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Thread: How to meter in the dark?

  1. #1

    Default How to meter in the dark?

    I intend to shoot 1 flash off camera in total darkness like this http://www.flickr.com/photos/captain...7600670209319/

    I am using film camera.

    1) Nikon F60
    2) SB-28
    3) 50mm F1.4

    (A) Camera Aperture F1.4, Camera and Flash ISO100
    Let's say, i set aperture F1.4 and shutter speed 1/60 (focal length). I use manual mode and centre weighted metering(only the face). The metering indicates that it is 5 stops less from the middle(18% grey). Can I adjust the flash aperture to F8(subject within flash distance) to compensate for the 5 stops. Will this work?

    (B) Camera and Flash Aperture F1.4, Camera ISO100 and Flash ISO 3200
    The meter shows 5 stops below middle (18% grey). Will increase in flash ISO from 100 to 3200 compensate for the 5 stops?

    Please advise me. Thank you.
    Last edited by CasualSnaper; 6th February 2008 at 03:55 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member zac08's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to meter in the dark?

    Quote Originally Posted by CasualSnaper View Post
    I intend to shoot 1 flash off camera in total darkness like this http://www.flickr.com/photos/captain...7600670209319/

    I am using film camera.

    1) Nikon F60
    2) SB-28
    3) 50mm F1.4

    (A) Camera Aperture F1.4, Camera and Flash ISO100
    Let's say, i set aperture F1.4 and shutter speed 1/60 (focal length). I use manual mode and centre weighted metering(only the face). The metering indicates that it is 5 stops less from the middle(18% grey). Can I adjust the flash aperture to F8(subject within flash distance) to compensate for the 5 stops. Will this work?

    (B) Camera and Flash Aperture F1.4, Camera ISO100 and Flash ISO 3200
    The meter shows 5 stops below middle (18% grey). Will increase in flash ISO from 100 to 3200 compensate for the 5 stops?

    Please advise me. Thank you.
    In the first place, such photography is done in studios with a light meter and a pre-set light source.

    Generally, we would work with a fixed shutter speed of say 1/125 (to reduce handshake) and a ISO value of about 100. Then we would set the light's intensity to the desired aperture, mebbe about f5.6 or f8

    That done, you would be able to shoot such shots.

    With your flash, you would need to set it at the correct distance, meter it correctly and use the correct f stop in the camera as well. I am not very good with manual settings but I guess you can try these parameters (which I got from my flash)

    M 1/4
    ISO 100
    distance 2.8m
    50mm f8

    Michael Lim
    My Flickr Site

  3. #3
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to meter in the dark?

    how do you use your camera to meter flash? are you shooting with flash on ttl mode or manual?

    total darkness and low key set up is totally two different things.

    total darkness is you can't even see you subject, how are you gonne shoot it?

    the sample you attached is low key set up with studio flash, you can archive this using a hot shoe flash, however, it need lot of knowledge about lightings. it will not as simple as I write a few lines to explain to you.
    Shoot to Live, Live to Shoot
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  4. #4

    Default Re: How to meter in the dark?

    Thanks for your comment, zac08

    I don't have light meter. The metering i get from my camera is without flash. I don't have a studio, I intend to fix shutter speed at my maximum sync 1/125 (as per your comment) and step down my aperture to darken exposure to make the room dark. Using my 50mm, the minimum aperture is F16. With shutter speed at 1/125 and aperture at F16, I set the same F16 on the flash so long as the subject is within the flash range(mode Aperture) indicated in the back of SB-28. The flash should cut off once there is enough exposure. maybe (mode Aperture) will not give the desire result that i want. I would set Flash to (mode manual as per your comment), measure the distance between the flash and subject using autofocus. set that distance in the flash by adjusting the flash power.

    It seems that no metering is required or I cant meter at all? Because I cant preview my shots. I should bracket my shots. I will point my flash backwards and flash it against a piece of aluminium foil to soften the light from the flash. I think i should increase flash power when i bracket.

    Do you think it will work?

    Quote Originally Posted by zac08 View Post
    In the first place, such photography is done in studios with a light meter and a pre-set light source.

    Generally, we would work with a fixed shutter speed of say 1/125 (to reduce handshake) and a ISO value of about 100. Then we would set the light's intensity to the desired aperture, mebbe about f5.6 or f8

    That done, you would be able to shoot such shots.

    With your flash, you would need to set it at the correct distance, meter it correctly and use the correct f stop in the camera as well. I am not very good with manual settings but I guess you can try these parameters (which I got from my flash)

    M 1/4
    ISO 100
    distance 2.8m
    50mm f8


  5. #5

    Default Re: How to meter in the dark?

    Thanks for your comment.

    Just test fire my flash and look at my camera exposure. confined the metering in my camera cannot meter for flash.

    I read somewhere that TTL in low end SLR sucks. So TTL flash is out for me. I use manual on my camera and mode aperture on the flash because there will be not indication of flash underexposure at mode manual.

    My flash SB-28 helps to focus in total darkness. In TTL mode, the flash will fire red lines onto the subject. Focus is very fast even with 300mm F5.6 lens in F60 body. In other modes, my camera will emit a light to help focus, but it is slower than using the red lines.

    I can switch on the lights in my room at anytime if I need to.

    Low key or total darkness, so long I can achieve my goal, I will be happy.

    Quote Originally Posted by catchlights View Post
    how do you use your camera to meter flash? are you shooting with flash on ttl mode or manual?

    total darkness and low key set up is totally two different things.

    total darkness is you can't even see you subject, how are you gonne shoot it?

    the sample you attached is low key set up with studio flash, you can archive this using a hot shoe flash, however, it need lot of knowledge about lightings. it will not as simple as I write a few lines to explain to you.

  6. #6

    Default Re: How to meter in the dark?

    You do not require total darkness, just as long as the flash overpowers the ambient, it should be okay.
    With your camera in manual mode, adjust the exposure so that the ambient will come out dark/underexposed.
    With the flash in manual mode, set the ISO and aperture, and put it at the distance it tells you.
    Or if the flash is on camera, and you can't move back/forwards, you can adjust the ISO and aperture to another combination which gives the same underexposure for ambient.
    Please let me know if I am missing your point
    It is the camera, not the photographer.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member zac08's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to meter in the dark?

    You can't meter using a manual flash with a camera's metering system. It does not work that way. And I apologise for the error for my previous message as I was using a different flash (which would have a different guide number and differing power)

    What you can do is to shoot with minimal light (allowable for you to focus accurately) and using
    A mode for your camera (set it to f8) and TTL for your flash. You may wish to drop the flash ev for a result which would be similar to what you see as your example.

    Try shooting a roll and test for the results. Bracket accordingly.
    Michael Lim
    My Flickr Site

  8. #8

    Default Re: How to meter in the dark?

    you are spot on. in total darkness, i wont be able to see the subject expression.

    With shutter speed at 1/125, ambient will be lost. My prefered ambient shot usually is 1/30 to 1/2s for human subject at night.

    I agree with your approach. So really, no metering. Just make sure the subject in within flash range.

    Cheers
    Quote Originally Posted by adamadam View Post
    You do not require total darkness, just as long as the flash overpowers the ambient, it should be okay.
    With your camera in manual mode, adjust the exposure so that the ambient will come out dark/underexposed.
    With the flash in manual mode, set the ISO and aperture, and put it at the distance it tells you.
    Or if the flash is on camera, and you can't move back/forwards, you can adjust the ISO and aperture to another combination which gives the same underexposure for ambient.
    Please let me know if I am missing your point

  9. #9

    Default Re: How to meter in the dark?

    Ok, i will try your approach too. F8 for camera and TTL for flash.

    My low end camera will overexposure the subject with dark background.

    I dont even trust my F60 matrix metering.

    Thanks for your advice.

    happy CNY.

    Quote Originally Posted by zac08 View Post
    You can't meter using a manual flash with a camera's metering system. It does not work that way. And I apologise for the error for my previous message as I was using a different flash (which would have a different guide number and differing power)

    What you can do is to shoot with minimal light (allowable for you to focus accurately) and using
    A mode for your camera (set it to f8) and TTL for your flash. You may wish to drop the flash ev for a result which would be similar to what you see as your example.

    Try shooting a roll and test for the results. Bracket accordingly.

  10. #10
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to meter in the dark?

    after reread and reread you postings, I have no idea how to answer your questions, or any ways to help you with the set up you want.

    suggest you read more on basic photography, till you have better understanding, than explore on this subject again.
    Shoot to Live, Live to Shoot
    www.benjaminloo.com | iStock portfolio

  11. #11

    Default Re: How to meter in the dark?

    Quote Originally Posted by CasualSnaper View Post
    Thanks for your comment, zac08

    I don't have light meter. The metering i get from my camera is without flash. I don't have a studio, I intend to fix shutter speed at my maximum sync 1/125 (as per your comment) and step down my aperture to darken exposure to make the room dark. Using my 50mm, the minimum aperture is F16. With shutter speed at 1/125 and aperture at F16, I set the same F16 on the flash so long as the subject is within the flash range(mode Aperture) indicated in the back of SB-28. The flash should cut off once there is enough exposure. maybe (mode Aperture) will not give the desire result that i want. I would set Flash to (mode manual as per your comment), measure the distance between the flash and subject using autofocus. set that distance in the flash by adjusting the flash power.

    It seems that no metering is required or I cant meter at all? Because I cant preview my shots. I should bracket my shots. I will point my flash backwards and flash it against a piece of aluminium foil to soften the light from the flash. I think i should increase flash power when i bracket.

    Do you think it will work?
    Your camera can only give you ambient light metering. If you don't want anycontribution from the ambient light (which is probably the reason you're using a totally dark room, I suppose) then the shutter speed on the camera plays no effect but using a focal plane shutter, you will need to use the flash sync speed or slower.

    Putting ISO aside, the exposure will be determined by the aperture used, the power of the flash and the distance of the flash to the subject, assuming that the flash is the only light source.

  12. #12

    Default Re: How to meter in the dark?

    Quote Originally Posted by CasualSnaper View Post
    Ok, i will try your approach too. F8 for camera and TTL for flash.

    My low end camera will overexposure the subject with dark background.

    I dont even trust my F60 matrix metering.

    Thanks for your advice.

    happy CNY.
    Nikon's metering is usually quite accurate so you might want to try TTL flash. Also, check the minimum distance of the flash for the particular ISO and aperture settings. The minimum power that the flash can give may be more than what the exposure needs.

    Anyway, just ignore the camera metering unless you need to balance flash exposure with ambient light exposure.
    Last edited by lsisaxon; 15th February 2008 at 01:38 PM.

  13. #13

    Default Re: How to meter in the dark?

    Quote Originally Posted by CasualSnaper View Post
    you are spot on. in total darkness, i wont be able to see the subject expression.

    With shutter speed at 1/125, ambient will be lost. My prefered ambient shot usually is 1/30 to 1/2s for human subject at night.

    I agree with your approach. So really, no metering. Just make sure the subject in within flash range.

    Cheers
    Eh... So do you want or don't you want the ambient light exposure?

  14. #14
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to meter in the dark?

    Quote Originally Posted by lsisaxon View Post
    Eh... So do you want or don't you want the ambient light exposure?
    that's the part that I don't understand too....
    Shoot to Live, Live to Shoot
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  15. #15

    Default Re: How to meter in the dark?

    Quote Originally Posted by catchlights View Post
    that's the part that I don't understand too....
    Yeah.. but if it's a totally dark room.. I think I'd have to say good luck for the ambient light exposure...

  16. #16

    Default Re: How to meter in the dark?

    There isn't even a need to shoot in total darkness. What for when you've got flash? Even switching a table lamp won't affect the shot.

  17. #17

    Default Re: How to meter in the dark?

    Quote Originally Posted by xray View Post
    There isn't even a need to shoot in total darkness. What for when you've got flash? Even switching a table lamp won't affect the shot.
    Exactly!

  18. #18

    Default Re: How to meter in the dark?

    Thanks isisaxon and xray for your advice.


    dark room effect
    ~~~~~~~~~~
    shutter speed : 1/125 (len 105mm(camera shake), 1/125 maximum sync)
    aperture : any (depending how dark i want it to be and whether my SB-28 has enough power to shoot at lower aperture)
    flash distance : flash to subject distance shorter than subject to background will make background dimmer


    outdoor(night scenery)
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    shutter speed : 1/30 (len 24mm)


    sorry for the confusion.

  19. #19
    Senior Member zac08's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to meter in the dark?

    Quote Originally Posted by xray View Post
    There isn't even a need to shoot in total darkness. What for when you've got flash? Even switching a table lamp won't affect the shot.
    Quote Originally Posted by lsisaxon View Post
    Exactly!
    Well, it will affect if the subject is a shiny and reflective object.
    Michael Lim
    My Flickr Site

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