Shooting with speedlights on-location is a great way to be mobile, creative and light! We all know how heavy camera equipment can be. Speedlights on-location allows you to have the perfect light on your subject with a dramatic sky!

I shot this photograph along the waterfront of downtown Sharjah, UAE during my Location Lighting Workshop at the Xposure International Photography Festival. I had a beautiful model and a beautiful golden light in the sky.

How do I get dramatic color in the sky?

You start with “the element you cannot control,” the yellow sky, in this case. I have to properly expose for the sky, even though the model will be dark. I’ll use my speedlights to fix this.

I set my camera on manual and then read the yellow part of the sky between the buildings to determine the exposure setting (ISO, aperture and shutter speed). I’ll underexpose it slightly, using my in-camera light meter. Why underexpose the sky slightly? It intensifies the color. If you want better color in your skies, underexpose the sky by between a half and a full stop. You can do this by increasing your shutter speed or stopping down your aperture (go to a higher number on the f-stop scale).

How do I light my subjects?

I lit the model using my Nissin Di700A flash and set it to TTL. The off-camera flash is triggered with a Nissin Air 1 Commander which comes with the flash. It’s that simple!

Your first photograph with flash is your test shot. Look at the back of your camera, if you feel you need more light on your subject you can adjust light output (+ and – buttons of your speedlight).

In this photo, I set my main light at 45 degrees to the right of the camera and fired my flash through a Rogue XL Flashbender. This gives me a soft light that I can control. My hairline light was a rogue grid was placed 45 degrees to the left of the camera, behind the model with a yellow color gel.

The above photograph was shot on a Nikon D810 with a 24-120 f/4 lens. I used ISO 80, f/5 and 1/125s.  All of the equipment except the light stands were moved in a Think Tank Photo Airport Security bag.

Location Lighting Workshop in Sharjah, UAE

Speedlights vs. natural light

The photograph with the speedlights has drama and bright colors.  Natural light can be beautiful, but flashes add punch to your images.

Upcoming location lighting workshops

I am teaching two location lighting workshops at the Xposure International Photography Festival, in Sharjah, UAE on November 22 and 24. I hope you can join us!

To see all upcoming workshops, please visit