Speedlights: What I am learning thus far

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Ronald Epstein, Aug 9, 2010.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Just purchased a Nikon SB600 Speedlight today with

    a plastic diffuser.


    However, from a video I am watching it looks like I
    am going to eventually need a cable to move the flash

    away from the camera. Also, possibly another tripod

    to hold the flash to one particular side. The cable they

    sell is about $70 or so which is outrageous.

    In any event, I look forward to playing with the speedlight.


    I learned already that the two most popular speedlight

    settings are TTL and BL. With both TTL and BL activated

    and the camera placed in matrix mode, the speedlight
    illuminates most of what is in the frame very evenly.
    Using just TTL on the speedlight and switching to spot

    metering on the camera allows you to hone in on lighting

    only a particular area of the subject.
     
  2. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    The D90 can use the on board light as a commander and the SB600 can be remotely triggered by it. No cable needed. But as I cautioned before If you are still struggling to understand the camera modes then CLS (nikon remote trigerring) will seem like black magic.


    If you wish to focus and recompose I suggest you set your primary trigger button to release (ie remove focus from it) and set the AF button on the back to focus. Focus by hitting that button with your thumb, let go, recompose and shoot with main trigger.


    Sam
     
  3. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Here is a nice cheap stand that I think will work well....


    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/359885-REG/Impact_2205_Black_Light_Stand.html
     
  4. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Ron, I don't know anything about what these modes do, but from a basic lighting perspective, I don't see how that is possible.


    Lighting is a physical process. It can't be varied electronically, in terms of where the light actually falls. I'm just thinking you must be misunderstanding something. Lighting is probably THE most difficult thing about photography to understand. I think you are trying to take on too much too fast.
     
  5. Thomas Newton

    Thomas Newton Screenwriter

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    To oversimplify things, TTL and TTL-BL are two flash metering modes. TTL-BL is there to help when (a) the subject is strongly backlit, and (b) there is so much unwanted light that you can't get rid of it with the regular camera controls.


    TTL-BL will increase flash power in an attempt to make the subject as bright as the background. John is correct in that the flash cannot change where its light actually falls. But the light that hits the subjects (and takes them "out of the shadows") will probably be noticed more than any light that hits a well-lit object, or that takes a one-way trip out of a window.


    For all the gory details, see the "Nikon CLS Practical Guide".


    http://nikonclspracticalguide.blogspot.com/2008/01/nikon-flash-two-separate-metering.html


    For someone just learning photography, my take would be:


    1. Use the camera controls to determine the exposure from ambient light.


    2. Use TTL-BL mode if the subject is strongly backlit (in shadow relative to surroundings) and TTL mode (or no flash at all) if the subject is not.


    3. Don't try to absorb all of the details of how flash works in every special circumstance at once. Your head will explode.
     
  6. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Quote:


    Word.
     
  7. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Not really. How is that possible? I'm talking

    about two of the most basic modes on the
    speedlight according to the instructional video

    I have been watching.

    I bought a speedlight. I want to use it.


    There are several different settings on a speedlight

    I may never figure out. But, if I am going to use it,

    I need to learn the basics.


    I think I did learn the essence of two very basic

    modes. I also think I was pretty spot on with my

    original description of how the two modes work.
    I watched several videos that gave the same

    explanation. Perhaps the fault lied in how I

    explained it.


    Thomas' explanation above is exactly how I
    understood the video. However, the video did describe

    using spot metering (selected on front of camera) and

    TTL to give more precise lighting to whatever you are

    putting into focus (aka a smaller area). At least, this is

    how I understood the process.


    I also learned that you can bounce light off a wall or

    ceiling (as long as it is white), however you need to
    keep your subject close to the wall as the bounced
    light will deteriorate the farther away that subject is.


    If I understand correctly, If a subject is next to a

    window and the light coming through that window

    illuminates one side of the face you can place your

    speedlight on the opposite side of the face to balance

    out the lighting.


    Not trying to digest this too fast. Just want to be able

    to plug a speedlight in and at least know how to do
    something with it.


    ...and I understand I may not be getting this 100%

    right as there are many variables to consider. However

    I do appreciate you guys correcting the things I don't

    understand or are improperly explaining.
     
  8. Thomas Newton

    Thomas Newton Screenwriter

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    Maybe spot metering feeds flash metering, improving the precision of flash power calculation. Supposing it does, when you fire the flash, the light is still going to go all over; it's not going to hit just your subject, or just the area corresponding to the spot meter.
     
  9. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Ron:

    Again, from my rather weak knowledge of the basics of photography...I think all anyone here is saying is that flash photography is probably the toughest part of photography to learn. It is realllllly complicated and hard to get right.

    I just interpreted the advice above as to to play with the new camera for awhile before trying to master the complexities of the flash. I hesitate to put words into anyone else's mouth, though...but that would be my advice.

    To this day, I have the flash permanently turned off on the point-and-shoot we use most commonly in our house. And when I was shooting mostly 35mm film on my SLR, the flash was probably the least-used item in my bag.

    I sure do admire your enthusiasm, however!
     
  10. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    exactly.
     
  11. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Ron,


    For now, use the flash in as simple ways as you can, if the need arises. Just don't expect consistently great results until you become much more advanced in this -- that's pretty much how I feel about using flash as well (and honestly, I generally just avoid using it as much as possible ).


    As w/ a great many things, it's probably easier to subtract from a scene/setting/etc. than to add to it...


    _Man_
     
  12. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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  13. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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  14. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Patrick,

     

    Thanks for posting this information.
     
  15. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    http://digital-photography-school.com/the-classic-portrait-how-to-build-and-use-your-own-portable-portrait-studio?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+DigitalPhotographySchool+%28Digital+Photography+School%29
     
  16. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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  17. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Check this guy out. I find him highly understandable, unlike some of the stuff on Strobist. It's still a lot to take in, but he puts it into digestible pieces that can incrementally improve your work.


    http://neilvn.com/tangents/flash-photography-techniques/
     
  18. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Cameron,


    Great find. Going to read this thoroughly.

    Thank you
     
  19. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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  20. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    The last comment on that page (#24) is important to remember, about balancing flash with the ambient as much as possible.


    Also, I don't have that big of a problem with direct flash for occasions that are party oriented, like a wedding reception. It's probably less ideal for more intimate moments like the ceremony or couple's first dance...but whatever will get you the shot.
     

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