Optics Mag is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Read more.

How to Use a Speedlight: 5 Tips and Tricks 

Last Updated on

Speedlight

The speedlight is an indispensable photography tool that can seriously step up your imagery. Its convenience and ability to help with poorly lit scenes make it a no-brainer to bring along. But how do you operate a speedlight? Is it difficult to use one? To answer that, we’ll show you five tips and tricks for using a speedlight flash. Keep reading to see what’s in store!

shutter camera divider 2

The 5 Tips to Use a Speedlight

1. Diffuse the Light

Speedlight

Image Credit: Kryuchka Yaroslav, Shutterstock

One of the biggest mistakes that beginner photographers make with speedlights is exclusively pointing the light directly at a subject. This can be the right choice for some circumstances, but sometimes flashes will be too bright, and the highlights will be completely blown out. To mitigate the harshness of the flash, professional photographers often point their light source toward walls and ceilings to soften this. You can also buy a diffuser attachment if you don’t have those surfaces in your surroundings.


2. Directly Light Your Subject

Contrary to what we just said, pointing the light straight at a subject can produce great results in many cases. The colors of your subject will get a boost in saturation, and the light will clearly make it stand out from the rest of the image. It’s also very easy to do and has a lot of benefits for still-life photography. However, it might not be the best idea for portraits with lighter skin tones but you can still give it a go and see what works best for you. 


3. Turn Off the Lights

Bulb off

Image Credit: Pixabay

Turn off the lights? That might sound absurd, but we aren’t talking about the speedlight itself. If you’re in a room or poorly lit environment, those lights could negatively affect the contrast of your image. If you want an ultra-isolated look, it might be a good option to turn off any other lights around so you can keep the background dark and the subject bright. That way, you’ll be able to keep viewers’ eyes on the prize!


4. Use High-Speed Sync

Having a high-speed sync set to your speedlight can be an essential variable for sports and action photography. It’ll enable your camera to focus much better because of the added light without losing out on shutter speed. This is perfect for anyone interested in capturing wildlife at night or sports events that allow for close-ups. 


5. Off-Camera Use

photographer adjusts the camera

Image Credit: DUO Studio, Shutterstock

Even though speedlights are made specifically to be used on cameras, you can still operate many of them on a separate tripod or by simply operating them handheld. A great way to take advantage of this is by using an intervalometer with a self-timer and positioning yourself to the side or rear (with the flash out of view) of a subject and pointing it from different angles. Then, you can go back and review the photos to see if you need to make any adjustments to your position and try again until you get the right shot. 

shutter camera divider 2Conclusion

Natural lighting doesn’t always provide the adequate amount of brightness or light intensity needed for some creative professionals. Inevitably, there will be times when you can use a speedlight flash accessory to compensate for this, which is a stellar idea for low-light and indoor shooting. Hopefully, these five tips and tricks gave you a better understanding of how you can control the lighting of your subject rather than let the lights control you!


Featured Image Credit: gorbelabda, Shutterstock

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.

Robert Sparks Profile Picture