Slaves

Except for those single dramatic light side/dark side high-contrast photographs, the best kind of flash illumination is created by simultaneously firing two or more strobelights, thus providing light from multiple sources. This helps reduce harsh shadows, provides more even illumination, covers a greater area, and can be used to create interesting effects. The best, easiest way to network those strobelights together is to use one or more inexpensive slave units or slave strobelights. Slaves can direct light onto the side or top of the subject, more evenly illuminate a group of people, or provide enough light to properly expose a subject positioned beyond the normal range of the camera's built-in flash.

A slave (or remote) unit is a small photoelectric eye ($10—$25) that can be set almost anywhere, and which instantly triggers any attached strobelight (not included in the price) when it detects the camera's built-in flash or external strobelight flash. A slave light ($20-$100) is a battery-powered strobelight

Figure 9-6: On the left is a "dumb" hot shoe (from a Fujifilm FinePix S7000). Notice the single contact (the metal circle in the middle) that the camera uses to trigger the flash. On the right is an intelligent hot shoe for a TTL flash (on a Nikon D70). Intelligent hot shoes have several contacts (the smaller circles) in addition to the large trigger contact. These extra points of contact provide for the two-way communications between the intelligence in the camera and that in the TTL flash.

Figure 9-6: On the left is a "dumb" hot shoe (from a Fujifilm FinePix S7000). Notice the single contact (the metal circle in the middle) that the camera uses to trigger the flash. On the right is an intelligent hot shoe for a TTL flash (on a Nikon D70). Intelligent hot shoes have several contacts (the smaller circles) in addition to the large trigger contact. These extra points of contact provide for the two-way communications between the intelligence in the camera and that in the TTL flash.

with a built-in photoelectric eye that does the same thing. The slave unit often has a suction cup or tiny self-contained stand, for attaching to a wall to table, while the slave light is usually positioned with a minipod or light stand.

Using slaves with a digital camera is relatively easy Place them either facing the subject or tilted towards the background, making certain that the photoelectric eyes are pointed directly at the camera so they can react when the flash is triggered. Depending upon the model, the effective range for slaves is 20 to 60'. Make certain that they are switched on and that the strobelights are charged. Then take the shot. Switch the camera to playback mode and review your pictures to see it worked, or if you need to make any corrections to exposure or the light positions.

Generally, you'll have three options for adjusting a slave's position. Move it closer to the surface it's illuminating if you need more light; farther away, if you need to reduce the light; and/or alter the angle of its light.

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