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Thread: first shots with Speedlite

  1. #1

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    first shots with Speedlite

    I have been trying out the Speedlite my wife, Patricia, gave me for Christmas. I took these “selfies” on a tripod, bouncing the flash off a white ceiling. I noticed later that on no.3, the flash has reflected onto the buffet behind us – I would guess I needed to adjust the bounce angle better so the light fell further forward, or perhaps use the bounce diffuser. I didn’t get the DoF the way I wanted, was trying to get the back chair and us only in focus. Otherwise, I thought the flash was an improvement on previous efforts indoors. All comments very welcome. All were taken with Canon 7D, EF-S 17-85mm, ISO200, adjusted in ACR and Ps6.

    Thanks for looking, regards, Noel

    No.1 - f5.6, 1/8s
    first shots with Speedlite

    No.2 – f6.3, 1/8s
    first shots with Speedlite

    No.3 – f6.3, 0.3s
    first shots with Speedlite

  2. #2

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    Re: first shots with Speedlite

    Perhaps the most important characteristic other than your remarkable creativity is that I would not have known that flash was used. By the way, either your wife is equally creative or extremely indulgent.

    Notice in the first photo that there is no glare on the subject chair and very little glare in the foreground chair. There might have been glare on the buffet if Patricia had not blocked its appearance.

    The first one works best for me for all reasons, including the plain table cloth. I only wish there was slightly more space between the lower part of the top of the foreground chair and the top of the subject chair. Great job!

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    Re: first shots with Speedlite

    Hi Noel,
    it looks like you both had some fun trying this out, very creative.
    I look forward to seeing some more.
    Cheers
    John

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    Re: first shots with Speedlite

    I noticed your shutter speed was 1/8th second -- did you want the 'ambient light' to register as well as the flash ?
    Usually indoors people use the fastest synch speed of the camera to kill the ambient light and avoid 'mixed lighting' of the colour temperatures.

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    Re: first shots with Speedlite

    What camera settings, Noel? P, Tv, Av etc.

    Try some experiments with setting the camera manually and varying the flash exposure compensation to suit the scene. I think that may be more to your liking.

    But it can take a bit of trial and error before you get the hang of this method.

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    Re: first shots with Speedlite

    Hi Mike, hi John. Thank you for replying. It was quite a bit of fun. Patricia is more naturally creative, I can often think that way but have to work much harder for it – my idea to photograph along the table through the chairs, Patricia’s to position ourselves at the other end. I added the table runner after the first shot to lead the eye down the table in case anyone did not notice us there

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    Re: first shots with Speedlite

    Hello Peter and Geoff. Thank you both for your comments. Peter, the shutter speed was more incidental than deliberate – I had not yet progressed to considering ambient light, although now I understand the possible effects of mixed light sources. Thank you.
    I started this early in the morning – sun was up but it was quite overcast, very nice light in this easterly room. Played around with manual unsuccessfully for quite a while, then the sun got through and we had to close the curtains making the room fairly dim (probably accounts for the slow shutter). I decided to switch to Av, although EXIF says Auto so I must have mis-clicked. I used the ETTL setting on the flash and let the unit make the decisions because it is still new to me. I did not attempt to manipulate exposure compensation, again from lack of experience. Can anyone advise whether there is there any difference between adjusting via the flash compared to in camera? Or adjusting compensation compared to flash intensity, i.e. does a “stop” of intensity have the same effect as a stop of compensation?
    Thanks again to everyone who took the time to look and/or respond.
    - Noel

  8. #8
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    Re: first shots with Speedlite

    Noel : I am not familiar with CANON flashes, but on my PENTAX LX when I use TTL metering with my Mecablitz 45CL3 I set it to 'TTL' and set the ASA ( ISO) of the film then set the same number on the camera and if a have the shutter set to 'auto' flash sets the fastest synchronising shutter speed which is 1/75th sec on the LX when the flash is charged up - if I want a slower speed to allow more 'ambient light' it is necessary to take shutter OFF 'auto' and set a speed I want , say 1/15th sec -- 'one stop' means the same for flash compensation or camera compensation -- if you are in a WHITE area such as a bathroom you need '+' compensation -- if the subject is a long way from a backgound, say a person in a dark church in close-up you need '-' compensation or the person's face will be over-exposed. You need to practise so you can 'Recognise' the times when compensation is needed. I will see if I can find one of MY photos where I used 'compensation' of the flash --
    Here is a shot of characters outside at night, wearing black clothes so I gave TWO STOPS LESS exposure than my flash told me to -- I set the flash to f2.8 on 'auto' but used f5.6 on the Camera lens .
    first shots with Speedlite
    Billericay : Lake Meadows Fireworks by pentaxpete, on Flickr

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    Re: first shots with Speedlite

    Although you used ETTL on the flash, Noel, the camera settings also have an impact on the overall shot.

    Tv tends to produce rather open apertures while Av is likely to give slow shutter speeds. Either one of them may or may not be suitable for a particular scene.

    Which is where a little flash compensation can help.

    Although I find that if I'm not shooting with manual camera settings I often end up 'chasing my own tail' as each camera adjustment has a knock on effect with other settings.

    Using manual camera adjustments, to suit the type of scene prevents this problem and forces the camera to just use the flash output as the only available adjustment.

    But it does definitely take a little experimentation to master this technique; and how to use flash output settings for maximum benefit.

    Personally, I find it easier to make shutter speed and aperture settings with the camera, also Iso, then do the 'exposure' compensation with the flash unit.

    One stop of flash compensation seems similar to the same level of direct camera exposure adjustment as far as I can see. But I wouldn't rely on it being exactly the same in every case.

    I try to work out what would be ideal camera settings if it was a good light scene. For example, is there any subject movement or risk of camera shake. Then how much sharp focus depth do I require; which means an appropriate aperture setting.

    And, what Iso should I use to give me this without excessive 'noise'.

    Once these considerations are taken into account, I get my optimum manual camera settings. For example 1/200 F8 Iso 200.

    Then it is a case of varying the flash output to produce a well exposed scene. But trial shots are necessary and the settings may need correction if the scene changes.

    There are other options but let's stick with the simpler methods for now.

    ps. When I first moved from an old fixed output flash to a modern Speedlite it took me quite a lot of time and trial shots before I started to make any sense of what I was doing.

  10. #10
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    Re: first shots with Speedlite

    Hi Noel!

    I’ll say this! That is one interesting way to test out a Speedlite!

    Though I’m not real sure it is a fair test since you are tucked down in a “hole” between the chair and the buffet and there is a chair in the way. But it’s an interesting shot and what do I know anyway! You have generated some good comments with your testing.

    A suggestion I might make relates to Pete’s comment regarding ambient as you go.

    Don't be afraid to use your flash on manual settings. ETTL is very useful and I use it a lot. Especially in a "run and gun" scenario. You might find it useful to take some test shots with and without flash at different settings. Decide how/if you want to mix your ambient. That is a useful technique to start to see what your flash can and can’t do for you.

    I did a little of this in this post as an example. I also mentioned the settings used. It was three Speedlites, two of which were manual and one in ETTL and using compensation.

  11. #11

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    Re: first shots with Speedlite

    hi Peter, I think your tag should be changed to "an 'old dog', still teaching new tricks!". I really appreciate your informative responses. My flash only came with a Korean manual, but I have just done some reading up on the Canon site (much easier than learning Korean). The flash defaults to sync with first curtain opening, but can be changed to second curtain closing. The longer the shutter is open, the greater the effect of ambient light and pre flash motion blur. I spent some time experimenting today, and am beginning to understand. Thanks for your help.
    - Noel

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    Re: first shots with Speedlite

    Geoff, thanks for sharing your process - very helpful. I set myself a practical homework experiment. First shot Av priority, f6.3, -2 stops flash compensation = 1/4s; second shot Av, f6.3, -2 stops exposure compensation = 1/15s (i.e. 2 stops). Histograms almost identical. My deduction is that flash compensates by adjusting power, while exposure compensation leaves power alone and adjusts shutter speed (in Av priority). I may be incorrect, but that is how it appears to work (and I think that is what you are telling me). This reinforces your method, as compensating in flash ("varying flash output to produce a well exposed scene") only messes with intensity and eliminates the knock on effect to camera settings.
    - Noel

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    Re: first shots with Speedlite

    hello Terry, thanks for the advice. That was some set up in your linked post. There will be plenty of trial and almost as much error, but one day ...... . Am I correct in my understanding that "flash compensation" is adjusted only in ETTL, and "power output" only in Manual mode, but each affects the other?
    regards,
    Noel

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    Re: first shots with Speedlite

    Quote Originally Posted by pentaxpete View Post
    I noticed your shutter speed was 1/8th second -- did you want the 'ambient light' to register as well as the flash ?
    Usually indoors people use the fastest synch speed of the camera to kill the ambient light and avoid 'mixed lighting' of the colour temperatures.
    Hi Peter,

    In reality, it all depends on the flash power that is available; ambient is often reasonably well diffused and if one eliminates that then one then has to assume responsibility for replacing it - preferably - diffused as well, and that can be a big ask of a single flash as all one has to play with (at x-sync speed) is flash power (ISO and aperture affect ambient also, so it becomes a straight "drag race").

    I usually prefer to simply augment the ambient light with some directional flash (gelled if necessary).

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    Re: first shots with Speedlite

    Quote Originally Posted by casper View Post
    I have been trying out the Speedlite my wife, Patricia, gave me for Christmas. I took these “selfies” on a tripod, bouncing the flash off a white ceiling. I noticed later that on no.3, the flash has reflected onto the buffet behind us – I would guess I needed to adjust the bounce angle better so the light fell further forward, or perhaps use the bounce diffuser. I didn’t get the DoF the way I wanted, was trying to get the back chair and us only in focus. Otherwise, I thought the flash was an improvement on previous efforts indoors. All comments very welcome. All were taken with Canon 7D, EF-S 17-85mm, ISO200, adjusted in ACR and Ps6.
    Hi Noel,

    As a rule, try to avoid ceiling bounces (in a forward direction) - it'll usually give you what we call "office lighting" where you'll have dark eyes and other unflattering characteristics. Every situation is different, but you can often get better light either bouncing from behind or off a side wall.

  16. #16
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    Re: first shots with Speedlite

    Quote Originally Posted by casper View Post
    that "flash compensation" is adjusted only in ETTL, and "power output" only in Manual mode
    Yes. Flash Exposure Compensation in ETTL (+ or – x# stops) and Power Output (Full 1/1, Half ˝, etc.) in manual flash mode.

    Quote Originally Posted by casper View Post
    but each affects the other?
    I’m not sure what you are asking with this part. If you are using one light, you will have it in either ETTL or Manual.

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    Re: first shots with Speedlite

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Noel,

    As a rule, try to avoid ceiling bounces (in a forward direction) - it'll usually give you what we call "office lighting" where you'll have dark eyes and other unflattering characteristics. Every situation is different, but you can often get better light either bouncing from behind or off a side wall.
    And I tend to get problems with correct positioning of the bounce angle.

    Not so bad when shooting a static subject, particularly when using a tripod as well, because you have chance to check the results and make adjustments.

    But I have had too many failures with quick action shots, for example at a party, when my bounce angle has actually put my flash behind the subject!

    However, for odd subjects like your scene it can be a good idea.

    Shooting direct in situations like this can risk having too much exposure on the foreground.

    If shooting for bounce, and you have time to experiment, try using the flash unit in manual mode (not ETTL) and manually varying the flash output.

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    Re: first shots with Speedlite

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    Shooting direct in situations like this can risk having too much exposure on the foreground.
    A good trick to mitigate that is to manually zoom the flash head to a longer focal length.

  19. #19

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    Re: first shots with Speedlite

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    But I have had too many failures with quick action shots, for example at a party, when my bounce angle has actually put my flash behind the subject!
    I think folks need to keep in mind that even direct flash can still work OK in these situations (subject to backgrounds). Here's a no-flash/direct-flash I shot of my daughter a few days ago ...

    first shots with Speedlite

    first shots with Speedlite

  20. #20
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    Re: first shots with Speedlite

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    I think folks need to keep in mind that even direct flash can still work OK in these situations (subject to backgrounds). Here's a no-flash/direct-flash I shot of my daughter a few days ago ...
    I've had pretty decent luck using a bracket and a diffuser (Lightsphere) for run & gun. And in bad ambient situations. While that couldn't really be called direct flash in the strictest sense, the flash was aimed directly toward the subject.

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