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Subject: "Very Basic Flash Question, please help" Previous topic | Next topic
Lycale Silver Member Nikonian since 27th Jul 2012Wed 05-Dec-12 03:30 AM
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"Very Basic Flash Question, please help"


US
          

I am trying to understand flash photography. I use a D800 with an SB600 flash and TTL mode. 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 mode on the D800 as Van Niekirk recommends. Outside in the sun, I can easily get the meter to "zero out" in the center, indicating a perfect exposure. (Hogan says that you then MIGHT want to underexpose 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 perfect exposure --zero at the center on the meter bar--using manual exposure indoors where there is much less light, I can't get the exposure meter to go to zero, even with a wide-open aperture. The camera ALWAYS indicates underexposure 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 am afraid to raise the ISO too high because of noise. 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 the meter bar to go to zero to indicate a perfect exposure.

Finally, I often have to take the photo handheld since I am following around active children. Thanks so much in advance for helping me. This is my first post to Nikonians, and I feel a little embarrassed asking for help with such an elementary issue.

Lynn

Dec 04, 2012 at 08:58 PM

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Replies to this topic
Subject Author Message Date ID
Reply message RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help
SheriB Silver Member
05th Dec 2012
1
Reply message RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help
Lycale Silver Member
05th Dec 2012
2
     Reply message RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help
quenton8 Silver Member
05th Dec 2012
4
          Reply message RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help
Lycale Silver Member
05th Dec 2012
5
Reply message RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help
Arkayem Moderator
06th Dec 2012
6
Reply message RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help
Lycale Silver Member
06th Dec 2012
9
Reply message RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help
RimaB
06th Dec 2012
7
Reply message RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help
RimaB
06th Dec 2012
8
     Reply message RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help
Lycale Silver Member
06th Dec 2012
10
     Reply message RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help
Arkayem Moderator
06th Dec 2012
11
          Reply message RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help
RimaB
09th Dec 2012
14
Reply message RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help
Kropotkin
08th Dec 2012
12
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Tinkers Realm
08th Dec 2012
13
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RimaB
09th Dec 2012
15
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Kropotkin
10th Dec 2012
17
Reply message RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help
piniongear
10th Dec 2012
16

SheriB Silver Member Awarded for sharing her exceptional images and details of rural farm life. Nikonian since 11th Sep 2010Wed 05-Dec-12 10:28 AM
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#1. "RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help"
In response to Reply # 0


US
          

"using manual exposure indoors where there is much less light, I can't get the exposure meter to go to zero, even with a wide-open aperture. The camera ALWAYS indicates underexposure and requires flash. Then I have no idea what to do to get a proper ambient light exposure"

Are you also manually adjusting your ISO or letting the camera choose?

Sheri Becker

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Lycale Silver Member Nikonian since 27th Jul 2012Wed 05-Dec-12 08:11 PM
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#2. "RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help"
In response to Reply # 1


US
          

>"using manual exposure indoors where there is much less
>light, I can't get the exposure meter to go to zero, even with
>a wide-open aperture. The camera ALWAYS indicates
>underexposure and requires flash. Then I have no idea what to
>do to get a proper ambient light exposure"
>
>Are you also manually adjusting your ISO or letting the camera
>choose?

I am manually adjusting the ISO. The only lights in the room are ceiling track lights and a few ceiling pot lights. I have to handhold the D800 ( a special gift for me) because I am trying to photograph active children . I guess I could keep raising the ISO , but do I then have to worry about introducing too much noise? Is it really necessary to get a zero camera meter reading, using manual exposure mode, when you will be using TTL flash?

Thank you so much for responding. I really appreciate it.

Lynn

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quenton8 Silver Member Awarded for bringing his experience to the Nikonians community helping members with printing and the use of post-processing software from the perspective of an IT professional. Nikonian since 11th Apr 2010Wed 05-Dec-12 08:46 PM
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#4. "RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help"
In response to Reply # 3


Toronto, CA
          

If you could get the meter to zero-out without a very high ISO or very long shutter, you would not need flash.

As a start, pick a shutter speed (1/60 maybe) and an aperture that works with the flash using the guide number (if you really want to be 100% manual) and see what the result is -- its free! no film to use-up!

From there, think about the aperture (wide to get narrow depth-of-field etc). Then think about the shutter speed -- if its not midnight with no lights, you can use some of the ambient light to soften the flash, so if you have a wide aperture, then a reasonable shutter will have you using some of the ambient light.

My final thought? Take lots of shots with varying settings and see what you get and what you like, then try to remember how you got them

----
Dennis Smith.

  

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Lycale Silver Member Nikonian since 27th Jul 2012Wed 05-Dec-12 10:18 PM
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#5. "RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help"
In response to Reply # 4


US
          

Thank you so, so much for your help. I will have to learn to use manual flash.

Lynn

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberThu 06-Dec-12 01:47 PM
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#6. "RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help"
In response to Reply # 0


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>I am trying to understand flash photography. I use a D800
>with an SB600 flash and TTL mode. 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 mode on the D800 as Van Niekirk recommends. Outside
>in the sun, I can easily get the meter to "zero out"
>in the center, indicating a perfect exposure. (Hogan says that
>you then MIGHT want to underexpose 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 perfect exposure
>--zero at the center on the meter bar--using manual exposure
>indoors where there is much less light, I can't get the
>exposure meter to go to zero, even with a wide-open aperture.
>The camera ALWAYS indicates underexposure 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 am afraid to raise
>the ISO too high because of noise. 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 the meter bar to
>go to zero to indicate a perfect exposure.
>
>Finally, I often have to take the photo handheld since I am
>following around active children. Thanks so much in advance
>for helping me. This is my first post to Nikonians, and I
>feel a little embarrassed asking for help with such an
>elementary issue.

Hi Lynn,

To learn how to use your on-camera flash requires some very basic understanding, first, before you jump into it. You sound like an ideal candidate to read my blog on CLS. I have written very basic info on how to use your Nikon flash on-camera. I recommend you read all 19 articles in order starting here:
http://nikonclspracticalguide.blogspot.com/2008/01/nikon-flash-two-separate-metering.html

Please let us know how you are getting along with this.

Russ
Retired Professional Photographer
Nikonian Moderator
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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Lycale Silver Member Nikonian since 27th Jul 2012Thu 06-Dec-12 06:20 PM
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#9. "RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help"
In response to Reply # 6


US
          

You have given me a wealth of information! I can't thank you enough.

Lynn

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RimaB Registered since 01st Oct 2011Thu 06-Dec-12 04:11 PM
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#7. "RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help"
In response to Reply # 0


New York, US
          

Lynn,
I'm so glad you posted this question. There is never a cause to be embarrassed for asking a question - you know that right? We are all always learning, even if we have been shooting forever. I'm anxious to hear all the answers to your question. I am a natural light photographer and am really pushing myself to use OCF and my SB600 & SB 800. So away we go.

Cheers,
Rima

  

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RimaB Registered since 01st Oct 2011Thu 06-Dec-12 04:17 PM
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#8. "RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help"
In response to Reply # 7


New York, US
          

Lynn,

About noise & your ISO settings: With the D800 you have very little to worry about with a high ISO. You can certainly shoot at 1600. My D90 gives me good capture at 800. I would recommend you play around with the ISO settings. In the same lighting conditions, start test shots at 400 and work your way up. I'll bet that even at 3200 you will get good shots if you are paying attention to focus & focal length.

Good luck.
Rima

  

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Lycale Silver Member Nikonian since 27th Jul 2012Thu 06-Dec-12 06:22 PM
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#10. "RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help"
In response to Reply # 8


US
          

Thank you so much for your kindness and your very thoughtful answer. I appreciate your advice.

Lynn

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberThu 06-Dec-12 09:03 PM
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#11. "RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help"
In response to Reply # 8
Thu 06-Dec-12 09:04 PM by Arkayem

Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>Lynn,
>
>About noise & your ISO settings: With the D800 you have
>very little to worry about with a high ISO. You can certainly
>shoot at 1600. My D90 gives me good capture at 800. I would
>recommend you play around with the ISO settings. In the same
>lighting conditions, start test shots at 400 and work your way
>up. I'll bet that even at 3200 you will get good shots if
>you are paying attention to focus & focal length.
>
>Good luck.
>Rima

I would recommend no higher than ISO 800 with the SB600 flash. The problem is that if you set a really high ISO, the SB600 (and SB800) don't set their power low enough for the close shots, because they don't get metered properly at ISO's above about 1000.

When I was shooting weddings for a living, I used ISO 400 for all my indoor shots, with the camera in Manual mode, flash in regular TTL, and started with f/4 and 1/80th. Then, I would adjust my shutter to set the background brightness I wanted.

Occassionally, for some of the long distance shots, especially outdoors, I would increase the ISO up to 3200 with my SB800 on my D3 and D800, and that worked just fine. But close shots were not normally good at high ISO.

Russ
Retired Professional Photographer
Nikonian Moderator
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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RimaB Registered since 01st Oct 2011Sun 09-Dec-12 06:08 AM
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#14. "RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help"
In response to Reply # 11


New York, US
          

Thanks for this info Russ. As usual I learned something new. Yay!! Really helpful post.

Best,
Rima

  

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Kropotkin Registered since 02nd Dec 2012Sat 08-Dec-12 02:00 PM
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#12. "RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help"
In response to Reply # 0


Bicester, GB
          

Hi Lynn

Yes; the camera is telling you that it cannot expose for the background without flash. There is no way you are going to be able to light the whole room. Focus on your subject and getting them properly exposed. I would do it in manual mode and take the following approach:

If they are fast-moving kids I would start perhaps with 125s otherwise you may get motion blur.

Then I would think about aperture. To avoid depth of field problems (I mean areas out of focus that you wanted in focus) I would set to F8 or F5.6 but probably F8.

Take a shot without flash and see what it looks like. That's your basic ambient light contribution. It will probably look a bit underexposed, maybe a lot if there is no natural lighting.

Then use TTL mode on the flash. That will correctly expose the subject. If it under-exposes move closer - don't change the aperture. (I learned this recently by mistake - I chose too wide an aperture and some of my subjects were not in focus). To allow for this I would shoot with quite a wide lens.

If the subject is not in the centre of the frame you will have to use flash lock. If you want to keep it simple just keep your subject in the centre of the frame.

--Justin Wyllie

  

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Tinkers Realm Registered since 24th Feb 2011Sat 08-Dec-12 03:22 PM
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#13. "RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help"
In response to Reply # 12


Pacific Wonderland!, US
          

Nice clear easy to understand process Justin- loved reading!!!

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.



www.TinkersRealm.com

  

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RimaB Registered since 01st Oct 2011Sun 09-Dec-12 04:30 PM
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#15. "RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help"
In response to Reply # 12


New York, US
          

Hi Justin,

I agree with Lynn that this is just such a nice, clear explanation of using flash indoors. Thanks so much. I have a D90. Are you familiar with the settings for flash lock on that camera? I am only familiar with the focus lock button.

Thanks,
Rima

  

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Kropotkin Registered since 02nd Dec 2012Mon 10-Dec-12 09:38 PM
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#17. "RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help"
In response to Reply # 15
Mon 10-Dec-12 09:39 PM by Kropotkin

Bicester, GB
          

Hi Rima

Thanks for the compliments!

On my D7000 I assigned the function button to flash lock. (Custom Settings Menu... Controls... f3). The function button on the D7000 is on the left hand side of the lens mount, looking at the camera.

The reason to use it is in TTL mode the exposure is always taken in the centre of the frame. So; if the subject is not in the centre the subject will not be correctly exposed by the TTL system. (TTL-BL is different but for Lynn's case, shooting indoors TTL is probably the right choice anyway. Russell has an excellent explanation of all this in his Nikon Practical Guide; that's where I learned it from; http://tinyurl.com/cz5y3qs).

Flash lock is just like AE lock. You point the camera at the subject. Press the function button. A pre-flash fires and measures exposure. Re-compose. Shoot. The flash will expose for the off-centre subject.

Take care to press the function button again to cancel flash lock as it stays on until you do. There is a little icon to indicate that it is on.

Hope that helps.

I'll keep working on my writing style

--J

  

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piniongear Registered since 29th Jul 2006Mon 10-Dec-12 09:21 PM
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#16. "RE: Very Basic Flash Question, please help"
In response to Reply # 0
Mon 10-Dec-12 09:22 PM by piniongear

Houston Texas, US
          

Open your D800 manual to the section dealing with 'Auto FP High-Speed Sync.'
You can set your D800 to Auto FP.
Under 'Menu' go to 'Custom Setting Menu'
Choose 'e-Bracketing Flash'
Choose 'e-Flash sync speed'
Choose '1/320 (AUTO FP)
Push the menu button a couple of times or punch 'OK' to exit the menu.

At this point you have instructed your flash to go off in Auto FP whenever your camera shutter speed is greater than 1/250 second.
At 1/250 or slower shutter speed the flash will be normal.

In the Auto FP mode the flash will go off up to the maximum shutter speed of 1/8000 second and give you a photo. That shutter speed will freeze a fan blade!

I suggest you set up your camera and flash as described above and then set the camera mode to 'Shutter Priority' and dial in a speed of 1/640 of a second.
Aim the camera at a fast moving object, be it a child or a dog and take the picture.
The flash will fire 3 short flashes to obtain auto focus for the camera and then will fire the flash.
The shutter speed of 1/640 second will stop action of most moving items.If it does not, crank the speed up to 1/1000 second.

What do you get?
Looking at the 'Historgram' where is the 'white mountain' positioned with regards to the left and right side of the frame"
Centered will result in a good pic.
To the left will be darker and to the right will be lighter.
The 'Historgram' will always tell you if the exposure is acceptable or not and I use that as my guide with every shot.

I leave my setting at Auto FP and forget it. The only trade off is the flash range shortens as the shutter speed goes up.
Give this a try.
pg

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