Night Shot Using Simple OCF

December 9, 2015

12113357_10153661348618186_2152877799252105851_oIn a previous post about shooting for albums sales, I mentioned:

“The last little thing I will add is if they are not doing a formal “send off” or exit, I like to do one last photo with them as a couple before the night is over. That way there is an appropriate photo to end an album with. Usually, for me, this photo is a cool OCF shot in front of their venue. Or something of the sort. It just seems to be a good way to end the story their album will tell.”

There were a couple questions on how to do this if you are not set up with strobes and such. Funny enough, I don’t use strobes myself. I don’t drag a whole lot of lighting gear with me to sessions and weddings. I’m a more simplistic kind of girl. I just use my speed light. Or even more simply (depending on the lighting situation), I will use a video light. I use one similar to the one shown HERE. In the situations the video light isn’t strong enough and the speed light is necessary, here’s a quick and easy rundown on how I do this.

**Sidenote** I use Nikon so I don’t need to use triggers. Nikons have built-in infrared (IFR) features that communicate between your speed light and camera. If you use Canon, Sony, etc you may need to incorporate triggers and review the instructions on how to use them properly.

FIRST, you need to set your camera up for triggering your flash. For the Nikon group using your IFR speed light , you need to make sure your camera is set to commander mode just as you would when using triggers. This will be found in your Bracketing/flash menu. Select the “Flash control for built-in flash” option. Then select CMD for commander mode. Within that menu you will also want to set up a group to TTL and choose the channel you want your flash to correspond with. I just have mine set to Group A, Channel 1. Then you will want to set your speed light to remote mode and correspond your Group and Channel within its menu. For me, this would be Group A, Channel 1.

This tends to be the hardest part, but once you have this set in your menus it literally takes two seconds in the future to get ready for the shot.

SECOND, I expose for my background. You will expose it to how you want it to look after you incorporate lighting your subjects. Don’t worry about them just yet. The look you want and the effect you desire is completely up to you. The first image above, I had a faster shutter speed to really darken the sky and bring out the drama in the clouds. The images below I had a slower shutter speed to help brighten the barn.

OCF Tutorial

THIRD, I simply take the photo.  For Nikon users, be sure to open your pop-up flash before taking the photo. The small flash the pop up puts off is what triggers your IFR to communicate.  So make sure there is a good line of sight between the two. Sometimes if you are using an assistant their fingers can cover the sensor on the speed light. Just have them watch for that. (I didn’t have to worry about that here with my lovely second shooter Stacey Petersen)

Wedding Photography


If the light on the subject was too strong or not strong enough, there are a couple ways to fix this. You can  change the mm length on your flash to brighten or dim the flash. Or you can also simply bring your stand or assistant holding the flash closer or have them set back farther from the subjects. But the first thing I’ll typically do is I simply change my flash compensation with the flash mode button. Hold this button down and scroll left or right with your command dial. It is typically found on the front of your camera. The flash mode button will look like this:


There is no real wrong or right way to go about this whole process. But once you have it where you want, and how to work for you, it’s time to make some beautiful and dynamic images! And like I mentioned before, once you have your camera settings set up, it’s super quick and easy to capture! Just turn your speed light to remote, expose, pop-up, shoot!

Utah Wedding Photographers

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1 Comment

  • Reply Black Lamb Photography December 9, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    Thanks for the OCF tip. I will try this out.

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