Cheap and powerful off camera flashes

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art, Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel, Neewer T850,

I had a lot of fun capturing the brand new Chick-fil-A food truck that is being tested in Athens, Georgia. It was parked in the restaurant parking lot to show to their customers and hoping they will book the truck for an event.

This shot was taken at sunset with the sunsetting behind the truck. To show the truck I put one flash on the side laying on top of some bushes to light up the side of the truck.

My assistant was pointing the second flash on the front of the truck just off to the camera’s left.

I love using the Neewer T850 with the radio remote. I can control the power output from the radio remote. I just set each flash to a different channel and then I can vary the power from the camera. No need to walk over to the flash to make a change.

Now I have the more expensive Nikon SB-900 but have found it difficult to use in manual mode and change the power from the camera of several flashes. Also shooting in TTL if you just barely move the camera it can change the flash and how it puts out light. Having the lights set to a power gives you more consistent exposures than TTL.

How to give light to the darkness with volunteers working with NGOs

Nikon D5, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 400, ƒ/8, 1/100–Neewer TT850, Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel transmitter [Exposure Bias: -4/6 EV]

This morning I was shooting volunteers that were pulling nails out of 2’x4’s. We started early because is was actually sprinkling and a down pour was on it’s way. This was a nasty overcast day.

Now when people bend over and have on ball caps well this is the worst possible situation I can think of shooting where the natural light is actually working against you.

This morning I avoided getting this type of photo that I had at a football game. See how you cannot see their faces. The light is from above and when they are facing down you have total black under those helmets just like you have under the visor of a baseball cap.

My assistant took one of the Neewer TT850 flashes and I had the transmitter which controls the power on my camera. Sometimes I was at 1/8 power and other times only needed about 1/64 power to fill in those shadows of the people working.

My camera is pretty much on the ground so I can see their faces and so is the flash. I asked the assistant to try and stay 45º to 90º from me to create a triangle. I am one corner the subject is another and the flash is the 3rd corner of the triangle.

I am also slightly under exposing from 1/3 to 2/3 and even up to -1 stop under. The flash is kicking in and becomes the main light on the faces.

Nikon D5, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 180, ƒ/8, 1/100–Neewer TT850, Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel transmitter [Exposure Bias: -4/6 EV]

Had I used on camera flash I would have gotten much better results than without a flash, but by getting the flash off the camera I create more modeling of the skin and creating depth.

Just remember to always have a flash in case you need to do something similar to help the audience connect with the subject.

When to use flash and not to use flash

Nikon D4, 28-300mm, ISO 160, ƒ/5, 1/250–off-camera flash using the Neewer TT850 flash & Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger

Available Light

I love to use available light–that is any light that is available to use. Here I was shooting Ubaldo demonstrating how to rope a calf. Ubaldo teaches this during the family missions team trip each year to the kids.

Nikon D4, 28-300mm, ISO 250, ƒ/5.3, 1/250

When I first started shooting I noticed very quickly that Ubaldo’s skin was just dark enough that with the light calf he was getting lost in the photos. Also as you can see in this photo that I didn’t use the flash your eye goes to the background more than to Ubaldo and the calf, which was where I wanted you to focus.

Compare that to the first photo and this photo.

Nikon D4, 28-300mm, ISO 200, ƒ/5, 1/250–off-camera flash using the Neewer TT850 flash & Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger

I always prefer not using a flash if the light is working for me. However, if I can improve the photo and draw you in using the flash I will use it.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 450, ƒ/14, 1/250–off-camera flash using the Neewer TT850 flash & Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger

When photographing Francisca Padilla, the gardner, I wanted to show that she was in the Agalta Valley. I wanted you to see the mountains. Well the problem is where she needed to stand she was backlit.  I used the off camera flash being held by a person about 45º to my left and the subject’s right. This way I was able to slightly underexpose the scene which helped the mountains pop.

Nikon D4, 28-300mm, ISO 4500, ƒ/6.3, 1/250

For the photo of the teacher I chose to not use a flash. There was large window on my left and smaller strip of windows on my right as well as overhead lights.

Nikon D4, 28-300mm, ISO 9000, ƒ/6.3, 1/250

The photo of the girl at her desk is the same classroom as the teacher above. In my opinion I liked the light as it was and didn’t add the flash.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 400, ƒ/4.5, 1/100—Off camera fill-flash using the Nikon SB-900 & SB800.  The Flash is on the Pocketwizard TT5 and being triggered by the Mini TT1 on the Camera with the AC3 to control the output of the flash.

When I was photographing this scene without flash the outside was blown out and the people were heavily backlit. I added the flashes to help light the room up and balance it to the outside light. I wanted the audience to see the location of the school.

When do you use the flash?

You have to know in each situation what you are trying to capture and why? Will the flash help you tell the story?

If you are looking for the simple formula or that always use the flash kind of an answer you will not hear that from me.

Mastering photography isn’t just learning exposure, lighting and composition. Mastering photography is mastering the craft so you can control it to help the camera capture your vision.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 500, ƒ/8, 1/500

Parting Shot–Moonrise over Rancho el Paraíso located in the Agalta Valley of Honduras.

Honduran Dentist prefers education to pulling teeth

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/16, 1/125, -1.0 EV—Off Camera Neewer TT850 using the Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel to control the flash

Dr. Natalia Velásquez Alonzo is a dentist in the rural Agalta Valley of Honduras. Here she is at her main office at Rancho el Paraíso of Honduras Outreach.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 800, ƒ/7.1, 1/500

I went with her and the rest of the mobile medical team to a small village El Pedrero two hours north of the ranch on these dirt roads. I felt like a bobble head bouncing around for those two hours. About half way there the electricity to the area stopped.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 100, ƒ/3.5, 1/1000

When HOI started going to this community they stopped before they crossed the river and would cross over in canoes. Today they have a bridge to get to the village. When they first started going this was what most of the village people lived in.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 8000, ƒ/5.6, 1/250

The inside of their houses were dirt floors and walls they let the wind and rain through.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 500, ƒ/3.8, 1/100

Dr. Natalia Alonzo worked for the government as a dentist before coming to HOI some five months ago. She went into the schools and taught as she is doing now for HOI.  Here she is teaching the students about dental hygiene in El Pedrero. She prefers doing this as to having to pull teeth.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 1000, ƒ/8, 1/250

Many of the government dentists do not have enough supplies and so many of the patients have many teeth pulled with just one shot or none at all. Dr. Alonzo really likes working with HOI where she has enough supplies to use what would be normal procedures to those in the United States due to the giving that supports the medical team.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 100, ƒ/5, 1/1250

This is the medical clinic in the village El Pedrero. The Toyota Land Cruiser is their mobile medical truck. North Point ministries helped with other groups to buy this vehicle through their “Be Rich” campaign. The idea started at North Point Ministries five years ago and caught on quickly. The message from the pulpit was very simple–you have it, they don’t.

Teams are going regularly from the US to help transform Honduras through HOI. The work they have done over the past twenty five years has gotten the attention of the government. Next month the President Juan Orlando Hernández and First Lady Ana García Carías of Honduras are coming to Atlanta to present HOI with an award for outstanding service to their country.

Underexpose a scene and flash just the subject

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 11400, ƒ/10, 1/100—off-camera flash using the Neewer TT850 flash & Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger with flash at 1/128 Power

You want your photos to pop, then light the subject but not everything else in your photo.

Where do you put the flash? Off camera and create a triangle between you the flash and the subject.

I continue to tell my assistants to just create a triangle and point the flash at the subjects face.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 1800, ƒ/14, 1/100—off-camera flash using the Neewer TT850 flash & Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger with flash at 1/8 Power

I just shoot the photo and then look at the LCD on the camera. Couple things I am looking for in the photo.

I want to be sure my flash isn’t overpowering and washing out the skin tones. I do this by seeing the photo and checking the histogram. Here is the histogram for the photo above.

I am watching my shutter speed with the Neewer TT850 since it must sync at 1/250 or slower. I am also trying to be sure the background is not too dark or light.

I typically can just set the camera to -1/3 to up to -1 stop underexposed and then just watch the flash setting on the camera.

The radio remote will change the setting on the flash as long as they are on the same channel. Here the flash is set to 1/32 power. You can adjust the power from 1/128th to full power in 1/3 stop increments. Basically a lot of control.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 1600, ƒ/14, 1/100—off-camera flash using the Neewer TT850 flash & Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger with flash at 1/8 Power

I have found the when I shoot on the Nikon TTL system I cannot control the flash in manual mode. So the flash is very inconsistent and depends on the scene. I was dialing it up or down by 3 stops, but now with the manual setting on the Neewer system I actually have more control.

I am giving up the high speed sync, but that is only necessary some of the time. Most of the time I prefer manual mode where I am in control.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 110, ƒ/7.1, 1/100—off-camera flash using the Neewer TT850 flash & Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger with flash at 1/4 Power

I like using the light to direct the audience to what I think is most important in the scene. Available light tends to often light everything equally. I don’t like those type of photos.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 100, ƒ/11, 1/160—off-camera flash using the Neewer TT850 flash & Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger with flash at 1/32 Power

See the photo above with the flash almost not even lighting the people. I then turn the power up to full and look at the difference.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 1800, ƒ/14, 1/100—off-camera flash using the Neewer TT850 flash & Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger with flash at Full Power

I like the flash popping a subject out from the scene.

I also used the MagMod system to put a 1/2 CTO gel in front of the flash for all the photos.

Silhouette AND Reveal @ The College Football Hall of Fame Grand Opening

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/200

Today I covered the Grand Opening of the College Football Hall of Fame downtown in Atlanta Georgia. Here are a couple photos from today.

To me there is a HUGE difference between this photo above and the one below. Don’t you agree?

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/200—off-camera flash using the Neewer TT850 flash & Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger with flash at Full Power

I think your eyes go to the cheerleaders faces a lot more with the flash than in the top photo where I believe the background draws your eyes first.

I like keeping my flash off-camera all that I can and my assistant is holding the flash off to my left and the Cheerleaders right.

Here are more examples of using the same technique. The only thing I am watching is keeping my shutter speed sync below 1/250 since I am using the Neewer flash, but can shoot 600 full power shots on one fully charged battery. I carried a second battery and barely had to use it.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 100, ƒ/11, 1/200—off-camera flash using the Neewer TT850 flash & Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger with flash at Full Power

Chick-fil-A is the major sponsor of the College Football Hall of Fame and were there giving out samples of their new grilled nuggets. It took me a while to find someone with a full tray, because they were going so fast at the event.

Here I wanted to capture them giving them out and the CFHOF behind them.
Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 100, ƒ/11, 1/200—off-camera flash using the Neewer TT850 flash & Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger with flash at Full Power
Both the Georgia Tech cheerleaders and the lady sampling the grilled nuggets were in the shade and I “Revealed” them with the flash or they would have been a “Silhouette.”
Nikon D4, 28-300mm, ISO 125, ƒ/8, 1/200—off-camera flash using the Neewer TT850 flash & Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger with flash at Full Power
The stage where speakers like Bill Curry and Mayor Kasim Reed spoke was split lighting their faces. One side in direct sunlight and the other shade. Using the same small hot shoe flash I had my assistant stand straight in front of them and basically giving them a classic fill light.
Nikon D4, 28-300mm, ISO 160, ƒ/8, 1/200—off-camera flash using the Neewer TT850 flash & Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger with flash at Full Power
For my departing shot of the day I saw the ESPN College Game Day bus, but to show the College Football Hall of Fame behind it was difficult the side of the bus was in shade, but the CFHOF was in direct sunlight. I just put the flash on the ground near the bus [I let my assistant go just before I saw this] and on full power I was able to light up the Sports Anchors of the show on the side of the bus. A week from today they will be transmitting inside the CFHOF during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game between Alabama and West Virginia.
Why did I use flash so much today? I knew there were be a LOT of media there. My client will be able to see their coverage as well as mine. 
Like the game of football I needed to win the quality coverage contest and cannot afford to ever have others out do my coverage. I can afford for them to match it, but I can’t afford other media to show a better coverage and I continue to be hired by clients.

How to create photos that are spectacular!!

Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.7, 1/75 [Neewer TT850 on light stand bouncing. The Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger to fire the off-camera flash and control the power from the camera.]

Those are spectacular!!!  Much nicer to have the lighting off the camera’s direct line of sight.
email from a parent
I photographed my daughter’s orchestra awards banquet and while there a guy came up and started talking to me and asking questions. I could tell from all his camera gear he was either a pro as well or just a hobbyist. He wanted to know where my photos would be accessible. He had been taking photos for a few years since his child was a senior in the orchestra. My daughter is just a freshman.
I gave him my business card and he wrote sending me a link to his photos. Since I knew he was wanting to share I sent him the link that I had also given to the orchestra teacher to use for the newsletters and other things to help out the program.
That is when I got the email with the quote above “Those are spectacular!!!  Much nicer to have the lighting off the camera’s direct line of sight.”
Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ6.4, 1/30 [Neewer TT850 on light stand in back of room pointed straight toward the front of the room. The Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger to fire the off-camera flash and control the power from the camera.]
I think the father noticed my flash on a light stand because my Fuji X-E2 didn’t look pro as compared to his large DSLR and 70-200mm ƒ/2.8.
His wife later in the evening said, since you do this professionally you can answer a question. She then pulled up a photo where you could see the reflection of her on camera flash in the glasses of people. She wanted to know how to get rid of the reflection.
Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/6.4, 1/40 [Neewer TT850 on light stand in back of room pointed straight toward the front of the room. The Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger to fire the off-camera flash and control the power from the camera.]
I talked to her about how your flash works like you playing billiards/pool. By getting the flash further from the lens you avoid the problem with reflections in the glasses.
This is the Neewer TT850 on light stand and the Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger on the Fuji X-E2]
This flash system isn’t TTL and therefore controlling the exposure is done a few ways.
  • Flash Power—How bright the flash is will influence if the picture is over, under or properly exposed. You can control the Neewer flash from 1/128 to full power in 1/3 stop increments.
  • ƒ-stop/Aperture—You control how much of the light is coming into your camera by the camera iris called the aperture. These are fractions. The focal length of the lens over how wide the opening of the lens is. 
  • Flash Distance to Subject—The closer you put the flash to the subject the brighter the subject and the further away you put is the darker it gets. This is assuming your Flash Power and ƒ-stop are constant.
When the radio is on the same channel as the flash you can then send the signal to change the power settings of the flash. 
I put the flash off to the side of the room or at the back of the room. How do I determine where to put the flash in relation to the camera? I want the FLASH—CAMERA—SUBJECT to form a triangle. Usually the flash is between 45º to 90º most of the time.
What impressed the parent wasn’t my cameras or really my flash—he had as good of gear if not better than what I had, but the thing is his flash was on his camera and that is what made my pictures spectacular. How do I know this—he said so.