Flash TTL while shooting subjects dressed all in dark gray.

Started Sep 27, 2010 | Discussions
David Wilkie
Junior MemberPosts: 40
Like?
Flash TTL while shooting subjects dressed all in dark gray.
Sep 27, 2010

I was taking group photos of a high school marching band. The small groups were all dressed in black pants and dark gray hoodies (hooded sweat shirts) while posing together on a football field at night (the field was lit via stadium lights).

The flash made all of faces way over exposed, but everything else was exposed perfectly. The cause, I assume, was due to the abundance of dark gray causing a complete lack of reflected light back to the camera. I was able to post process the shots (faces) and salvaged most of the pictures.

Since I am pretty new at this, I guess I need more experience using the flash without TTL. I am using a Nikon d90 with SB600.

ANY SUGGESTIONS on exposure settings for the next time I try something like this again? I do not have a light/flash meter. Should I use the camera to meter the scene THEN monkey with the flash in manual power?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. THANKS

Quantum Help
Senior MemberPosts: 1,666Gear list
Like?
Re: Flash TTL while shooting subjects dressed all in dark gray.
In reply to David Wilkie, Sep 27, 2010

You are correct in assuming that all the dark tones fooled the camera. You best bet, when in either vary darm, or very light situations, is to use the flash in manual mode. This way, it is powered for a specific distance and will give you repeatable shots.

 Quantum Help's gear list:Quantum Help's gear list
Nikon D90 Nikon D1X Nikon D200 Nikon D300S Nikon AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4D ED-IF +5 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
UKphotographers
Veteran MemberPosts: 3,929
Like?
Re: Flash TTL while shooting subjects dressed all in dark gray.
In reply to David Wilkie, Sep 27, 2010

Using your current equipment, setting a manual shutterspeed and your flash to TTL-BL will give you a better result. Full manual would be preferred, but TTL-BL should do a good job.

Have a look here:

http://desmonddowns-ttlblflash.blogspot.com/2010/03/incorrect-flash-information-in-books.html

-- hide signature --

Ian.

Samples of work: http://www.AccoladePhotography.co.uk
Weddings: http://www.AccoladeWeddings.com
Events: http://www.OfficialPhotographer.com

Theres only one sun. Why do I need more than one light to get a natural result?

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
David Wilkie
Junior MemberPosts: 40
Like?
Re: Flash TTL while shooting subjects dressed all in dark gray.
In reply to David Wilkie, Sep 27, 2010

Thanks folks. I'll play with the TTL-BL and manual.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Shorthand
Senior MemberPosts: 2,972Gear list
Like?
Re: Flash TTL while shooting subjects dressed all in dark gray.
In reply to David Wilkie, Sep 27, 2010

I agree with the above posters that with a static setup like you describe that you're best just using manual flash and manual exposure settings. As mentioned above, if the distance from flash to subject is fixed, then you are much better off doing it "by hand" than trying to tell the camera what the grey tone is.

However, for dark objects that you're capturing on the fly and can't measure the distance to, I make sure that the TTL metering is set to "Average" instead of "Evaluative":

(I actually have better exmaples but not handy at the moment.)

Flash exposure Lock (FEL) on the Canon side is another solution.

I do wish there were some way to get a readout of the level at which your flash fired without an external light meter or to lock in the flash exposure for longer than a button press.

 Shorthand's gear list:Shorthand's gear list
Sony RX100 Canon EOS 300D Canon EOS 450D Canon EOS 500D Canon EOS 6D +9 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
mvrk2010
Regular MemberPosts: 112
Like?
Re: Flash TTL while shooting subjects dressed all in dark gray.
In reply to Quantum Help, Sep 27, 2010

A number of folks prefer to use flash set to manual for exposure consistency, which makes sense when flash-to-subject distance is relatively constant. However, for those who prefer to use manual flash even in faster paced shooting situations like capturing the dancing on a dance floor, what steps do you take to ensure proper exposure with the flash (and camera) set to manual? Or is manual flash impractical in faster-paced shooting situations?

Quantum Help wrote:

You are correct in assuming that all the dark tones fooled the camera. You best bet, when in either vary darm, or very light situations, is to use the flash in manual mode. This way, it is powered for a specific distance and will give you repeatable shots.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Graystar
Veteran MemberPosts: 8,373
Like?
Re: Flash TTL while shooting subjects dressed all in dark gray.
In reply to David Wilkie, Sep 27, 2010

Personally I've always felt that the "manual" answer is no answer at all. That's basically saying, "keep taking sample images until it looks about right." Ya...there’s some valuable photography wherewithal! (NOT!)

In difficult scenes, spot metering is your friend. But it's a relationship that demands commitment. You must learn the basic exposure compensations for various subjects and scenes. Then expand on your list through experience (a photographer has to do this anyways, so you’re not learning anything special here.)

First you make an Exposure Compensation assessment and dial it in. Then you spot meter a face, and take your shot. Move your focus point if necessary. In Spot metering mode, the meter follows the focus point. So by moving the focus point up you can focus on, and meter, a face and get the right exposure. You should be able to get it right the first time.

Here's a list of EC values to get you started...
White snow scenes - +1.3 to +2.0
Very light skin (blond-blue-eyed type) - +0.7
Light skin - +0.3
Dark skin - -0.3 to -0.7
Black cat - -1.3
Bright reds - -0.3 to -0.7
You’ll figure more out as you go.

On Nikon cameras you can use the EC button for this function. EC will adjust the flash. On Canon cameras it doesn't. You'd need to use Flash EC.

When you put the camera in spot metering, the flash automatically goes into TTL mode (rather than TTL/BL.)

TTL/BL (used with Matrix metering) works well too. It will set the flash using the distance to the subject, which is kinda like using the flash Guide Number. You may still need to compensate if the clothing is very dark, as TTL/BL can be fooled like any mode in the camera (because they all use the same meters.)

.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
hotdog321
Veteran MemberPosts: 9,115
Like?
Re: Flash TTL while shooting subjects dressed all in dark gray.
In reply to David Wilkie, Sep 27, 2010

We all run across situations like this. Usually we only have time for automatic flash.

Shoot raw--you should be able to pull out the grays and shadows and bring down the white faces.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
UKphotographers
Veteran MemberPosts: 3,929
Like?
Re: Flash TTL while shooting subjects dressed all in dark gray.
In reply to Graystar, Sep 27, 2010

Graystar wrote:

Personally I've always felt that the "manual" answer is no answer at all. That's basically saying, "keep taking sample images until it looks about right." Ya...there’s some valuable photography wherewithal! (NOT!)

If you need to keep on taking sample images until it looks about right, then obviously you're nowhere near ready to use manual, so you would be better off just forgetting it.

So there's always TTL, which will average your exposure to grey like the OP already got, losing highlights, or theres TTL-BL which will factor in distance into the equation, retain your highlights and get you closer to a decent result without having to think about it.

-- hide signature --

Ian.

Samples of work: http://www.AccoladePhotography.co.uk
Weddings: http://www.AccoladeWeddings.com
Events: http://www.OfficialPhotographer.com

Theres only one sun. Why do I need more than one light to get a natural result?

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Shorthand
Senior MemberPosts: 2,972Gear list
Like?
Re: Flash TTL while shooting subjects dressed all in dark gray.
In reply to Graystar, Sep 28, 2010

I will add that -2 Ev is not enough for our black cats on Evaluative metering.

 Shorthand's gear list:Shorthand's gear list
Sony RX100 Canon EOS 300D Canon EOS 450D Canon EOS 500D Canon EOS 6D +9 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Graystar
Veteran MemberPosts: 8,373
Like?
Re: Flash TTL while shooting subjects dressed all in dark gray.
In reply to Shorthand, Sep 28, 2010

Shorthand wrote:

I will add that -2 Ev is not enough for our black cats on Evaluative metering.

Yes, that's right. That’s why I specified using Spot Metering mode in difficult scenes.

Evaluative (on Canon) and Matrix (on Nikon) have a kind of built-in exposure compensation. The metering algorithms are complex. You shouldn’t use EC with those modes. If the mode is failing you, then I think it’s better to get into another metering mode before applying EC.

.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
BAK
BAK
Forum ProPosts: 18,997
Like?
I doubt it.
In reply to David Wilkie, Sep 28, 2010

You wrote > all of faces way over exposed, but everything else was exposed perfectly

It'

s pretty much impossible to overexpose part of a shot and properly expose other parts of the shot when the lighting is pretty even.

The faces are, in eal life, lighter than the clothes -- if the faces are overexposed, so are the clothes, probably.

So your proper exposure would be to get faces and grey clothing both darker.

Dark subjects tend to fool the meter, and come out lighter than they really are. And in that frame, anything lighter than the dark objects will come out extra-light.

How you fix this varies by camera model (Nikons and Canons handle flash exposure comp and exposure comp differently)

BAK

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
EOS3User
Regular MemberPosts: 173
Like?
Re: Flash TTL while shooting subjects dressed all in dark gray.
In reply to David Wilkie, Sep 28, 2010

At the next job like this, rent a meter.
Then you'll buy your own. I'll guarantee it.
Chris.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads