Cherelle small flash

A few months ago I started teaching the small flash workshop.
I did use small flash before this of course but somehow never taught a workshop about it, until I talked a bit with Joe McNally who pointed out to me that there was a lot of interest for small flash workshops in a more technical approach, and because I’m a strong believer in understanding what’s going on when you shoot I decided to write a workshop that does not only tell you about ETTL and show some light setups, but a workshop that tells you where ETTL goes wrong and how you can solve this, but also how to shoot (and meter) for full manual mode, and of course how to use creative light setups, groups, ratios etc.

Last week it was time for Cherelle to be my model for the small flash workshop.
In this blog post some more information about the techniques, gear and of course some of my favorite shots from that day.


Understanding light manipulation
One of the first things I teach is of course what ETTL does and where it goes wrong, but right after that we move into manipulating the light with very simple tools. Often people still think that will small flash it’s very hard (or impossible) to get similar results as with the big flash, and nothing is less true, actually due to the fact that you can move the small flash units around very easily you actually have a lot more control over the end result. By moving for example the strobe closer or further away from a translucent reflector you can really control the quality of light with the same light fall off (inverse square law stays the same, because the translucent reflector doesn’t move).

For the first “real” setup I used the Rogue flash bender and showed the differences between the standard version and the new flash bender soft box attachments, it goes without saying that I love the flash bender products and with good reason, every workshop or demo where I show them people are more than enthusiastic about them and also want to add them to their kit. Seeing the fact that all the shots in this workshop are done this time with the flash bender or the rogue grid set shows how flexible they are indeed. And as you can see a little bit of diffusion goes a long way.

Going darker
For the next setup I choose a problem that many photographers struggle with, having limited space and still wanting to do some very moody shots. In this setup our model Cherelle was almost standing with her back against the wall, and thanks to the flagging quality of the flash bender it’s very easy to control the light, as you can see here you can get a very nice light effect on the wall without the whole wall being lit, the fun thing is that the model is actually hit with the same strobe. Later on we added one extra strobe with flash bender to give a small accent light.

By turning the model to the other side you can play with the light even more.

The grid set
One other accessory I love is the grid set. It’s a relatively small unit delivered with two grids, which due to the fact you can connect the two together gives you effective 3 different thicknesses. The following shots where done with the smaller grid inside the unit from a small distance. By using the side of the light you can get a very nice light fall off on the wall (do remember to crop correctly on the side, other wise it’s very obvious the model is not standing in a hotspot but to the side of it and the effect is gone)

And of course by changing the angles you can change the total look of the setup.

Also the first image of the blogpost was done this way with this setup.


The workshop
Everything I teach a workshop I will do the material differently, meaning that this write up is not necessary the way the next small flash workshop will be. Every workshop I change the practice part because that keeps the workshops interesting to visit several/many times. If you also want to visit a workshop check out the workshop site at for English visitors it’s possible to be taught in English during the 1:1 workshop. I will also be showing some of these techniques and theory during my brand new seminars during Photoshop World in Washington DC in March.


Check the gear guide on this blog for links about the flash benders, and trust me, you will love them.



10 replies
  1. Leo Koach
    Leo Koach says:

    So… how low can you go… how low can you go… how low can you go. LOL

    nice show off photos as always 🙂 makes us feel bad, and work harder LOL

  2. Morten Josephson
    Morten Josephson says:

    I can’t see the pictures???

    When i click on the place where the pictures is supposed to be, i get “The requested URL was not found on this server.”

    I have tried with Safari and Firefox.

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