Photography Tips and Tricks
The more you use flashes in your photography, the more tips and tricks you tend to pick up along the way. A useful tip is to keep everything in order. Specifically, it means labelling all your equipment so that if you mix with other photographers you know what kit is yours. It also helps if you can count your kit back into the bag at the end of the day. It's also good to get some sort of system to help you set your flashes up as quickly as possible. If you have three flashes and label them A, B, and C, then it's obvious which one you should set on channel A, B, and C if you are using different wireless groups. Work out a system that makes sense for you, and stick to it. The quicker you can set your kit up, the easier it is to focus on what's important—taking a great photo.
Your role as the official wedding photographer is to capture those moments even when light is against you, so you need to fully understand your equipment, it’s not about the most expensive or technical kit it’s about you knowledge and experience, one of the top wedding photographers in the world, won an award for a wedding photograph he took with his I-phone, learn your trade, don’t just think that the latest camera will help you out of a challenging situation.
Another tip is not to put your flashes away just because the weather is poor. If rain or mud makes you run for cover, you're missing out on lots of great photo opportunities. A clear plastic bag makes a perfect rain cover for a flash, especially if tightened up at the bottom with a strap that uses hook-and-loop fasteners. Using a see-through bag means the light can get out easily and you can see your flash settings, too.
It also means any infrared receiver windows don't get blocked. Don't try to seal the bag properly, though—flashes can generate a lot of heat so you don't want them to cook in there. It's better to leave an air gap at the bottom of the bag.
If you are using your flashes outdoors, especially on rough ground, you'll soon realize that getting light stands to stay put can be a bit of nightmare. Some stands, like Manfrotto's popular 001B Nano, has very thin legs. These can actually be pushed into the ground to provide a more stable base, but they do bend quite easily.
Some outdoor flash photographers borrow from the world of fishing and buy fishing pole rests. These are available in a range of sizes and come with a spike on one end to dig into the ground, and a screw thread on the other.
You can even find models that take standard photographic spigots, so you can easily fix a cold shoe on top. These poles often telescope out, using a small thumb screw, and they are widely available for not very much money. They're worth their weight in gold! As a final tip, the best way to get more flash power is to use more flashes.
If you go from one to two flash units, you double the power and get an increase of 1 stop, and by adding two more, you double this. The problem is often how to get four flashes so close together, and how to make them sync.
Lastolite has recently launched a "Quad Flash" bracket, which holds four flashguns close together, fits in a large softbox, and only requires one radio trigger as a cable runs between each hot shoe. The crucial point to remember is that more power equals lighter, as well as a faster recycle time, as you can run the flashes at a much lower power level.
When we are photographing weddings in Somerset we do try to keep things as people friendly as possible; the majority of wedding clients want unobtrusive photography, reportage photography is an art and it’s about capturing the moments without impacting on the guests, if you do have the opportunity to try some more artistic photographs using off camera lighting, you can take your images to a new level but ensure you get the safe shots first, once you have those in the bag, then play away.