The Art of the Manual Flash

Started Jun 9, 2013 | Discussions thread
Zee Char
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Re: The Art of the Manual Flash
In reply to NYCphotoman, Jun 10, 2013

NYCphotoman wrote:

I want to get away from TTL flash.

CraigBennett wrote:

NYCphotoman wrote:

Shot a gig last night with Auto and TTL mode and it didnt quite work the way I expected it.  Usually these modes work great for me, but this was a large dining room with high ceilings and it fooled the sensor.  I didnt have time to fool with the flash.

So Im going to start getting back to manual flash photography.  This is where you set the flash or flashes to one specific power and control the exposure with the camera settings (ISO, shutter speed, aperture).  You monitor the exposure with the LCD screen and on Canons they have this highlight detection.

What are the techniques you use for manual flash and event photography?

Nikon has a good flash control system, not familiar with Canon's, but I'm sure it is similar.

I shot an event last night in a fairly large hall and used two flashes in room set at manual, from 1/32 to 1/16 power and used my on camera flash set for TTL, used it for fill.    Worked great for me.  camera on manual,  shutter at 1/125 shutter (no ambient to speak of), aperture set to what I wanted. I relied on flashes for the exposure.

I never use Auto for my remote flashes, it varies too much.  Manual setting is the most stable.  TTL on camera flash or using an assistant for light pole works well for fill, just dial down or up the flash exposure compensation for the fill you want.

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IMO you will have a have a tough time with that. If you are standing in the same one spot and your subjects are always the same distance to you then manual will be a perfect option. However this does not happen at event event photography so you will have to shoot and chimp just like using TTL or learn how to use the guide numbers and be continually calculating. Great for direct flash but will not help you with bouncing. Guide numbers is what the photogs used in the days of film and no TTL.

Unfortunately this is the way of things. I will always choose manual flash if I can but go with TTL when shooting in a constantly changing environment. This requires chimping and quick FEC adjustments to fine tune. I use whites and my histogram to hit the correct exposure when white is available. Having the blinkies on as well really helps in case something is brighter in the background, etc.

TTL is a great tool but just like your camera's light meter (which has nothing to do with flash) needs some fine tuning depending on the conditions. I've stopped worrying about long ago. I judge the scene, set the FEC and fine tune as I go.

Here are a few things that can help you.

http://super.nova.org/DPR/Histogram/

http://super.nova.org/DPR/WhiteTowelRatios/

http://neilvn.com/tangents/using-the-histogram-to-determine-exposure/

My flash guru. Above link is from this site.

http://neilvn.com/tangents/

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