I purchased a Canon Speedlight 430ex specifically for the photo shoot I did recently. It performed perfectly. The swivel head allowed me to bounce the flash off the ceiling when holding the camera horizontally or vertically. One misconception I had about this flash was how it’s wireless mode works. When reading the reviews, I was under the impression that a Canon EOS camera could communicate to the flash when it was off the camera. That would allow you to position the flash remotely, and still be able to trigger the flash from the camera. I was slightly disappointed to learn that it’s not the camera that communicates to the flash, but instead it’s the Speedlight flash that can wirelessly communicate with other Speedlight flashes. So in order to make this work you need not just one Speedlight, but two. Anyway, now that the pressure is off, and this photo shoot is behind me (planning another for the end of the month) I took some time today to experiment with the bounce flash, and some other strobes I had.
I’ve been wanting to capture this image for some time. It’s nothing award winning, but I like how the mirror is reflects the photos on the wall along the staircase. The angle of the wall holding the mirror, and the angle of the reflection in the mirror seem to grab my attention, but it might just be me.
The picture below was one of the first attempts. I used the new Speedlight and a large white sheet of card stock paper to reflect the flash onto the wall with the mirror. That seemed to come close to what I wanted. The problem was with the reflection of the pictures on the staircase wall.
The part of the image that I wanted to get the focus was under exposed. In the end, I was able to get the final product by using the Speedlight flash to trigger a second flash that was position on the second floor, and held by my son / assistant. Here’s what I used.
(That handsome young man, and that ravishing young lady in the photos on the table are yours truly, and my beautiful wife on our wedding day, many years ago. I’ve kept up with her in age, over the years, but as the years pass, I look that much older, while she manages to become more beautiful. She’s got me beat there, hands down.)
Back to the equipment: A Speedlight 430 mounted to my camera.
And an old Vivitar 283 flash.
This is the very first flash I ever owned. I purchased it used on Ebay, and it has served me well for a very long time. Just recently, the mounting foot broke. It’s still usable, but the damage makes it fit loosely on the camera. With the Speedlight as my primary flash, that shouldn’t be a problem very often. I may still try to repair it with some epoxy, or replace the mounting foot one day.
The last item I used was a remote flash trigger.
That clear box on the end of the flash is the trigger. I purchased two of these on Ebay at the same time I purchased this Vivitar flash. I didn’t have any specific need at the time, but thought they could come in handy one day. I actually used one of these on the Charity Photo Shoot. It enables you to trigger the flash it’s attached to, when it senses that another flash has gone off. As long as the sensor can detect another flash, it will trigger the flash it’s attached to.
In order to get the shot the way I wanted I took the picture just the way I did above, but this time I had my son position the Vivitar flash with the trigger on the second floor, and had him aim the flash towards the pictures on the staircase. I also had him hold a piece of copy paper in front of the flash to help diffuse the light some. I had never tested the range of the remote trigger before, and I was a bit concerned that the flash from the Speedlight wouldn’t be enough to trigger the Vivitar flash. But after a few attempts, we were able to get pretty close to what I was looking for.
The versatility of the Speedlight flash opens up a world of possibilities. I can see now why some people have several of them. I could have accomplished the same thing with a lot less effort, if I had a second Speedlight. Having the remote flash trigger and the Vivitar flash are a poor mans substitute, but it proves that you can accomplish a lot on a budget with a bit of trial an error and some research. I will likely get a second Speedlight some day, but it’s good to know that I can achieve some of the same effects with my old equipment a bit of effort.