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Questions, questions (sigh) about CLS

Betty L

Oklahoma City, US
103 posts

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Betty L Registered since 27th Aug 2012
Sun 11-Aug-13 04:26 PM | edited Sun 11-Aug-13 04:28 PM by Betty L

I have two Alien Bee studio lights and I think I will be selling these and going to the Nikon CLS for portraits.

I tried it for the first time a couple of days ago for a shoot of a baby. I am shooting with a Nikon D800. I used the pop-up flash as a commander, and set one SB800 as a slave, about 3 feet from where the baby would be. When I took test shots with an adult before starting with the baby, the exposure was too dark. I had to up the ISO to 500 to get a decent exposure, and even then usually had to adjust up in Photoshop.

I have wanted to go with CLS for several years, but I must admit my understanding of the SB800 or CLS is close to nothing. I find it harder to figure out than learning the many different Nikon cameras, from the first D70 through D200, D300, D7000 and now the D800.
Harder than photoshop, but then I bought Scott Kelby books that gave me a leg up.

I have 2 SB800s. One of them has a bit of melting on the front plastic part because I guess I fired it off too many times in succession once. It doesn't seem to affect the use of it, because that's what I used the other day.

I want to have at least 3 slaves. Is it best to use one of the SB800s on the camera to trigger the slaves, or is it best to use the onboard flash so I can use both of the SB800s as slaves?
And if the latter is best, then which other speedlight should I buy for the third slave? I'd like to use the 3rd one for a hair light.

In the past couple of days, I have poured over the SB800 manual, but darn it, manuals are hard for me. That's why I like Kelby's books, because he lays the instructions out in easy-to-understand steps. I can do steps!

I "think" I have gleaned this. If I have one slave (A) off to one side, and the other slave (B) to the other side, but want to use "B" with a lesser power, I have to have those two flashes in a different group. Is that correct?

Then, of course, is trying to figure out how to set them for the varying powers. Through the camera menu or through the speedlight menu which is a total nightmare for me. Do I use flash compensation? When I shoot birds TTL, I usually have the flash compensation set at anything from -1 to -1.3. I think when I looked at my slave the other day, in that mode the minus/plus button didn't work. But then I was so nervous who knows. All help and suggestions appreciated, please.
Here is one of the images I took. I will add that this image has a softening fill layer over it, to give that soft dreamy look to that sweet baby skin. I did brush that out of her eyes. Meet baby Adelyn, age 4 months 3 weeks.


Click on image to view larger version


Attachment#1 (jpg file)

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