Second/slave flash or other techniques for portraits?

Started Feb 21, 2011 | Discussions thread
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Second/slave flash or other techniques for portraits?
Feb 21, 2011

I am shooting with a Canon 5dII with a 580EX flash for indoor portraits. Right now my most successful strategy is to shoot during a sunny day in rooms with big windows using a prime lens wide open. I am very happy with some of these shots, but I would like to be able to bring more of my own light to bear on the situation for when the sun is not shining.

Just using my on camera flash is not usually very pleasing. I don't have a flash diffuser (although I am thinking of ordering one) so I try to bounce the flash off the ceiling by orienting it straight up which is somewhat helpful, but in general results are not great, even though I have done a fair amount of reading about flash concepts and techniques.

I was thinking my next step might be to get a second flash unit to position to the side of my subject and get more even, diffuse light that way.

My questions:

1) Is this a reasonable next step or should I buy some other type of lighting accessory?
2) What flash unit would be best for this purpose?

3) Is it as simple as setting the second unit to 'slave' and then the on camera flash will trigger it?

4) Is it possible, and would it be better to have both flash units off camera and somehow trigger the flashes wirelessly?

Thanks for any advice.

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