I am taking night landscape photos (10+ second exposures) and want to illuminate a feature that may be 25 feet from the camera (like a person). I want to be able to have an off camera flash 10 feet from the feature and fire the flash during the 10 second exposure to make it show up in the pic. I've achieved my desired results using a flashlight from behind the camera and shined it at my friend, but I can only do this when I'm behind the camera. If I want to be in the shot and I'm alone, I need a remote and off-camera flash. I don't want the flash on the camera to fire. Can this be achieved?


Of course it's possible. You have at least 3 solutions:

  • An infrared transmitter: the camera and flash must be in sight, no obstacle between the two. Operation is bad in daylight.

  • A radio transmitter. The most universal solution. the transmitter will might be used in other cases.

  • In case of a long exposure, the solution proposed above is good: fire the flash manually.

A short tutorial on how to trigger a remote flash.


Yes. Almost all wireless radio flash remotes have a "test" button. You can use this to trigger the flash even if the remote is not on the camera.

For that matter, flashes almost always have a test button of their own. Depending on the circumstance, you could just walk to the flash and push the button — no remote needed.

  • Walking up to the flash and firing it might cause issues if the person pushing the button is in the frame at the time and some of the light from the flash spills onto the person. – Michael C Aug 23 '16 at 20:16
  • @MichaelClark Yes, that's one of a number of circumstances that fall under "depending on the circumstance". – mattdm Aug 23 '16 at 20:19
  • Thanks guys! I thought that may be the case, but couldn't tell for sure when looking at remotes online an wanted to check before I clicked "buy now." – Mike Aug 23 '16 at 21:22
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    Cheap timer/intervalometers are also becoming available, if you want to be in the shot doing something other than triggering the remote... – junkyardsparkle Aug 23 '16 at 21:44

Not sure if it works at these distances but you could also use an optical slave flash. The camera flashes not very powerful but enough for the slave flash to pick it up and fire as configured.


Yes, it's quite possible. However, it may be a little more complicated than simply setting up a remote flash, because you'll have a remote camera, too.

You can use the timer on the camera, but that will require that you can make it to your spot 25 feet away and check your pose within the timer's set interval. This can be a serious pain when you go to check the camera and do multiple retakes. So you'll probably want a camera shutter remote, too.

Flash radio triggers are the most common way of setting off a remote flash. Optical triggers can work, especially at night. But they require another flash burst from the camera to "master" them, and used outdoors will require line-of-sight. The range and reliability can be less than with radio. And optical triggers may require hotshoe/flash foot adapters, which in combination will cost... about the same as a cheap set of manual radio triggers (manual means they can only tell the flash when to fire. So your flash has to have manual power control on it, so you can set the output level on the flash).

Where the complication comes in is that most of the cheap radio triggers used for flash can do double-duty as shutter remotes as well, by using a short cable to plug into the camera's cable release port. So, to get both functions, you may need two transmitter/receiver sets: one to operate the camera shutter, the other to trigger the flash. You can do this by using the sets on different channels. But some transceiver units (e.g., Yongnuo RF-603II) are capable of having the on-camera unit be both the receiver for the shutter and the transmitter for the remote flash, so you'd only need three units instead of four.

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