October 8th, 2013
I get questions from people getting started in real estate photography about flash equipment that indicate that one of the things not very well understood is that the best way to use flash for real estate is to use flashes in manual mode. As usual, refer to the Interior Lighting With Multiple Strobes post for a summary of the whole manual flash process and how to do it.
Here is a list of implications of using manual flash for real estate photography:
- Using what you have: You may already have some flashes like Canon 580 EXs, or Nikon SB-600s etc. These can be used in manual mode, and SB-700, SB-800, SB-900 and SB910’s can even be triggered optically. The SB-600 cannot.
- No E-TTL or CLS: When I say use flashes in manual mode, I mean don’t put them in E-TTL mode (Canon) or CLS mode (Nikon). As Scott Hargis says, you want to NOT let your camera and flashes do any “thinking”. You want to do ALL the thinking.
- Expanding your gear: If you are expanding the number of flashes you have ( you can get by with 1 or 2 but you ultimately you need 3 or 4 or more to shoot all situations) you’ll want to purchase inexpensive manual flashes like Yn-560-II or -III rather than 580 Ex’s or SB-600s because they cost so much less.
- Use DSLR in Manual: Probably the biggest implication of using manual flashes is you need to put your DSLR in manual exposure mode and learn how to do the exposure thinking. The big advantage is using manual exposure lets you be in complete control over how bright the windows or other bright objects are in the finished photo with out masking or blending.
This may all sound technical and involved, but it’s not! The huge payoff of learning to use manual off-camera flash is your time! You almost eliminate your post processing time. I have tried no lighting, HDR, Exposure Fusion, Canon E-TTL but trust me, Manual off-camera flash is the fastest and most effective technique I seen.