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Random Things I’m Learning about Speedlights


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6 replies to this topic

#1
leighgion

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I’ve been almost exclusively a fast lens available light man for years, but of late I’ve committed to learning how to use speedlights better. A lot of good things, but also hiccups I didn’t expect.

1. White ceilings and walls are great for bouncing, but if everything is white, your shots end up looking dull as dishwater.

2. Daylight fill flash can be a surprising difficult and inconsistent experience.

Under full sunlight, things work more or less as expected but in mixed sun and shade, things get weird with iTTL. I get much better results going full manual on everything, camera and flash power, but that’s a rough way to shoot moving subjects in changing light.

Ever tried to shoot a kid’s birthday party outdoors in Spanish sun with a speedlight on your cam adjusting everything manually while minding your own 3-year-old? I have now. It’s a roller coaster.

3. There’s never enough flash power when bouncing. I’m not getting studio strobes, but I look back at the one time I shot with them and I appreciate them more now.

4. The vast majority of tutorials and discussions of advanced lighting techniques assume a cooperative subject, time and ability to setup lights or both. Most often I have neither.


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#2
Tony

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I’ve been almost exclusively a fast lens available light man for years, but of late I’ve committed to learning how to use speedlights better. A lot of good things, but also hiccups I didn’t expect.

1. White ceilings and walls are great for bouncing, but if everything is white, your shots end up looking dull as dishwater.

2. Daylight fill flash can be a surprising difficult and inconsistent experience.

Under full sunlight, things work more or less as expected but in mixed sun and shade, things get weird with iTTL. I get much better results going full manual on everything, camera and flash power, but that’s a rough way to shoot moving subjects in changing light.

Ever tried to shoot a kid’s birthday party outdoors in Spanish sun with a speedlight on your cam adjusting everything manually while minding your own 3-year-old? I have now. It’s a roller coaster.

3. There’s never enough flash power when bouncing. I’m not getting studio strobes, but I look back at the one time I shot with them and I appreciate them more now.

4. The vast majority of tutorials and discussions of advanced lighting techniques assume a cooperative subject, time and ability to setup lights or both. Most often I have neither.


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Well sir, I thank your very much for the comprehensive data.  Regards,  Tony



#3
ScottinPollock

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I've always seen inconsistent results with ittl. When outside, I'll go AP, get the right aperture for flash exposure, and then bracket the ambient.

#4
Ron

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I don't shoot much daylight fill these days. However, in my old film days, when I first discovered TTL and used it for daylight fill I thought that I had died and gone straight to the pearly gates. In fact, Nikon's original TTL was a lifesaver both indoors and out.

 

--Ron



#5
leighgion

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I don't shoot much daylight fill these days. However, in my old film days, when I first discovered TTL and used it for daylight fill I thought that I had died and gone straight to the pearly gates. In fact, Nikon's original TTL was a lifesaver both indoors and out.

--Ron


If my subject is under direct sunlight then it works great, even with the pop up flash. The problem is when the subject is mostly in the shade, but there’s sections of the frame that are sunlit that I want to balance.



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#6
Ron

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If my subject is under direct sunlight then it works great, even with the pop up flash. The problem is when the subject is mostly in the shade, but there’s sections of the frame that are sunlit that I want to balance.
 

 

The old system (TTL) also worked great in shade (or dappled light). I shot an outdoor carnival that was set up in a tree lined area of otherwise bright sunlight with my N90s and SB-28 and every image was perfectly exposed. I was gobsmacked! I'm struggling to remember the specifics now but I believe I switched from my favorite metering mode (center weighted averaging) and used Matrix mode. 

 

I don't know what metering mode you use but maybe switching to matrix mode will help. The only other thing I can think of that might help is to be aware of the bright spots in your viewfinder and try to minimize them as much as possible. Or maybe this is one of those times when high speed sync is the solution.

 

--Ron



#7
leighgion

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The old system (TTL) also worked great in shade (or dappled light). I shot an outdoor carnival that was set up in a tree lined area of otherwise bright sunlight with my N90s and SB-28 and every image was perfectly exposed. I was gobsmacked! I'm struggling to remember the specifics now but I believe I switched from my favorite metering mode (center weighted averaging) and used Matrix mode.

I don't know what metering mode you use but maybe switching to matrix mode will help. The only other thing I can think of that might help is to be aware of the bright spots in your viewfinder and try to minimize them as much as possible. Or maybe this is one of those times when high speed sync is the solution.

--Ron


Basically always in matrix metering mode. I think this is probably just a case of the light meter being a light meter and not a human being with understanding of aesthetics.


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