Hillsdale Michigan nighttime portraits streetlight

[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You http://www.belovelyyou.com”]Today’s feature is from .

Heather says:

“This session was a blast! The couple were so comfortable and cuddly with some simple guidance.

We shot in a small town with a LOT of character, so I decided to use Off-Camera Flash in order to make the most of the gorgeous location and couple – not to mention the gorgeous sunset.

Most of these shots follow a VERY simple setup: one speedlight on a stand, shot through an umbrella at the couple. Another bare flash 6ft behind the couple, angled toward their elbows with very low power, to create a “rim” light.

The silhouette image in this set shows what the ambient looked like without flash (the black and white silhouette was shot with one flash: backlight only).”

Heather’s Photography Tip:

OFC (off-camera flash) is a very important tool to set you apart and give you the freedom to follow your creativity.

In order to start learning off-camera flash, you simply need (1) a flash and (2) something to tell it to fire – such as a trigger/receiver set.

(I personally like the Yongnuo 568EX II flash and the Yongnuo 622c trigger/receivers.)

Once you have your flash and receiver, I recommend the following procedure for putting your gear into practice:

  1. Set a doll or other object on the kitchen table
  2. Meter for the brightest part of the ambient- for example, the window, if there is one.
  3. Take a shot with the flash off. Your window will look great and your subject- the doll- will be way too dark.
  4. Take a guess at a flash power setting. Take the shot with flash.
  5. Check the histogram / back of the camera. Adjust the flash power to taste.
  6. Fire again.
  7. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.Repeat.Repeat.

These steps boil down to this basic mantra: “Expose for ambient in camera. Light the subject with the flash.”

While you shoot, keep in mind that the shutter speed effects the ambient but does not effect the flash, whereas the ISO and aperture will effect both the ambient and the flash.

So, for example, if the background is overexposed, drop your exposure in camera. This will mean raising the flash power to match the new settings so that the subject remains well lit.

Or, if your background is underexposed, let in more light by adjusting the shutter speed. This won’t effect the look of the flash at all.

Personally, I always suggest that you get yourself in the habit of using flash Manually (that is, choosing the settings yourself) rather than in ttl/ettl.

After a bit of practice, you’ll know intuitively the ballpark you want the settings in, and you’ll only need to tweak a bit.

Also remember that with most cameras, you must keep your shutter speed below 250 in order to use flash.


Because any faster, and the shutter is opening and closing far too fast to actually “see” the flash at all. And when that happens, you’ll often get a “bar” of black across your shot because the flash only has enough time to light a part of the room by the time the shutter closes.

So, set your camera to 200th of a second, leave it there, and try to use ISO and depth of field alone to manipulate the ambient light, at least while you’re learning.

With a basic knowledge of OCF, you can make a big jump to the next level of photography skill – and your potential clients will notice.

Hillsdale Michigan nighttime portraits sunset clouds
Hillsdale Michigan nighttime portraits backlit
Hillsdale Michigan nighttime portraits silhouette
Heather used a Canon 5dmrkiii with a Canon 24-70 2.8 lens, a Canon 85 1.8 lens, and a Canon 135 2.0 lens to capture these images.

Heather Kanillopoolos is a Lansing, Michigan Wedding photographer.

See more tips on Camera Settings, Flash Photography, and Lighting.


Need more help with using flash and speedlight? Check out this great tutorial on flash photography from Simple SLR!



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Published by Beth Teutschmann

A big fan of food, chaos, and all things fun, Beth is the owner of Starboard Editing, LLC - a photography post-production company focusing on anything from editing to blogging and SEO. When she's required to leave the confines of her dark room, she enjoys martial arts, eating, tattoos, cooking, ice cream, sillyness, eating, and traveling. You should probably say hi.

Join the Conversation


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.