EOS camera and Speedlite flash workshop

On Friday I ran another Speedlite workshop for EOS Magazine. I had a great group of people who wanted to do more with their Canon Speedlites.

On this particular course little to know flash knowledge is really needed, some attendees were starting from “I put the flash on the hotshoe, set the mode dial to P and let it do it’s magic“. Others had a transmitter or master flash and one or two slaves and wanted to control them.

This workshop starts off with a session of instruction to help everyone up to the same point in understanding how flash works, how to control your Speedlite flash and balance it with ambient light. In the second part of the day it goes practical as the team tried out some off-camera techniques using one or sometimes two off-camera Speedlites – here the fun starts.

A brain workout for me – eight camera & flash combinations at once

On Friday I had a total of eight different combinations of Speedlite and camera among the group, only one of those combinations is one I regularly use myself.

In terms of cameras I was helping people with their EOS-1Ds Mark III, EOS 5D Mark III, EOS 5D Mark II, EOS 6D, EOS 7D Mark II and EOS 7D. Speedlites in use ranged from the Speedlite 90EX, Speedlite 580EX, Speedlite 580EX II, Speedlite 600EX-RT, Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2, Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT and the built-in Speedlite on the EOS 7D Mark II.

Two wireless flash systems at once

To keep me on my toes and the workshop folks shooting I set up some sets with both radio and optical wireless slave flashes. Over the course of a few hours we started with triggering a single light off-camera in E-TTL, moved to adding modifiers to soften and control the light, flirted with manual flash power control and added a second Speedlite in to the mix.

With the two Speedlite setup I had to use different strategies for optical and radio wireless control.

Optical wireless meant that one Speedlite was set to individual slave mode, manual power and gelled to colour the Lastolite Urban background, the other left in E-TTL for the light on the model.

Switching to radio operation group mode was used since individual slave only works in optical wireless, however you have to recall that group mode won’t work on older cameras like the EOS 7D, EOS 5D Mark II and EOS-1Ds Mark III .


I love teaching and and do my utmost to make sure that the attendees get direct tuition on their specific combinations of equipment. Often this means I only come back from my workshops with test frames. In this case I found I had taken just four frames – three that illustrated using exposure compensation to adjust the ambient light independent of the flash, and one that was to demonstrate how the selected manual camera settings had eliminated all the ambient light. Yes that’s three progressively darker photos of a wall and one black frame. The attendees took all the pictures, I find they learn better that way when it comes to using and controlling their Canon flash and cameras.


There are more workshops coming up, so please check out the information my Photo Workshops section and sign up to learn how to use your camera kit.

I’m looking forward to an easier challenge in a couple of weeks when the sold out Optimise your EOS 5D Mark III course is running. At least everyone has an EOS 5D Mark III so it makes my life a little more straightforward. 🙂




About the author

Full-time photo tutor and photographer. I love to share my knowledge and skills to make photos, videos and teach others. I write books and articles for photo magazines and I always have at least one Speedlite flash in my camera bag