot the scene, you'll have better results.


  • Go vertical to remove shadows. With multiple flashes, one technique to remove shadows from the face is to use a second flash about one foot above the on-camera flash. This technique also can help diffuse the shadow behind the subject. 


  • Add some color to the scene. Finally, an interesting technique for using a second or third flash is to pair the flash with a colored gel filter. One use for a gel filter is to simulate a specific type of light. For example, using a red gel filter with a flash in a fireplace, you can simulate a fire in the background of your photo. Again, using gels properly requires some trial and error to achieve the exact look you want.
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