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Speedlights: What I am learning thus far


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#1 of 38 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted August 09 2010 - 09:29 AM


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.


 

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#2 of 38 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted August 09 2010 - 09:31 AM

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.


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#3 of 38 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted August 09 2010 - 11:21 AM

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


http://www.bhphotovi...ight_Stand.html


 

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#4 of 38 OFFLINE   JohnRice

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Posted August 09 2010 - 06:16 PM



Originally Posted by Ronald Epstein 


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.


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.


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#5 of 38 OFFLINE   Thomas Newton

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Posted August 09 2010 - 08:54 PM

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://nikonclspract...e-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.  /img/vbsmilies/htf/eek.gif



#6 of 38 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted August 10 2010 - 02:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JohnRice 

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.


Word.


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#7 of 38 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted August 10 2010 - 02:31 AM



 I think you are trying to take on too much too fast.




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.


 

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#8 of 38 OFFLINE   Thomas Newton

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Posted August 10 2010 - 05:38 AM



Originally Posted by Ronald Epstein 


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.


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 of 38 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted August 10 2010 - 06:14 AM

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!  /img/vbsmilies/htf/thumbsup.gif  /img/vbsmilies/htf/patriot.gif


/img/vbsmilies/htf/biggrin.gif


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#10 of 38 OFFLINE   JohnRice

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Posted August 10 2010 - 06:22 AM



Originally Posted by Thomas Newton 




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.


exactly.


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#11 of 38 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted August 10 2010 - 09:02 AM

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 /img/vbsmilies/htf/tongue.gif).


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


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#12 of 38 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted August 11 2010 - 09:24 AM

Maybe someone will get some insight from this article on powering down the flash:

 

http://view.e.adoram...60c79701279&r=0


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#13 of 38 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted August 16 2010 - 02:00 AM

Another flash post with helpful tips for a beginner.

 

http://www.flickr.co...57624598011719/

 

Even though it's discussing Canon stuff, the concepts should port over to Nikon stuff.


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#14 of 38 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted August 16 2010 - 02:06 AM

Patrick,

 

Thanks for posting this information.


 

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#15 of 38 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted August 24 2010 - 03:48 PM

http://digital-photo...ography School)


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#16 of 38 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted August 25 2010 - 07:28 AM

Here's an article on using manual flash exposures.  Kinda scary stuff!

 

http://view.e.adoram...d0078761572&r=0


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#17 of 38 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted October 19 2010 - 08:43 AM

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/ta...phy-techniques/


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#18 of 38 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted October 19 2010 - 11:17 PM

Cameron,


Great find.  Going to read this thoroughly.

Thank you


 

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#19 of 38 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted October 20 2010 - 04:02 AM

Sadly, this is the main source of flash-photography anxiety for me:


http://neilvn.com/ta...unce-flash-off/


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#20 of 38 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted October 20 2010 - 04:19 AM

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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