"Correct" Manual Flash Technique? Help help!


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Aug 14, 2007
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Nagano, Japan
#1
Hi CSers,

while there are numerous information on the net, Stobists, Lighting Essentials, Photonotes, etc giving extensive information about off shoe manual flash, I still can't quite figure out the "correct" or rather appropriate technique. Would appreciate constructive only comments, thanks.

To make it as clear as possible, I know the GN conversion rule, sunny 16 rule, light fall off, inverse sq laws, etc. I just need to understand the appropriate work flow and a little insight on the power ratio VS aperture and distance in manipulating the flash.

My main doubts are

1. Do I use the aperture (FLASH) and distance OR do I use the power ratio to manipulate the strength of the flash?
2. Do I set the power ratio at the mid point first (1/8) and then increase and decrease like FEC?

Please advise which option is correct?

(Option A)

1. Meter the ambience off the CAMERA (not exceeding the X sync)
2. Input the exact SAME settings (F stop, ISO) metered off the CAMERA into the FLASH,
3. Do the GN conversion and place the flash at the corresponding distance.
4. Adjust the flash by manipulating the F stop, ISO on the FLASH to get the desired effect.

(Option B)

1. Meter the ambience off the CAMERA (not exceeding the X sync)
2. Input the exact SAME settings (F stop, ISO) metered off the CAMERA into the FLASH,
3. Adjust the power ratio (1/1, 1/2, 1/4, etc) to get the desired effect.

(Option C)

1. Set the CAMERA to the highest sync speed.
2. Work downwards from the X sync until I get the desired shutter and aperture.
3. Input the exact SAME settings (F stop, ISO) metered off the CAMERA into the FLASH,
4. Do the GN conversion and place the flash at the corresponding distance.
5. Adjust the flash by manipulating the F stop, ISO on the FLASH to get the desired effect.

(Option D)

1. Set the CAMERA to the highest sync speed.
2. Work downwards from the X sync until I get the desired shutter and aperture.
3. Input the exact SAME settings (F stop, ISO) metered off the CAMERA into the FLASH,
4. Adjust the power ratio (1/1, 1/2, 1/4, etc) to get the desired effect.

(Option E)

1. Set the CAMERA to the highest sync speed.
2. Work downwards from the X sync until I get the desired shutter and aperture.
3. Set the flash at the middle power ratio (1/8, etc).
4. Input the exact SAME settings (F stop, ISO) metered off the CAMERA into the FLASH,
5. Adjust the power ratio either up or down to get the desired effect.

:) Thank you :)
 

Last edited:

catchlights

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Sep 27, 2004
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#3
so are you intent to set up a flash with strong ambient light?

if you intent to let ambient light to be the main light, just meter for the main light, set your flash one or two stops lower than main light will do. how much is depends on your taste

if you intent to let flash as main light, than exposure for the main light, let the ambient one or two stops lower than your flash, how much is depends on your taste.

on the flash manual mode, there are nothing to set, except for power output.
you can vari the distance between the flash and your subject to change the flash output, however this will change the coverage and the effect of the flash too.
 

ortega

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Nov 2, 2004
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#5
with the light meter, you don't need to do all that calculations

trigger flash and meter the "correct" aperture to use
then balance with the ambient light

to adjust intensity, just move the flash around
 

Aug 14, 2007
83
0
0
Nagano, Japan
#6
buy yourself a light meter
Maybe when I can get the fundamentals right. :)

so are you intent to set up a flash with strong ambient light?

if you intent to let ambient light to be the main light, just meter for the main light, set your flash one or two stops lower than main light will do. how much is depends on your taste

if you intent to let flash as main light, than exposure for the main light, let the ambient one or two stops lower than your flash, how much is depends on your taste.

on the flash manual mode, there are nothing to set, except for power output.
you can vari the distance between the flash and your subject to change the flash output, however this will change the coverage and the effect of the flash too.
When you say set your flash, do you mean setting the power output to 1/8 then increase or decrease it from there? Or setting it at 1/1 and then reducing the power (or changing the distance)?

"Nothing to set" meaning input the exact settings metered off the CAMERA, leave it as it is and manipulate the power ratio?

Thanks :)
 

catchlights

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Sep 27, 2004
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#7
Maybe when I can get the fundamentals right. :)



When you say set your flash, do you mean setting the power output to 1/8 then increase or decrease it from there? Or setting it at 1/1 and then reducing the power (or changing the distance)?
in whatever way works for you.

"Nothing to set" meaning input the exact settings metered off the CAMERA, leave it as it is and manipulate the power ratio?

Thanks :)
in pure manual mode, you need not to input ISO or Aperture. I'm not familiar with Canon flash system, however, for Nikon, there is a Manual, GN mode, blah blah blah... but I use manual mode mostly for off camera flash, occasionally CLS from multiple flash
 

Aug 14, 2007
83
0
0
Nagano, Japan
#8
Maybe when I can get the fundamentals right. :)



When you say set your flash, do you mean setting the power output to 1/8 then increase or decrease it from there? Or setting it at 1/1 and then reducing the power (or changing the distance)?
in whatever way works for you.

in pure manual mode, you need not to input ISO or Aperture. I'm not familiar with Canon flash system, however, for Nikon, there is a Manual, GN mode, blah blah blah... but I use manual mode mostly for off camera flash, occasionally CLS from multiple flash
Oh ok thanks...so it's basically adjusting the power ratio?
 

J-Chan

Senior Member
Sep 21, 2005
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#9
Maybe when I can get the fundamentals right. :)



When you say set your flash, do you mean setting the power output to 1/8 then increase or decrease it from there? Or setting it at 1/1 and then reducing the power (or changing the distance)?

Oh ok thanks...so it's basically adjusting the power ratio?
There's no real "correct" option, get your fundamentals right and apply them as you see fit.. Adjusting aperture or ISO increases both your ambient and flash exposures, if you just adjust your flash power or flash subject dist or some light modifier, only your flash exposure gets affected, while adjusting your shutter speed affects only your ambient..

For example, if you want to balance your flash with ambient, it'll be best to start with a correct ambient exposure and work from there.. Or if you want to kill the ambient completely, max sync small aperture low ISO, and just focus on your flash exposure..
 

Aug 14, 2007
83
0
0
Nagano, Japan
#10
There's no real "correct" option, get your fundamentals right and apply them as you see fit.. Adjusting aperture or ISO increases both your ambient and flash exposures, if you just adjust your flash power or flash subject dist or some light modifier, only your flash exposure gets affected, while adjusting your shutter speed affects only your ambient..

For example, if you want to balance your flash with ambient, it'll be best to start with a correct ambient exposure and work from there.. Or if you want to kill the ambient completely, max sync small aperture low ISO, and just focus on your flash exposure..
"Adjusting aperture and ISO" is on the camera itself right? So adjusting aperture and ISO on the flash does not affect ambience since it's controlled by the camera's shutter right? :)

"correct ambient exposure" meaning inputting ambience metered off the camera (aperture and ISO) exactly the same into the flash? :)
 

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