Thoughts on Handheld Off Camera Flash

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#1 KVN on 5 years ago

I recently purchased a flash sync cord for this purpose. Anyone here use this method for the quick hallway shot? I'd be curious to know your results. Post pics if you have them.

#2 Tang on 5 years ago

I personally use remotes instead of sync cords just because of TTL . You can check out the two links in my signature, almost all of them are done like this with either someone holding the remotes or them sitting on something nearby. Control of lighting when in manual mode on flashes are so much better.

#3 nathancarter on 5 years ago

Yes, but not technically handheld. I bought a lightweight backpack frame, attached a vertical rod to that, and stuck the flash (with ETTL cable) on top of the rod. The flash is about 18 inches over my left shoulder. Keeps my hands free, gives a nice separation between flash and lens axis, looks ultra-dorky.

I haven't used it much yet, but I'll post an example when I can get to them. Or, if you go to my Flickr, go to the DragonCon 2014 set, scroll down to the aquarium shots. The Big Daddy in the tunnel, and the huge Bioshock group shot were done with this setup. The Bioshock group shot is stitched together from about five shots.

My Steampunk lighting rig has two over-the-shoulder lights but they're not ETTL, plus it's super heavy.

I think Patcave sometimes uses a handheld off-camera flash.

#4 Av4rice on 5 years ago

I tried it once with the flash on a boom and synced with radio triggers. The boom helped me get it out further than my arm reaches, and let me put it on the right side if I wanted. Worked out pretty ok in terms of the light, but it was cumbersome to move around with. Also tricky in crowds where the light can be bumping into people or blocked by people.

Decent shot with that setup:

[url]https://www.flickr.com/photos/shotwhore/11697133033/in/set-72157639288095665[/url]

#5 Patcave on 5 years ago

[QUOTE=nathancarter;4865260]
I think Patcave sometimes uses a handheld off-camera flash.[/QUOTE]

When I'm in wandering hallway photo-taking mode (i.e. vacation photos), I use my Canon EOS M in my right hand, and hand-hold a speedlite with either a diffuser cap on it, or a Rogue flash-bender with diffusion panel for a mini-softbox, with my left hand. I usually go with remote triggers, not a cord, to deal with popping the speedlite. Sometimes I'll put the speedlite on a boom stick for some extra reach for the flash (like I did for a Star Wars party this past Saturday night).

#6 KVN on 5 years ago

[QUOTE=Patcave;4865431]When I'm in wandering hallway photo-taking mode (i.e. vacation photos), I use my Canon EOS M in my right hand, and hand-hold a speedlite with either a diffuser cap on it, or a Rogue flash-bender with diffusion panel for a mini-softbox, with my left hand. I usually go with remote triggers, not a cord, to deal with popping the speedlite. Sometimes I'll put the speedlite on a boom stick for some extra reach for the flash (like I did for a Star Wars party this past Saturday night).[/QUOTE]

This sounds like the perfect portable solution. A flash bender with a diffusion panel appears much less cumbersome than carrying around a large softbox of the same diameter. How would you say your handheld photos came out with that setup?

#7 Patcave on 5 years ago

[QUOTE=KVN;4865891]This sounds like the perfect portable solution. A flash bender with a diffusion panel appears much less cumbersome than carrying around a large softbox of the same diameter. How would you say your handheld photos came out with that setup?[/QUOTE]

I think I shot this set with the speedlite/flashbender/diffusion panel hand-held setup (with my EOS M camera), it was Sunday, and I packed all my light stands in my luggage already beforehand, etc, so I went light-weight):

[url]https://www.flickr.com/photos/patcave/sets/72157644038084032/[/url]

Last weekend, I shot this set with the speedlite/flashbender/diffusion panel mounted on a light pole for additional reach, with just my EOS M as well (they're not the best photos, but a nice light-weight setup for on-the-go shooting):

[url]https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10203128251960252.1073742002.1625474925&type=1&l=dc9cc7a733[/url]

#8 SolarTempest on 5 years ago

I'm not doing this much for my cosplay photography, but if I'm casually shooting an event I might use a Lumiquest Softbox III or other diffuser handheld. Pretty convenient and super light setup!

Photo quality is pretty decent, given the little amount of effort required to execute. If the subject has a friend, I get them to hold the flash even further off camera for me, which results in even better photos!

#9 PaulCory on 5 years ago

I've done this, both handheld, and using a boom arm. Handheld, I use something like a Lumiquest Softbox II, or a nearby white wall or ceiling and a small bounce card. If I'm using the boom, I use a 25 inch shoot through umbrella.

When I do this, though, I also use a flash on camera, usually in a small soft box like a Honl Traveller 8, dialed 2 or 3 stops back from the off=camera light, to fill in the shadows some and make the eyes pop.

#10 Henrickson on 5 years ago

I use a (copy of a) flash bender on my Speedlite. Synced wirelessly with PT-04s. The flash bender has 2 sides, white and black. This allows me to use my flash in 2 modes:

A) Low or medium ceiling: Black side facing the cosplayer, the flash bender functions as a flag. I bounce my flash off the ceiling, providing soft light onto the subject. I make sure no direct flash hits the subject.
B) High or no ceiling: White side facing the cosplayer, the flash bender functions as a bounce card. I curve the flash bender so that it catches all of the output, and beams it towards the subject as fill light (sometimes key). I use mainly available light in this mode, and the bounced flash off the white side of the flash bender serves to fill shadows in the face.

Same thing with walls, it depends on their distance. The only common thing about ceilings and walls is that they must be white or light gray, and devoid of any strong saturated colors. I already made the mistake of bouncing my flash off a bright red wall... Watch out also for glass and metal, they don't really diffuse the light.

#11 nathancarter on 5 years ago

[QUOTE=Henrickson;4872179]B) High or no ceiling: White side facing the cosplayer, the flash bender functions as a bounce card. I curve the flash bender so that it catches all of the output, and beams it towards the subject as fill light (sometimes key). I use mainly available light in this mode, and the bounced flash off the white side of the flash bender serves to fill shadows in the face.[/QUOTE]

Do you feel that this gives an improved look, compared to simple direct flash for fill?

You're only gaining a couple of inches of off-axis distance, and while the flashbender is several times larger than a bare flash head, it's still not what I would call a "large" light source.

#12 KVN on 5 years ago

I recently used a flashbender knock off with diffusion panel. I can't afford $60+ for the real thing, and I definitely can't afford $95 for the xl pro. A 28" collapsible beauty dish is cheaper. Anyway, on to my review. After two short outings outdoors I can say I'm pretty impressed with this modifier. Even with it mounted on my camera it still gave me fairly great results compared to a bare flash, bounce card or stofen attached. I would use this over any of those. I did get some hard shadows, especially around the nose and under the jaw when I held it off camera though. For $10, it's not a bad piece of equipment to have in your camera bag. Thing is, I just found a 24" plastic beauty dish that you can collapse and fold away for $8. At 24" it's almost three times as big as the flash bender, and 20% cheaper too. I haven't used it yet, but I'm hoping it does a much better job at softening shadows. Maybe I can use my flashbender as a off camera kicker or rim light instead. Thoughts?

#13 Patcave on 5 years ago

At Heroes Con, I shot my cosplay photos on the convention floor with a dual speedlite setup, with 2 Flashbender knockoffs with diffusion panels on each, on a light stand inside a bat bag bungie-wrapped to a small hand truck. While not ideal, it's mobile enough to not be really obnoxious like a big brolly would be (and not as easily to hit people with while moving through the aisles.

(Also, I avoid shooting closely against walls whenever possible, but sometimes, it's all your have).

Facebook album link:

[url]https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10203518786643375.1073742020.1625474925&type=1&l=715f3c9ea9[/url]

Flickr photo set link (not all uploaded yet):

[url]https://www.flickr.com/photos/patcave/sets/72157645104477710/[/url]

#14 KVN on 5 years ago

Thanks for the samples Pat. I just got my $8 beauty dish today. Images coming out of it are looking real good considering I was just holding it on an outstretched arm.

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