December 2020 // The How-to Edition


The mechanics of this are not very difficult.

Step 1. Choose your aperture creatively. For me, I like a really shallow depth of field. I love the way my subject pops off the background. Step 2. Lower your ISO as much as possible. Most Canon, Nikon and Sony cameras support going below ISO 100 to ISO 50. While it might not seem like a big deal at first, you will realize that by lowering your ISO from 100 to 50 to you are making your camera sensor 1-stop less sensitive to light. This is huge for this equation. Let's translate that to your shutter speed. By lowering your ISO by 1 stop it will slow your shutter speed down by 1 stop. So, now your shutter speed will go from 1/8000th of a second to 1/4000th second. Or from 1/4000th second to 1/2000 second. Why is this so important? Because it’s going to change how hard your flash has to work to illuminate your subject. And in this case, we want our flash to work as efficiently as possible. It will help it recycle faster and it will dictate how close or far the flash needs to be from your subject. Step 3. Set your camera, if needed, and your flash and trigger to HSS mode. Every camera and trigger is different. Some automatically adjust, while some require manual changeover. This might be why some of you have struggled outdoors with flash and given up, claiming it’s too hard. You might have to manually adjust your equipment. Refer to your user manual or a quick YouTube search and you will find the answer.

Step 4. Take a test shot. I can’t underscore the importance of this step enough. Your test shot is going to give you a lot of information—most importantly, is there enough light? Your location flash can only put out so much light. So, in order to maximize its effort, you will need to do everything in your power to stop making it work so hard. If you followed Step 2 above, the only other way to make it work less hard is to either stop down on your aperture or move the light closer to your subject and remove the distance the light has to travel. Seeing as we chose our aperture creatively in Step 1, I don’t want to adjust that. So after my test shot, if I have already raised my flash to full power, I will move my light source closer to my subject until I get the amount of light needed to illuminate my subject properly.

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