Wireless Flash Photography At Night

Wireless flash photography is one of my favorite photography techniques. The theory behind it has always intrigued me. It is what happens to exposure when you introduce flash lighting into the mix.

As you can see by the photo of my friend Gevon, above, he has light shining on him, but the background is still fairly clear.

There is a reason for this…

The photo above is of my friend Khurt.

What happens, to the exposure is so much fun. Check this out… Typically your aperture is used to adjust the light transmitting through the lens, and at the same time, shifting the depth of field. The shutter speed controls the speed that the shutter opens and closes, thus letting less or more light to touch the film or sensor. When using a flash, like the LumoPro LP 160, aperture and shutter speeds have yet another function.

The photo above is of Amanda, who I met minutes before taking this photograph.

The aperture will additionally control the exposure of the flash hitting the subject. The shutter speed will additionally control the exposure of the ambient light in the scene. So as you can see in these examples, having control over the exposures of both light sources, can provide the ability to have a result where both the subject and background are clearly visible. This does something else, which is a lot of fun. If your camera has the ability to photograph with a flash at speeds faster than 1/250 (the average is 1/60) then you can turn daylight into night.

The photo above is of Boris, who I met earlier in the day.

For these photographs, I was using the Leica M9, a PocketWizard to trigger the LumoPro flash wirelessly and a shutter speed of 1/40. By keeping the shutter speed around there, the subjects were still enough and the background let enough ambient light in. The apertures were between f/2 and f/4 for each. I had to adjust depending on where the subjects were standing and the tone of their skin.

If you have never tried this I highly recommend it.  Please give it a try, whether your flash is on camera or off (wireless triggers are expensive, so if you cannot afford one I understand).  Then please come back here and share a link to a photograph showing your use of exposure with flash photography.  Create something dramatic.

Lastly, if you want to learn more about wireless flash photography, I highly recommend checking out the websites of David Hobby and my friend Don Giannatti.

Thanks for reading and happy shooting,


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Thanks Scott. This is the kind of info I know, but haven’t internalized to the extent that I don’t have to think about it so it’s good to read occasional reminders of how it works.

    Could you let us know roughly how far you had the light from the subjects, and whether there was any modifiers on it? Thanks.

    1. I had the flash being held about 6 or 7 feet from the subjects. The only modifier that was on the flash was the wide angle diffuser, which doesn’t do much.

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