Once you have a handle on getting predictable well-exposed pictures with your Speedlight off-camera, that’s when the fun really begins.
It’s a matter of finding willing subjects to be in front of your camera.
Yes, we’d all like to work with a shirtless David Beckham or a bikini clad Aishwarya Rai but that will have to wait.
At this point, you need to practice.
Wireless or Hardwire?
If you choose hardwire, it will be cheaper and exposure controll will no doubt be easier.
More importantly you won’t get EMF interference.
(During my Small Flash Lighting workshop, when I had 10 photographers flooding the auditorium with wireless signals, we had some issues with Speedlights not triggering)
You get i-TTL (Nikon) or E-TTL (Canon) and even have High Shutter Speed synch capability because the cord fools the camera and the flash into thinking they’re physically connected.
Best of all down the road should you elect to buy another Speedlight from Nikon or Canon (OEM), you can probably use one as the Master and the other as the Slave, again simplifying your lighting setups.
If you’re not using OEM (original Equipment Manufacturer) Speedlights and opting for Vivitar, Sygma or some other brand, you have to be careful.
Some third party Speedlights have voltage that can harm your camera.
In that instance your only option is radio slaves.
Wireless, radio or infra-red, systems use 1 transmitter and 1 receiver with options to add as many receivers as you have Speedlights.
Spring for 2 receivers off the bat, if you can.
That will give you more flexibility.
Don’t forget if you plan to shoot in the early morning or late evening, you will now have 3 light sources.
Gels-Color Correcting & Special Effects
Another necessary item in your kit is color gels.
In the case where you are using daylight as a 2nd light source especially in either early morning or late evening, the color temperature is warmer than the light your flash outputs.
What’s needed in that case is the CTO (Color Temperature Orange)gel to warm up the light from your Speedlight to make it believable and subtle.
As a photographer, I want to draw as little attention to my lighting as possible and I also want to be subtle. This keeps all the attention on the subject of my picture.
Most kits come with a variety of color correcting gels to match incandescent or tungsten, or even florescent lighting.
For my portrait of Mina on the left, I used the same one Speedlight beauty light setup as I did with Colleen.
The only difference is, this time, I added a 2nd Speedlight with a blue gel to change the color of my backdrop giving me more contrast.
I made sure to place this Speedlight to give me 1 ½ to 2 stops under-exposure for a deep blue color.
That also provides better separation between Mina’s head and the grey background.
Mouse over the image to see the difference.