Combining Speedlights & Studio Strobes for Portrait Lighting

If you’ve ever attempted to get your speedlights working with studio strobes, chances are you you encountered some problems along the way. One of the biggest problemsis getting both lights to sync without the speedlights preflash triggering the strobe too early. In the following video, Mark Wallace explains what causes this and offers up a couple simple solutions to get you your lights to work in unison:

The first step in getting your lights working is to understand how they communicate. When you’re using a trigger with your speedlight, the speedlight actually fires twice. The first flash is called the preflash and is used by your camera to gauge the proper exposure. This is commonly referred to as through the lens metering, or TTL. The second flash is the light that is used during exposure. The preflash and flash happen very quickly which means that you may not be able to notice them with the naked eye.

speedlight photography

The reason you may see your strobe fire but not appear in your photograph is because the strobe will most likely have fired at the same time as the speedlights preflash, when it needed to fire in conjunction with the speedlights second flash. There are a couple ways to fix this. First, you can try setting the trigger to fire the strobe manually. This will work in some instances; however, it is still hit or miss. If you plan on moving around often, the chances of the infrared beam making it to the strobe is greatly reduced.

Perhaps the simplest solution to the issue is to ditch the infrared triggers altogether and use radio triggers instead. This will greatly expand your range of movement in addition to getting perfectly synced light bursts.

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