Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘TTL

Small Flash and The D800

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Nikon D800 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII | 200mm, 1/250 sec, f/4, ISO 100 | 9 image stitch

When Bridget and I work together on a shoot, we try to goof off as much as possible. Ok, I’m kidding, but there are times when I do point the camera in her direction during a gig, just for the fun of it. The above is a bokeh pano that started with a remote-triggered SB-900 providing some light on the wife’s lovely face. Manually setting the flash power to 1/64 got me the exposure I wanted, and keeping it at that power while shooting a total of 9 images made sure there wasn’t any exposure variance to deal with when stitching the photos together. The resulting file, after merging and cropping to taste, was over 100 megapixels!


Nikon D800 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII | 190mm, 1/250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 | single off camera SB-900 with dome diffuser camera left

As I become more and more acquainted with the D800, I keep discovering improvements over my D700 that I’m really loving. One big one for me is the way the camera’s TTL metering behaves with flash. Heavy backlighting used to confuse the TTL meter quite a bit with my D700, requiring that I either move to full manual or really work the camera and flash exposure comp dials to steer the system in the right direction. I relied on the D800′s TTL metering over the weekend for a series of photos using flash, including the one above, and the system very consistently gave me perfect exposures, even in tricky lighting situations that used to throw my previous systems. I haven’t had a chance to post on the topic yet, but high ISO files look great from this camera as well. So much for missing my D700 ;)

Written by Jonathan

May 9, 2012 at 9:17 pm

Fuji X100 : Intelligent Flash

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Fuji X100 | 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 800

You know those tiny and often useless flash units built into many smaller cameras or that pop out of the top of many DSLRs? The ones that many people totally avoid using because they seem to hurt more than help? The X100 has one of those. Here’s the thing though: I actually find it useful.

Sometimes you’re dealing with pretty crummy lighting and you need a small amount of fill, a kiss of light to hit your subject to keep them from being all shadowed up. Muah:

A few more examples of how well the fill flash works on this camera.

In these three image there was so much harsh sunlight (the sun was directly above us at this particular time of the day) that a straight shot without flash would have looked terrible. So I had my subjects look down, essentially shadowing their faces, and I popped some on camera light at them. Worked great for preserving detail in the background without completely silhouetting my subjects.

There is one problem you can run into however. You can see it in the image of the wifie above: Notice how her eyes and nose are lit by the flash, but there seems to be a loss of light from her nose down? That’s the accessory hood getting in the way:

I kind of light the spot light sort of look it gave to the image, but in most cases you’ll want to remove the X100′s lens hood (if you have one) before you use the flash.


Fuji X100 |  1/950 sec, f/2, ISO 400

I wrote a post a while back that covered the X100′s ability to sync with my SB-900 flashgun at crazy high shutter speeds. That high speed sync helps the camera’s tiny, relatively low-powered built-in flash as well, allowing you to shoot wide open and still light a heavily backlit subject with it, as seen in the example above.


Left: Fuji X100 | 1/30 sec, f/2, ISO 3200 || Right: Fuji X100 | 1/40 sec, f/2, ISO 3200

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t go out of my way to use that tiny little on-camera flash. Sometimes however, using it becomes the difference between getting a shot and not getting a shot. In that sort of situation, I’m pretty surprised at how easy it is to get natural results with the built-in flash. Low light portraits are a good example (above).

Ever use flash to take someone’s photo in a dark room or outside at night and get a super bright or even blown-out subject with a black hole for a background? Yuck. You can usually compensate by manually using a slower shutter speed to burn in some ambient while you mix your flash in to get a better image, or in the X100′s case, just turn the flash on and shoot.  Both of the low light shots above were taken in Aperture Priority Auto. All I did was turn the flash on and the camera did the rest, properly exposing my subject and balancing in the ambient (whatever little amount of ambient there was anyway).

Of course, human beings are not the only subjects the little flash can help you out with:


Fuji X100 | 1/750 sec, f/10, ISO 400

A little on-axis fill to lessen the harsh shadows on Bo Bear here. Also comes in handy for bringing a little more detail out of heavily shadowed areas of your frame. Check out the difference in detail, especially inside the shadowed area of the gas pump on the right, between the first image shot without flash, and the second with flash activated:


Fuji X100 | 1/340 sec, f/5, ISO 800 (flash off)


Fuji X100 | 1/300 sec, f/5.6, ISO 800 (flash on)

I like that the results are subtle. They don’t scream “taken with flash!!!!”


Fuji X100 | 1/220 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200

These leaves were pretty heavily shadowed. Use the flash to lighten them up against the background.

I must say, when I first saw the little built-in flash on the X100 I just chuckled. But hey, it comes in handy. Fuji calls it an “intelligent flash.” Seems like an appropriate name considering how easy it is to get natural results with it.  Good job, Fuji!

Written by Jonathan

July 11, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Flash Bus San Francisco

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Joe McNally and David Hobby’s Flash Bus arrived in South San Francisco today for an all-day conference on all things flash. To see these two live was a big deal for me. These guys are masters!

According to Joe and David, San Francisco’s attendance was the largest yet since the tour started. I wasn’t expecting so many people to be there, but wow, was it packed!

A quick FaceTime with Suki (left). Bag of goodies courtesy of Adorama (right)

The gear table. That’s about $4000 worth of SB-900/Justin Clamp goodness lined up right there. And below, about a bazillion dollars worth of lenses. Drool.

Hey, I want my name on my Lastolite Softbox! Apparently Joe had been bugging Lastolite to make a white-lined Ezy Box instead of silver, and they finally gave in, and named it after him. Coolness.

I also would have liked to be one of the V.A.L. volunteers, with these front row seats (right)…you’ll see why in a moment.

Chattin’ it up with Joe during  a break. After reading all of his books, following his blog, and watching every video he’s been involved in with Kelby Training, it was hard not to feel quite star struck when meeting Joe for the first time. After all, everything I’ve learned about flash photography, including so much of the technique that went into last years 52 week project, I learned from this guy. Meeting him was awesome. Very down to earth, funny, and mild, yet so full of photographic knowledge and experience.  A legendary artist and a skilled teacher.

Same goes for David Hobby. Crazy cool guy, and so knowledgeable in the language of light that it blew my mind. Too bad I arrived a little late and got a pretty bleh seat. Unfortunately, the auditorium was not sloped, so it was nearly impossible to get a shot of the stage without someone’s out-of-focus head getting in my shot.

Chicken Scratch.

David started off the seminar with a great lecture about on-location lighting technique.

After lunch, Joe took over and got hands-on with TTL flash photography demonstrations. While I did learn a ton listening to Hobby in the morning, there’s nothing quite like watching Joe do his thing.

The lighting was atrocious in the conference center. Most of these shots sit between ISO3200 and ISO6400.

Joe called up some volunteers to help out with a shot that ended up involving nearly 30 speedlights. The result was, well, see for yourself:

Very cool. See the actual image on Joe’s Blog.

He’d also pick random people out of the audience and make portraits of them. Running two SB units through a large diffusion panel gave him the result on the right. So simple, and yet such a fantastic result.

A little QnA at the end of the day.

To say I enjoyed it would be an understatement!

_______________________

D700 | 24-120mm f/4 VR | 70-200 f/2.8 VRII

Barbie Repro

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Click on Image for Larger Version

Bridget had this Barbie made just for her, how cool is that? She’s made of porcelain instead of plastic, and her hair is meticulously hand-made. She asked me to take a few photographs of Barbie, and these are a few from the set I shot for her.

All of these images were made around the same time of day, using an SB-800 and SB-900, both bare and wirelessly (Nikon CLS) triggered . Different white balance settings and use of gels helped me change the color of the background, which is basically the sky through a window as the sun sets.

Bridget has a flickr set for all the Barbie’s she’s collected here.

Nikon D300s + AFS Micro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8, SB-800 + SB-900

Written by Jonathan

December 27, 2009 at 6:26 pm