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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 04 Mar 2007 (Sunday) 17:09
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Damn...Please HELP ME..FILL FLASH

 
xmacvicar
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Mar 04, 2007 17:09 |  #1

Hello Hello...

I am in need of serious help/debunking about fill flash. I have read ALOT on this - flash bible, cheat sheets, other various online articles...yet I am still having problems. I have a Rebel XTi and a Sigma Super Flash on top of the hotshoe.

Today was a cold, cloudy, wintery day. I was shooting in manual mode. My sync speed is 1/200th sec. I was told to (from numerous articles) to meter off the background, get it exposed properly, then just fill in the subject with flash to taste. You may need to use some FEC and EC to get things right; however, today that wasn't working at all. When I metered off the background, using a 70-200mm and Partial Metering, I was left with a SUPER dark background and the fill flash looked absolutely horrid. I am talking pure trash......yet when I metered off the subject (contrary to many articles i've read) the image is much more acceptable.

Example 1 -

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ƒ/16 - 1/200th sec.

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ƒ/6.3 - 1/200th sec.

It seems like when I use a wider aperture, the image is more acceptable - but more prone to blown out highlights (snow, etc.)....but WHAT if I want to keep everything sharp and stop down to ƒ/16 like the first image...are all my fill flashes gonna look like a point and shoot?

I am so friggin confused, please someone help me! hahah...

Dave

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Titus213
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Mar 04, 2007 17:46 |  #2

In your first image you say you metered for the background (in manual mode). That's the proper procedure - BUT - you have snow all over back there. Remember the camera wants to make it look like an 18% gray card and it succeeded. You have to intervene with snow (or pitch black) and apply some EC to the image. In the case of snow +1 to +2 or so should work. Your foreground subject is then exposed using flash and an appropriate amount of FEC.

In your second image you metered your subject which is a bit darker than the background and got a good exposure.

And if I got that wrong someone will correct me I'm sure.


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xmacvicar
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Mar 04, 2007 18:14 |  #3

Ok, so theoretically....I should still be able to shoot at say ƒ/16 (when there's no snow) and get the same results as the 2nd image? Or is this impossible due to the aperture opening and the stuck shutter speed at 1/200th second?

If I close the aperture opening (by stopping down) it is letting in less light and the same image (#2) can not be acheived at these apertures?

Confused


Bodies: Canon 40D & Grip, Canon 5D
Lenses: Canon 70-200 2.8L IS, Canon 24-70, Canon 50L 1.2, Canon 85 f/1.8, Sigma 50mm Macro
Flash: Canon 580ex II, Pocket Wizard Plus II (2)
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Curtis ­ N
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Mar 04, 2007 18:47 |  #4

The advice you tried to follow is good in general terms.

Remember, the background is just like any other ambient exposure. It's too far away for the flash to affect it. So when you meter that background, you need to use EC to account for abnormally bright or dark scenes, as Titus explained.

And just like any other ambient light image, the background exposure will be influenced by shutter speed, aperture and ISO. If you want to use f/16 (though I'm not sure why) you can slow down the shutter to get the background exposure you want. Keep in mind that smaller apertures require more flash power, and will limit your maximum distance and increase recycle times.


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xmacvicar
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Mar 04, 2007 18:49 |  #5

Curtis...

what if I want to take a wider landscape of people and I want to keep all things sharp, but lets say their backlit...I would need the flash to expose their faces and the ƒ/11 or ƒ/16 to keep it all sharp.....does that make sense?


Bodies: Canon 40D & Grip, Canon 5D
Lenses: Canon 70-200 2.8L IS, Canon 24-70, Canon 50L 1.2, Canon 85 f/1.8, Sigma 50mm Macro
Flash: Canon 580ex II, Pocket Wizard Plus II (2)
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Curtis ­ N
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Mar 04, 2007 19:13 |  #6

Yes, it makes sense to stop down the aperture if you want good DOF.

Be mindful of the realities of flash distance range. Not only will small apertures reduce the range as I mentioned, but wide zoom settings on the flash will reduce the range dramatically. You can experiment with this anywhere. Set your aperture at f/16, zoom the flash to 105mm, half-press the shutter button and look at the distance scale on the flash. Now zoom the flash to 28mm and check the distance again.

With these realities in mind, there are a few things you can do to optimize your flash. First, don't go overboard with the aperture. Play around with a DOF calculator (try the one in my sig) to figure out what your optimum aperture really is. With a relatively wide lens, f/8 will go a long way.

Second, manually zoom the flash head so it only covers your subjects. The Sigma flash doesn't account for the crop factor of your camera, so when it's zoomed to 70mm it will cover a 44m lens. Experiment by shooting a blank wall indoors while manually zooming the flash to see what you can get away with.

Finally, increasing the ISO to 200 or 400 will increase the flash range, but this will require a faster shutter speed to compensate, and you'll bump against the 1/200 limitation pretty quick.


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Titus213
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Mar 04, 2007 23:07 |  #7

Perhaps a look at the DOF calculator for your lenses will help with the f-stop issue. I don't think you need such a high f-stop to keep things sharp. The DOF calculator is here. (external link)


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Curtis ­ N
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Mar 04, 2007 23:22 |  #8

The general consensus among those who understand optics far better than me, is that 1.6x cameras are diffraction-limited around f/11.

What this means in real life is that when you stop down past f/11 to get better sharpness in the out-of-focus areas, you will actually get less sharpness in the in-focus areas due to diffraction.

This is all the more reason to do as Titus suggests and study the concept of DOF to determine what's really necessary. Stopping down further than you need to can create images that are worse instead of better.


"If you're not having fun, your pictures will reflect that." - Joe McNally
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Titus213
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Mar 05, 2007 16:01 |  #9

Something just occurred to me - your sync speed of 1/200 is your MAXIMUM sync speed. You can come down under that with no problem. Try 1/100 or even 1/60. That will allow your f-stop to go up a bit for DOF.


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xmacvicar
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Mar 05, 2007 18:10 |  #10

Ok awesome!!

Thanks guys for your clever and quick responses, much appreciated!


Bodies: Canon 40D & Grip, Canon 5D
Lenses: Canon 70-200 2.8L IS, Canon 24-70, Canon 50L 1.2, Canon 85 f/1.8, Sigma 50mm Macro
Flash: Canon 580ex II, Pocket Wizard Plus II (2)
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zacker
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Mar 05, 2007 18:27 |  #11

shutterspeed = controll ambient

Aperture = controll flash

Meter the BG as you would without the flash, then you need to figure out the flash to subject aperture, you may have to take a few test frames and chimp some but the more you do this the better youll get at nailing the right exposure within two or three (or less) shots!


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Damn...Please HELP ME..FILL FLASH
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