Can anyone help me understand how to use a flash for real estate photography?

I’m a beginner so I need a cheap flash (I have a canon rebel t6 camera). I’ve watched YouTube videos on different flashes, for example the yongnuo flashes. But I’m just very confused on how it works. Do I need a separate trigger? Or is there a flash with a built in trigger? How can I use a flash when shooting multiple exposures?

5 Answers

  • 4 months ago

    Use available light. Set your camera on a tripod and take several exposures 2 stops under, 1 stop under, normal, 1 stop over, 2 stops over. Then use a free HDR program to stitch them together.

  • 4 months ago

    "But I’m just very confused on how it works."

    A lot of the speedlight / flash reviews are from people who are using them as part of a studio setup - they've got multiple flash units and triggers, and it's completely irrelevant to you! Take Keerok's advice to get something with full TTL support (that just means the flash can be controlled by the camera) and use as many auto settings as possible!

    I'm a fan of Yongnuo flashes, but the instructions aren't great - allow yourself a bit of time to work out how to use it to its full potential.


    It looks like a lot of the marketing blurb is aimed at potential studio users too - it's very confusing! The YN600EX RT is the most powerful model, though the YN565EX II will do everything you need.

    • John P
      Lv 7
      4 months agoReport

      You should experiment in various rooms at home with several settings on flash and camera before offering services to photograph property for real estate sales. Remember, whatever the property, no matter what price, you must try to make it "look a million dollars". That is art, not techie stuff.

  • keerok
    Lv 7
    4 months ago

    Get a flash that is "fully TTL-compatible" with your camera. Your best bet is a Canon flash. It won't be cheap. I recommend you get the biggest one you can find. It is easy to tone down a powerful flash but you just can't add more lights that instantaneously when the one you have isn't strong enough.

    Cheap flashes, especially those fully manual ones, will do only if you know how to set them up properly. To take out the guess work, which also takes a lot of time, get that "fully TTL-compatible" flash. It will save you $$$ in the long run.

    If you are only using one flash which is connected to the camera, you can do without a trigger. You will only need a trigger if you are using the flash away from the camera or if you are using multiple flashes.

    Using the flash away from the camera allows you to put more light on a particular object or area in the room. Using multiple flashes allow you to spread out the lights to cover a wider area which normally isn't possible with an on-camera flash.

    Triggers nowadays are no-brainers. Just make sure to buy the radio/wireless types in a set and tell the seller to set them up before you leave the store. When you buy your flashes (2 should do) buy the triggers too at the same time and bring your camera so you can test them all in the store to be sure they all work together.

    As with the real estate industry, buy only from a reputable camera store near you.

    It is quite possible to shoot indoors with just existing household lights. For that you will need a sturdy tripod and take long exposure shots (the kind that takes more than a second to minutes even depending on the lighting). Make sure no one is moving about in the room.

    The only problem with this technique is when the room has mixed lighting (different types of bulbs) but in general, you should be able to create more dramatic scenes with it if you master the technique.

    • Iridflare
      Lv 7
      4 months agoReport

      "Get a flash that is "fully TTL-compatible" with your camera."

      Agreed, but I'd start with a Yongnuo - excellent value, works well, and you can use it as a slave / backup if and when you upgrade. Very much imho, but I'd avoid Canon - you're paying too much for the name!

  • 4 months ago

    There are 3 ways to fire an off camera flash.

    1. The worse way, (in my opinion), is as a "commander" type operation. That means the pop up flash on the camera causes the remote flash unit to fire. This is a system used by both Canon and Nikon. The pop up flash outputs a very low flash so, in theory, it has little effect on the photo, but I simply do not like the principle of it and it is very distance limited.

    2. Infrared optical trigger / slave. As you have a Canon, this could be an option for you. An infrared trigger mounts into the camera hot shoe and when you press the shutter, the trigger sends an infrared signal to the flash unit and causes it to fire. It works well, but does have a serious drawback. The trigger and receiving flash must be in line of sight with each other. This can really be a problem at times trying to mount the flash so it can "see" the trigger on the camera. Canon is, thankfully, phasing this out.

    3. Radio Trigger. This is by far the best method. Canon now has a radio trigger and certain flash units that work with it, (the 600 EX flash being one of them). Like the optical trigger, it mounts into the hot shoe of the camera, but it sends a RADIO signal to the flash. When you activate the shutter, the radio signal fires the flash. This setup works wonderfully and can fire the flash(s) even if they are around a corner and at quite long distances from the camera. The Canon set up is NOT cheap, and I also think it does not function with the T6 camera, but I am not sure of that.

    There is a way, however, to have a radio trigger set up no matter what camera or flash you may have. There are MANY third party manufacturers who can provide what you need. "Pocketwizard" is one of the best, but more expensive than many others. (Keep in mind, with photography equipment, you often get what you pay for, so even though you can certainly find much cheaper alternatives, you may end up sooner or later paying the money for a better set up). Anyway, with a third party set up, the radio trigger mounts into the camera hot shoe and a separate receiver is then placed wherever you want it. The flash then mounts into this radio receiver, (which has a hot shoe on the top of it). The trigger unit on the camera sends the signal to the radio receiver and it activates the hot shoe and fires the flash. Most of the better units will still support ETTL automatic flash exposure. You need to learn how to set flash power manually also though for the best control of your lighting situation.

    I'm not sure what you mean by "multiple exposures"? The flashes will fire for every exposure unless you turn the radio trigger off and / or adjust the flash power. By the way, in most cases, you can adjust the flash output power directly at the radio trigger unit, you do not have to be going over to adjust the individual flash unit(s).

    Finally, I have given you the basics. YOU are going to have to do lots of indepth research to find what works with your set up and at your price point.

    You are also going to need light stands with flash / cold shoe mount adapters and AT LEAST two flash units, three or more would be even better.

    • Steve P
      Lv 7
      4 months agoReport

      Very true. One bad situation though is in a party environment when other people's flashes are making YOUR flash go off! The commander / slave route is just not an overall good way to go.

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  • BriaR
    Lv 7
    4 months ago

    You only need a separate trigger if you want to use the flash off camera.

    Walk before you run...

    Just mount the flash on the camera hotshoe. Select manual mode. Set ISO 200, 1/200th shutter speed and aperture f/5.6. Point the flash at 30 degrees from vertical at a pale ceiling and fire the shutter. That is a starting point to give reasonable results indoors.

    Experiment from there.

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