Fresh. Contemporary. Modern. Photography for the fashion-inspired bride.

Wedding Reception Lighting: CyberSyncs + Off Camera Flash


So, at the beginning of the summer, the scariest part about shooting weddings for me was the reception. Because it involved FLASH. As a lover of available light, I had no idea where to start. But Saturday night I shot my first SOLO wedding and I felt that the reception was the easiest part! Since I’ve (for the most part) overcome my fear of reception lighting, I thought I’d share with you what I’ve learned.

After a couple weddings assisting Rik Andes (who has essentially become my mentor – YAY!) and seeing his setup in action, I asked him to hook me up with the same because I had no idea what I needed to make everything work. Through him, I was introduced to CyberSync, which are essentially the same as PocketWizards, but $100 cheaper. I know how confusing all of this lighting can be, so let me share with you what I’ve learned in the past couple weeks, and walk you through how to get the same setup (with all the credit going to Rik!).

PS – This is definitely just ONE way of going about it for off-camera flash (OFC), but I know Jasmine Star has a similar setup with PocketWizards. And I love Jasmine Star. So if it’s good for her, surely it can be good for me! ;)

This is my setup for a Canon EOS 7D. Sorry for those who shoot any other Canon body and also Nikon shooters – I am of no help to you! :(

So, excluding  the two flashes, the entire setup is less than $300.  I’d definitely recommend Eneloop batteries for the flashes. They last forever and are PRETTY.

So here’s the basic light stand setup. I haven’t used the softbox at a reception yet because it’s quite large, and I just don’t know if it will put out enough light. I have the receiver attached to the flash with velcro. I was a little hesitant to put velcro on everything, but I used the actual Velcro brand, and it comes right off if it needs to. (This is the nice thing about PWs – they have a hand strap so you can just hang the receiver on the stand.)

This is a close up of the adapter. It’s basically just like the hotshoe on your camera, except it has a cord that attaches to the receiver. I believe the 580EX II speedlite has a place for the receiver to plug in directly, but I’m not sure. I know that this works for me, so that’s good enough, right? :)

The 430EX II flash doesn’t have a pull-out bounce card like the 580, so I had to make one. It’s attached with velcro (I should have gotten black velcro!), and there’s a strip of velcro on each of the three sides for when you’re shooting vertical, too. Again, the transmitter is attached to the flash with velcro, and plugs right into the side of the camera.

I’m still figuring out exactly how I use all of this combined to make images that I love, but here are a couple from this weekend’s wedding to give you a few examples.

Here, the OCF is directly behind the couple, creating a nice rim lighting, and my on-camera flash was set to ETTL (which is basically like automatic mode for your flash) and bounced off the card.

In this shot, I basically just moved clockwise in relation to above, so the OCF was to my left (and out of the shot) giving some side lighting. My on-camera flash was still set to ETTL and bounced off the card.

And here the OFC is just back/side lighting everyone in the shot, while my on-camera flash is exposed for the couple and bounced off the card (still ETTL).

So, I’m definitely not an expert on any of this, so if you have comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear them. I’d love to hear how you use/position your OCF to make beautiful images, too!

Happy Monday! (Did I really just say that?!)

***EDIT: Also check out my newest lighting post about mixing flash with ambient light!**


6 responses

  1. looks awesome! and yes, the 580 exII has a PC-sync jack, so no need for the hotshoe adapter. ;)

    July 11, 2011 at 8:58 am

  2. Do you mind sharing some of your settings ? It seems like you have gotten great results right out the gate. I have started using it this season with hit or miss results and have been super frustrated.

    August 31, 2011 at 1:09 am

  3. Hey Nicole! I updated the photos to show meta-data! In these shots, I used a 1/200 shutter speed, but I’ve learned since that if you slow the shutter down to like 1/50 or 1/30, you get a *ton* more ambient light, and as long as you’re using on-camera flash, the subjects should still be sharp because the burst of light freezes the action!

    When you’re using on- and off-camera flash, the settings mean totally different things (especially if your on-camera flash is set to ETTL). Shutter speed controls the ambient light, aperture still controls the depth of field, and ISO? I have no idea. Just helps make the exposure, I guess. I found I changed my settings a LOT less when using on- and off-camera flash! Hope this helps!

    August 31, 2011 at 9:34 am

  4. Scott

    Thank you for the read. I just started toying with the off camera flash and wondered if I had enough flashes and PW’s

    I wish I could figure out a way to make the ofc more utilized and not have to move it around. Do you keep it there the entire night??

    December 12, 2011 at 3:02 pm

  5. Lori

    Thank you for this information! I wasn’t sure how to set this up with the flash on the camera using the cybercyncs. I also didn’t realize you could still use ettl for the on camera flash. Great news. I was looking to get the PW’s, but I can’t afford them just yet, but these might be in reach! If I could ask, what did you set your off camera flash to? Was it full power or did you dial it down? Thanks again!

    December 13, 2011 at 5:42 am

  6. Nice .

    Thank you.

    August 15, 2013 at 7:02 pm

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