Basic flash question, please help!
/forum/topic/1171347/0



lycale
Registered: Nov 20, 2009
Total Posts: 465
Country: N/A

I am trying to understand flash photography. I use a D800 with an SB600 flash. I read a book on On- board flash by Neil Van Niekirk. I also looked at the Strobist site and read Thom Hogan's advice on using flash. I am still confused!

In many cases, they suggest to expose first, usually for the ambient light, and then turn on the flash. I use manual exposure as Van Niekirk recommends. Outside in the sun, I can easily get the meter to zero out in the center. (Hogan says that you then MIGHT want to underexposed by a stop or two to make the ambient light darker.) This is all fine for fill flash used outdoors. However, when I try to get a zero manual exposure indoors, where there is much less light, I can't get the exposure to go to zero, even with a wide-open aperture. The camera always indicates under exposure and requires flash. Then I have no idea what to do to get a proper ambient light exposure. I also then do not know what settings to use when I turn on the flash. Of course, I know that a smaller aperture allows for greater depth of field while a wider one blurs the background. I also understand that a faster shutter speed freezes action better and reduces blur. I would SO much appreciate help in understanding what to do and how to set the best shutter speed and aperture when I can't get a zero manual exposure. Thanks so much in advance.

Lynn



Nathan Padgett
Registered: Oct 22, 2007
Total Posts: 599
Country: United States

Just keep going lower with the shutter speed until you get the correct ambient. Or even toss it in aperture mode without the flash on and see what the camera thinks the right exposure is.

If you still can't get your meter to go to zero.. check to see if you exposure compensation is on.



Zebrabot
Registered: Aug 10, 2010
Total Posts: 918
Country: United States

What exactly are you trying to do?

The best thing to do with a Nikon system is turn the flash on, set it to TTL and fire away.

You should be able to adjust the power of the flash up and down in half stops or something like that on the SB600.

TTL-BL just runs the flash at less power to try to use more ambient light to better "balance" the lighting in your photos.

If you really want full control of lighting ratios you need a flash with manual controls, which I recall the sb600 lacks. You'll also want to switch the camera into manual mode as well, as it can't meter against a flash of light a non ttl strobe.

I've also never heard of "zero manual exposure".



Michaelparris
Registered: Sep 15, 2008
Total Posts: 2299
Country: United States

lycale wrote:
I am trying to understand flash photography. I use a D800 with an SB600 flash. I read a book on On- board flash by Neil Van Niekirk. I also looked at the Strobist site and read Thom Hogan's advice on using flash. I am still confused!

In many cases, they suggest to expose first, usually for the ambient light, and then turn on the flash. I use manual exposure as Van Niekirk recommends. Outside in the sun, I can easily get the meter to zero out in the center. (Hogan says that you then MIGHT want to underexposed by a stop or two to make the ambient light darker.) This is all fine for fill flash used outdoors. However, when I try to get a zero manual exposure indoors, where there is much less light, I can't get the exposure to go to zero, even with a wide-open aperture. The camera always indicates under exposure and requires flash. Then I have no idea what to do to get a proper ambient light exposure. I also then do not know what settings to use when I turn on the flash. Of course, I know that a smaller aperture allows for greater depth of field while a wider one blurs the background. I also understand that a faster shutter speed freezes action better and reduces blur. I would SO much appreciate help in understanding what to do and how to set the best shutter speed and aperture when I can't get a zero manual exposure. Thanks so much in advance.

Lynn


Bump the iso up. If you have the shutter speed you want and the f stop you want and you are still underexposed by more than you want to be.



Michaelparris
Registered: Sep 15, 2008
Total Posts: 2299
Country: United States

Zebrabot wrote:
What exactly are you trying to do?

The best thing to do with a Nikon system is turn the flash on, set it to TTL and fire away.

You should be able to adjust the power of the flash up and down in half stops or something like that on the SB600.

TTL-BL just runs the flash at less power to try to use more ambient light to better "balance" the lighting in your photos.

If you really want full control of lighting ratios you need a flash with manual controls, which I recall the sb600 lacks. You'll also want to switch the camera into manual mode as well, as it can't meter against a flash of light a non ttl strobe.

I've also never heard of "zero manual exposure".


Think the op means "perfect exposure" neither under nor over-exposed.



Zebrabot
Registered: Aug 10, 2010
Total Posts: 918
Country: United States

Michaelparris wrote:
Zebrabot wrote:
What exactly are you trying to do?

The best thing to do with a Nikon system is turn the flash on, set it to TTL and fire away.

You should be able to adjust the power of the flash up and down in half stops or something like that on the SB600.

TTL-BL just runs the flash at less power to try to use more ambient light to better "balance" the lighting in your photos.

If you really want full control of lighting ratios you need a flash with manual controls, which I recall the sb600 lacks. You'll also want to switch the camera into manual mode as well, as it can't meter against a flash of light a non ttl strobe.

I've also never heard of "zero manual exposure".


Think the op means "perfect exposure" neither under nor over-exposed.


well, the only way to correctly mix ambient and flash and control what's going on is to get a light meter, and to fire the flashes in a not TTL mode, either auto aperture or manual.

It will take two light readings to setup one scene.



NathanHamler
Registered: Sep 25, 2009
Total Posts: 2315
Country: United States

Yes, you need to raise your iso...remember that "only" iso and aperture (for the most part) come into play with flash photography...when i'm shooting flash indoors (in a dark setting, like a wedding reception) i'm at like 1/60-1/100s, at like iso 800-3200, and f/2.8...that way i'm letting in a good amount of ambient, but still i'm NEVER getting +/- 0ev on the meter...the ambient is always way less....there's a difference in "fill flash" and flash being your main light, with ambient as the fill light...btw, when shooting with flash, manual exposure mode will make your life much easier....



lycale
Registered: Nov 20, 2009
Total Posts: 465
Country: N/A

First, I can't thank all of you enough for your help. I really appreciate it.

I guess I did not use the right terminology when I spoke of zero and manual exposure. I do mean perfect exposure. When I put the camera in manual exposure mode, as opposed to aperture or shutter priority mode, I get an exposure bar with lines to indicate stops. Each stop has a shorter line to indicate one third of a stop. The left side of the bar has stops representing under exposure. The right side has stops representing overexposure. Right in the center is a zero to represent perfect exposure. I should be able to change the ISO , the aperture size, and/ or the shutter speed until the exposure "zeros out " at the center. I hope I have expressed myself better now.

I have been afraid to raise the ISO too high because of introducing noise. Also, often I cannot use a tripod because I am following active children or pets around the house. As a result, I have tried to keep the shutter speed at at least 1/50. I use TTL with the SB600. Again, I would appreciate any further advice that you might have. I hope I have explained things better now. Thanks so much.

Lynn



RKH
Registered: Mar 21, 2008
Total Posts: 584
Country: United States

And your SB-600 is perfectly capable of being set to and using manual mode. See pages 34-37 of your Nikon users manual.
Kim



Michaelparris
Registered: Sep 15, 2008
Total Posts: 2299
Country: United States

lycale wrote:
First, I can't thank all of you enough for your help. I really appreciate it.

I guess I did not use the right terminology when I spoke of zero and manual exposure. I do mean perfect exposure. When I put the camera in manual exposure mode, as opposed to aperture or shutter priority mode, I get an exposure bar with lines to indicate stops. Each stop has a shorter line to indicate one third of a stop. The left side of the bar has stops representing under exposure. The right side has stops representing overexposure. Right in the center is a zero to represent perfect exposure. I should be able to change the ISO , the aperture size, and/ or the shutter speed until the exposure "zeros out " at the center. I hope I have expressed myself better now.

I have been afraid to raise the ISO too high because of introducing noise. Also, often I cannot use a tripod because I am following active children or pets around the house. As a result, I have tried to keep the shutter speed at at least 1/50. I use TTL with the SB600. Again, I would appreciate any further advice that you might have. I hope I have explained things better now. Thanks so much.

Lynn


When using flash you don't have to be as concerned about signal noise as you do shooting natural light.



scottam10
Registered: Oct 01, 2012
Total Posts: 796
Country: Australia

lycale wrote:
I have been afraid to raise the ISO too high because of introducing noise. Also, often I cannot use a tripod because I am following active children or pets around the house. As a result, I have tried to keep the shutter speed at at least 1/50. I use TTL with the SB600. Again, I would appreciate any further advice that you might have. I hope I have explained things better now. Thanks so much.

Lynn


Hi Lynn

You're imposing too many limits for the camera to be able to achieve a 'perfect' exposure for the dim ambient light.

If you insist on having a low iso AND a fast shutter speed, the only variable you've given yourself to play with is the aperture. Once you're at f/2.8, you can't go any wider, unless you use a prime lens with a wider max aperture (eg. 50mm f/1.8). Hence your camera is simply not capable of satisfying all the conditions that you have imposed.

If there is limited light (ie indoors), you need to relax those constraints. You have a few options

1. Set the iso higher. Modern SLRs are capable of very good results at high iso, SLRs are much better than point-and-shoot cameras. Try setting the iso higher and see if you're happy with the results. I'd rather have a (slightly noisy) clear picture than one which is blurry because my iso was too low

2. Set a longer shutter speed. The flash will freeze your subject, and the longer shutter speed will allow the background to register in the picture. This works best if your subject is in a dark part of the room with a brighter background, as it relies on the flash providing most of the light on your subject; any ambient light on your subject will show up as motion blur around your subject. Set your flash to '2nd curtain' sync. Motion blur can give some nifty photo effects though, many wedding photographers use this technique on the dance floor

Or you can just set your camera to auto with the flash pointed at the ceiling and see what happens. The Nikon flash system is pretty clever, make use of it.

Hope this helps



NathanHamler
Registered: Sep 25, 2009
Total Posts: 2315
Country: United States

lycale wrote:
First, I can't thank all of you enough for your help. I really appreciate it.

I guess I did not use the right terminology when I spoke of zero and manual exposure. I do mean perfect exposure. When I put the camera in manual exposure mode, as opposed to aperture or shutter priority mode, I get an exposure bar with lines to indicate stops. Each stop has a shorter line to indicate one third of a stop. The left side of the bar has stops representing under exposure. The right side has stops representing overexposure. Right in the center is a zero to represent perfect exposure. I should be able to change the ISO , the aperture size, and/ or the shutter speed until the exposure "zeros out " at the center. I hope I have expressed myself better now.

I have been afraid to raise the ISO too high because of introducing noise. Also, often I cannot use a tripod because I am following active children or pets around the house. As a result, I have tried to keep the shutter speed at at least 1/50. I use TTL with the SB600. Again, I would appreciate any further advice that you might have. I hope I have explained things better now. Thanks so much.

Lynn


We get exactly what you're saying.....You don't NEED a perfect "zero" exposure when you're shooting with flash....if you're in manual mode, in a completely dark room, at 1/50s, f/2.8, and iso 1600, your meter in the viewfinder will read like very under exposed....but when you set your flash to TTL, it will pop with enough power to give you proper exposure, b/c your FLASH EXPOSURE COMPENSATION isn't set + or - anything....if you set your FEC to -1ev, then it will pop with only enough power to give you 1 stop under exposed image....How do i know this is correct? b/c i just did it....trust me......

So i guess stop trying to get a perfect "zero" exposure when you shoot flash.....it wont happen, and you dont need it....that's why you're shooting flash in the first place.....



lycale
Registered: Nov 20, 2009
Total Posts: 465
Country: N/A

I don't know what to say! You people are simply the best!!! I thank you so much. You can't imagine how much you've helped me. I wish I had posted this question earlier instead of trying for days to get a perfect exposure on the meter. A million thanks.

Lynn



mirageII
Registered: Mar 07, 2008
Total Posts: 182
Country: United Kingdom

The "perfect exposure" is your decision. Centering the needle to zero on the exposure scale gives you the same exposure the camera would calculate (from it's internal meter) in P mode.

One other simple option for increasing ambient when indoors is switching the room lights on.



ChrisDM
Registered: May 17, 2005
Total Posts: 7458
Country: United States

For dark indoor environments, i typically shoot at iso 1600 or 3200 with my lens wide open at f2.8 to get a nice ambient exposure. Then leave the flash on ttl and let it handle the subject exposure.



NathanHamler
Registered: Sep 25, 2009
Total Posts: 2315
Country: United States

Also, if you're ready for it, make sure you gel your flash to match the ambient color temp of the environment you're shooting in...light from a flash is a lot cooler than incandescent and some flourescent lighting...so you should gel the flash to match...

That is, if you're getting any ambient exposure at all...