I travel a lot each year on assignments and teaching workshops; a major priority for me is traveling light. A lot of trips I might be traveling alone, so I don't have a fleet of assitants to help carry my gear. With this in mind, I have narrowed down my minimalist lighting gear to a few simple items. With one flash and a few accessories, I can really create some nice images. If I have a little more space, I would bring a second speedlight as well. Here is my list of six speedlight accessories I never leave home without.
1. PocketWizards. One of the most important capabilities of modern TTL flash is the ability to trigger flash off-camera. My speedlights do have a built-in optical slave system, which works fine for most situations. But when I need to trigger my flash from a long distance I use the PocketWizard Flex TT5 and Mini TT1 for their stronger radio signal. This radio system is not affected by bright sun and doesn't need line of sight to operate, also very helpful on shoots. With the AC3 controller I can adjust output right at the camera. If I lose my wizards along the way, I can still use my popup flash on my D800 along with my SB900 to trigger the units wirelessly.
2. Lastolite Trigrip. This handy reflector gives me a way to reflect or diffuse available light, as well as soften my flash or change the color of the light. The 8-in-1Trigrip kit comes with translucent fabric and other colors like orange, black, and silver. One handy thing (no pun intended) about the Trigrip is the handle. The handle allows one handed control of the reflector, freeing up a hand for other jobs. Any bystander can be trained on the spot to be your grip!
3. Manfrotto Justin Clamp (175F). This handy clamp has a cold shoe for your flash, and a clamp to attach it about anywhere. I often use my tripod as a light stand by attaching my flash to it using a Justin Clamp (one less light stand to haul around). You can also use the clamp to hold your Trigrip. The clamp has a standard socket to fit on light stands too. I am always finding a new spot to use this clamp.
4. Rogue Flash Bender snoot. Rogue makes some great speedlight accessories, including their snoot. Snoots narrow the beam of light from your flash to a narrow spot, allowing creative effects. I love creating travel portraits where my subject's eyes have a splash of light from a snooted flash. A great design feature of the Rogue snoot is the velcro attachment strap is permanently attached to the snoot. No more searching for velcro bands in my camera bag.
5. Rogue Gels. Another simple item to carry with your speedlights are gels. Gels let you change the color of your flash for color correction or creative effects. I really like to shoot images with my white balance set to incandscent, and use my flash with a full CTO (orange) on the head. The orange gel color corrects the flash back to nuetral, so my subject will look nuetral against a deep blue background (ambient light goes blue using incandscent white balance). I use the Rogue gel set, simple with lots of color options.
6. Diffusion dome. Most speedlights come with a diffusion dome of some type. Why? Because adding this simple cap takes the edge off your flash, which is great for quick fill flash shots on the run. Next time you are trying to add some fill light under your subject's sombrero, try using the diffusion dome in TTL mode to get a subtle, natural fill light.