Flashes can be used to influence the exposure of a scene, as well as the white balance. Using gels will give you the ability to correctly match the white balance of your flash output to ambient color temperatures at the same time that they give you the power to dramatically alter the color of a subject or an entire scene.
There are numerous gels to choose from, but for most basic work you’ll need a selection of gels that will correct for both tungsten and fluorescent bulbs while also offering a warming solution. Most major camera manufacturers like Canon and Nikon produce their own gels, and there are a variety of companies that offer quality gel kits for standard shoe-mount flashes, like ExpoImaging’s Rogue Universal Lighting Filter Kit, Sticky Filters‘ reusable peel and stick gels, Rosco‘s affordable and extensive Strobist 55-Piece Filter kit and LumiQuest’s Special Effects, Ready for Anything and Strobist kits. Each LumiQuest kit also includes a light modifier.
Modern flashes primarily use infrared communication, which can be problematic when working over distances or around obstacles. Radio transmitters and receivers solve this problem because signals can travel through solid matter (up to a point) while also transmitting over longer distances. They can have a learning curve, especially since not all offer TTL capabilities, but they’ll give you new and exciting ways to work with a flash once it’s no longer tethered through cables or line of sight to your DSLR.
The MicroSync II Digital transmitter includes four channels of operation for avoiding possible interference from other photographers and electronics. Receivers can be plugged directly into off-camera flashes with PC sync terminals (like Nikon’s SB-900 and Canon’s 580EX II) using the optional PC cord. It supports distances of up to 100 feet and shutter speeds of up to 1?180 sec. Estimated Street Price: $49 (transmitter); $69 (receiver); $18 (MicroSync PC cord).
Most radio wireless triggers are available as a separate transmitter and receiver unit, but the PocketWizard Plus II automatically switches between transceiver and receiver as needed so you can use the Plus II in either situation. It can trigger lights at up to 1,600 feet, and through the use of an optional camera cable it will remotely fire a DSLR. Estimated Street Price: $169.
The Quantum Qflash Pilot QF9C/N remote controller (C for Canon or N for Nikon/Fujifilm) offers an operating range that’s five times the distance of most infrared systems. The FreeXwire TTL radio and QTTL adapter will control three separate groups of Quantum TRIO or compatible Qflashes from the hot-shoe of your camera.
Available separately, Quantum’s FW10w FreeXwire Digital Transceiver can be used as a radio transmitter or as a receiver with full TTL metering and remote control at up to 500-feet. Estimated Street Price: $439 (Qflash Pilot QF9C/N); $255 (FW10w FreeXwire D
The wireless RadioPopper JrX System offers up to 1,500 feet of operating distance. With the optional RPCube adapter, EZset technology will let you control light output from the transmitter on receiving Canon or Nikon TTL flashes in up to approximately eight stops of light. Strobes from AlienBees, White Lightning and Zeus are also compatible. List Price: $79 (JrX Transmitter); $99 (JrX Studio Receiver); $169 (JrX Studio Kit); $29 (RPCube).