Today I'm going to share about my off-camera flash (OCF) set-up and how I determine my settings at a reception. You absolutely must read this post first otherwise this one won't make sense.

Let me say at this point that I'm definitely not the expert on every piece of equipment relating to OCF. My knowledge was gleaned from attending Zack Arias's One Light Workshop. In it, Zack shared a lot of different equipment options, and also talked mostly about how to apply the various set-ups to portrait work. I took the knowledge I gleaned from his workshop and figured out which set-up would work best for wedding receptions and that is what I'm going to share with you today -- MY set-up. Unfortunately Zack no longer teaches the One Light Workshop and the DVDs are no longer sold, otherwise I would highly recommend them for more knowledge on this subject.

K - Let's DO it!

The equipment I use:
2 Canon 600EX-RT Speedlites -- These units are a God-send!! The "RT" stands for radio transmission which is built into these units, so you don't need pocket wizards or any other type of device. Everything they need to communicate with one another is built right in.
MagMod Bounce
2 Battery Packs
Light Stand with umbrella bracket and cold shoe

I set up the light-stand with one of the speedlites on it and attach a battery pack to it. The battery packs are vital if you want your flashes to recycle quickly. Without them, they won't fire every time you push the shutter. I put the other speedlite on my camera pointed straight up with the MagBounce on it. I set the light-stand 10-15' off the dance floor and point the speedlite at a 90 degree angle right at it. I try to find a place in the room where I can put the light stand that is out of the way and where I can easily pivot it to be equidistant from the different points of action - toasts, dancing and cake-cutting.
I put my off-camera flash on manual mode and set it to 1/64 or 1/128 power (less power if the light stand must be closer to the action) and my on-camera flash on ETTL to use as fill. I then play with my ISO and aperture to get the correct exposure. I usually start at an ISO of 320 and an aperture of 4.5. I take a test shot of an assistant or someone walking across the dance floor and look at my LCD screen to see if I need to make any adjustments from there. If I need more light, I generally either increase my ISO or open up my aperture. If I need less light I decrease my ISO or close down my aperture. Those two variables are the easiest to change on the fly. Since shutter speed only affects the exposure of the ambient light I either set it to 1/100 if the house lights are up or slow it down to 1/15 when the lights are down.

Here's an example of a time when my light stand needed to be closer to the action. I'm guessing the OCF power was set to 1/128 here:
In this example, the light stand was much further away and was possibly set at 1/32:
Wow - my head hurts - how about you guys?

Even though this sounds like a lot to set-up, the amazing thing is that once you have your settings, you rarely need to adjust them the rest of the night. As long as your light stand is far enough from the dance floor that you don't have different exposures at one end of it than at the other (see this post on flash-to-subject distance) the only thing you should need to pay attention to is changing your shutter speed when the house lights go up or down. Pretty awesome!

If you found this post helpful, and are interested in learning more, click here to opt-in for my free video series -- 6 Hacks to Eliminate Boring Low-Light Photos and Get You Creating Reception Images you LOVE! In it I share my best 6 tips for shooting with flash. If you are intimidated by flash and wanting to conquer it once and for all, this is a great place to start!
learn flash for wedding receptions
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