Brian's Photo Blog — Article 395
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Remote Wireless Flash Test #1
Sunday 22 March 2015   —   Category: Equipment
A month after I pur­chased my beloved Olym­pus OM-D E-M5 camera in the sum­mer of 2012, I also bought an Olympus FL-600R wire­less flash. Since then, I am ashamed to admit, it has sat in my Pelican case and I have almost totally neglected it. Sad, but true.

I suppose I bought it be­cause it seemed good to have flash ca­pa­bil­i­ty, al­though I hardly ever take pictures with a flash. In addition, I was strongly influenced by Rob­in Wong of Kuala Lumpur, Ma­lay­sia, one of my favorite pho­tog­ra­phers. When I saw some of his remote-​flash macro work, like the image to the left, I was astonished, envious, and motivated, all at the same time!
Yet I supposed I was not motivated enough, because my flash has been gathering dust for the past two and a half years. Until I dusted it off last month in order to take some remote wireless flash test shots.

The image to the upper-right shows the FL-600R unit, with the flash head tilted up, and the stand attached to the bottom. Of course, without the stand, the flash can attach to the hot shoe of my camera. But that kind of lighting, straight from the camera to the subject being photographed, often results in a flat, boring image.

I really got a kick in the pants last month when I discovered the Olympus Magazine app for iOS. In addition, the magazine can also be view on their Web site.

On page 9 of the February 2015 issue, I saw the title “Remote Triggering: Off-Camera Flash” — with a short description and a link to the following video (which you can also see here on Vimeo.) In the video, renowned British photographer John Nassari gives a short (less than two minute) tutorial and demonstration of off-camera flash with Olympus equipment.
Here again is the resulting photo from John’s demonstration in the video. As you can see, the lighting is much more interesting and dramatic than it would have been had the flash been sitting on top of the camera.
As the video makes clear, and as I found out for myself, using Olympus remote wireless flash technology is really easy, and the results exceeded my expectations.

Many of Olympus’ cameras and flashes come with their RC Data Transfer remote wireless flash technology built-in. All it takes to make use of this capability is to change one setting on the camera and one setting on the flash, as John demonstrated in the above video.

As you also saw in the video, the remote flash is triggered by the small flash that comes with the camera. In my case, that’s the Olympus FL-LM2, shown in the image to the left.

Before we move on, I also want to bring to your attention an excellent little article Olympus has written about wireless remote flash photography. Well, enough theory! Let’s take a look at the test photos I took in various rooms of my house one dark and stormy night.

As is the case in all of my articles, you can click on any of the photos below to see a larger version.
This shot was my first attempt at using a remote flash. No, the lamp was NOT switched on! The FL-600R flash was just below the bottom edge of the photo, pointing straight up into the lamp. Not bad for my first try!
Compared to the previous photo, this time I had raised the FL-600R flash about eight inches, so that the top of it was just inside the lamp shade. As before, it was pointing straight up. The lamp was not turned on — all of the light was com­ing from the flash.
For my third test shot, I moved the FL-600R flash to the other side of the dresser top, off-frame to the left and angled up somewhat.
For the remainder of my test shots, I decided to wander around the house looking for interesting subjects. My first stop was at the bedroom door of my thirteen-year-old daughter. As you can see, the FL-600R flash was sitting on the floor, pointing straight up. As with all of the images in this test, the flash was the only source of light. Again and again, I was pleased with how the flash, working together with my camera, ex­posed each scene.
A close-up crop of the previous photo. The balloon was about five feet above the FL-600R flash, which was sitting on the ground, pointing straight up.
After some test shots upstairs, I wandered down­stairs and noticed this flower arrangement. I thought it would be interesting to put the FL-600R flash behind the vase, and have the light shine through it. But in order for the optical commands from the tiny FL-LM2 flash sitting on my camera to reach and trigger the remote sensor on the FL-600R, I had to lay the flash unit on its side, as you can see in this picture.
This set-up was similar to the one in the last photo, except that this time I angled the flash head so that it was pointing higher. As before, the FL-600R flash, sitting behind the vase, had to be laid on its side so that the optical com­mands from the tiny FL-LM2 flash sitting on my camera could reach and trigger the remote sen­sor on the FL-600R.
For this shot I positioned the FL-600R flash on the table a little ways to the left of the vase, and angled the flash head up towards the flowers.
Next, I moved the flower vase onto the floor. I positioned the FL-600R flash at the edge of the table above, with the flash head hanging over the edge and tilted downwards.
A 100%-crop close-up of the previous photo. Lovely colors and rich detail!
For my last shot, the set-up was similar to the one in the previous photo, except that I moved the FL-600R flash towards the camera a bit, and I positioned the camera somewhat lower.
A 100%-crop close-up of the previous photo. Once again, lovely colors and rich detail!
Well, that pretty much wraps up my first attempt at remote wireless flash photography. It was a short test — only 15 minutes elapsed between the first shot and the last. Because it was so successful and satisfying, I plan on doing further tests in the near future ... the fun and the learning continues with Remote Wireless Flash Test #2.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 395
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