Nikon’s Creative Lighting System allows wireless off-camera flash with complete remote control. I’ve got a D300 camera and two flash units, an SB800 and an SB600. I put either or both flash units on stands in various positions, and control their output from the camera. Because the system is wireless, the model and I can move around freely. I know it shows my age to say this, but this kind of stuff was science fiction when I took up photography as a hobby.
Nikon’s electronic flash units are really, really smart, and offer excellent automatic exposure controls, but there’s a little caveat many Nikon users neglect to notice while carefully reading the manual: The flash meters the center of the frame, no matter what camera metering setting you are using. This is why many people get frustratingly inconsistent results in flash photography. The solution is to learn how to use the Flash Value Lock feature of your Nikon camera, which allows you to fire a test flash with your subject in the center of the frame, then recompose and shoot the actual picture using the flash value calculated during the test. It sounds more complicated than it is. In fact, you know it’s fast and easy, or I wouldn’t be doing it.
If you don’t learn to use the Flash Value Lock, off-center subjects will not be exposed properly, and when you overexpose with a flash, it’s very hard to save the image in post-processing.
Flash Value Lock is irrelevant if you use manual flash settings (as many fans of strobist.com do), but learning to use the feature helps those of us who like to use Nikon’s Through-The-Lens (TTL) automatic exposure settings.
For most of my life, I’ve been an available light photographer, but after discovering strobist.com and the possibilities of off-camera flash, I enjoy taking more control of the light, even though I’m still quite low on the learning curve. Best of all, the tools have become much more affordable and easier to use than when I started out.
Today, we can get studio-quality light from tiny electronic flashes and inexpensive little diffusers. Several of the sites on the “favorites” list on the right side of this page are devoted to electronic flash use, and the authors’ expertise exceeds mine by far, but I’ve been studying their work, so if you have questions about flash use, I’m happy to help you find the answers.