• M Team

5 Hacks To Mastering Your Speed-Light

Create masterful shots with these simple speed-light tricks

My speed-light was the first piece of lighting-equipment I owned. I needed a bit of extra light in darker wedding venues, and it was the lighting I could afford at the time. Over the years I started using it in unexpected ways to get the results I wanted in my images - not always having the ideal lighting on-hand that I needed to pull-off the shot. To this day, finally having access to all the studio lights I need, I still use this nifty light and those unexpected techniques in certain scenarios as my first choice of lighting. These 5 hacks will tell you why:


Back-lighting creates a silver light-edge around the silhouette of your subject. Apart from making your image look more dynamic, this can also help separate your subject from the background. If I’m photographing a bride with dark hair against a dark background, I will place my Nikon SB-910 speed-light on a trigger and have my assistant aim it at the back of her head from a high angle. The rim of light will carve her out of the background, as well as light up some of her hair detail which is often lost on black hair.

Back-lighting can be effective on location too, as it illuminates anything semi-transparent in your frame such as rain drops or a veil, creating a far more dramatic image.


Speed-lights tend to give off a very hard light which is great for an edgy shot, but perhaps you want a softer look in certain images. Firing your speed-light through a hand-held scrim can diffuse your light drastically and create a soft, feathered effect. When using this method, you want to hold the scrim as close to your subject as possible without coming into frame, and put a bit of distance between it and your speed-light. This will ensure your light is as diffused as possible. *TIP: Be sure not to hold your speed-light too far from the scrim as you want to ensure all of the discharged light passes through the scrim. You can control your light-beam spread with a small detachable honeycomb or by adjusting the focal length setting on the flash you’re using.