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TTL Vs Manual Mode

Lesson 22 from: Film Photography with Strobe Lighting

Sandra Coan

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Lesson Info

22. TTL Vs Manual Mode

Lesson Info

TTL Vs Manual Mode

TTL versus manual mode. Like I said, they do have TTL in them, and I know a lot of professional photographers who use speed light all the time, who shoot weddings, and they shoot in TTL, and they have amazing results. I am not one of those photographers. (laughing) So, first of all, I don't really, I don't shoot with a speed light at all, if I can help it. If I have a choice, I'm always gonna grab my strobe, because I always love my mono-light, and honestly, it's one of the reasons why I love these little Pro Photo B2s, because, really, they're not that much bigger than a speed light, right? They weigh about the same, they pack up really easy. But this is like any strobe head I could possibly have. It has a mono-light. I love it. So, I personally am not gonna grab this. If I were to, however, and I have been in situations where the only thing I have to use is a speed light. Then, I would take it off of my camera, put it on a stand, and put it into manual mode, and use it in manual mode...

, just like I would a strobe, versus using it with TTL. The problem with TTL is that you don't always have that control like you have when your light's in manual. When your light is in manual and your speed light's in manual, you can get in there and meter, you could really control that light, really get it to that look that you want, and that's harder to do with TTL, and it's harder still if you're using a flash that isn't necessarily made to go with your camera. It's kind of a crap shoot. So, you could end up with an image that looks super, duper flashy, right? So, isn't that the classic, "Hey, I used a flash in this photo?" (laughing) We're not fooling anybody here. And with this image, I literally had the light, this was just testing, that was shot on film, by the way, so I just did TTL, and it was straight at Betty, right in the face, shooting her right in the face. TTL, and I got that real flashy look. Now, to get away from that, you can always bounce your flash off, so this is the same setup. I'm sitting in the same place, only this time, I had my light modifier at 45 degree to the bed in my studio, 'cause it just lives there, it's always there. So all I did was turn this and bounced it off the front of that light modifier. And then I got that, which is much prettier. And again, that was TTL mode, so I didn't meter that or anything, I just shot it. And then I was like, "Well, let's just keep trying." So, then I turned it this way, and bounced it off of the wall to the side, and then, tried it this way, and bounced. So that's an option too. However, those all worked really well for a couple of reasons. First of all, I am in kind of a controlled environment. I was sitting in one spot on the floor, right? And, I work in a studio with, like I've said 1000 times today, these huge white walls everywhere. So, if I'm bouncing off a wall, I'm bouncing that white light, and it's great. Or, I'm bouncing off the ceiling. That's white too, that's great. When you're bouncing flash like that, you do have to be careful of what you're bouncing against, because if you're bouncing against a green wall, then you're gonna be throwing green light back on your people. That's not pretty. Or maybe you're out, I don't know, at a wedding reception. I don't shoot weddings. (laughing) You have nothing to bounce off, or you're bouncing off of people on accident if you do this. You don't wanna blind anybody. I've seen people carry around reflectors and bounce off the reflector. You can do that too. I personally think you're always gonna get better results if you take your flash off-camera and put it in manual mode. So, I just wanna walk you through how to do that really, really quick. So, putting it in manual mode means that you're turning this into a strobe, just like you would, everything we just did with all the strobe units. Except, you don't have that mod light. And getting into manual mode is pretty easy. Now, this is a Canon flash. The Nikon flashes are a little bit different. Every model's a little bit different. But they basically all work the same, where you can push the mode button, and you can toggle between, let me try to get it there, between ETTL or TTL. Or you can get back into, oh, there we go, into manual. And when you're in manual, it's gonna say M for manual. That's pretty easy to figure out. (laughing) You don't need me to tell you that. And then you can adjust how much power it shoots out, and it usually goes in about third stop increments. So, to do that on this one, you just push down that button until it's blinking, and then you turn this, so now we just went to 1/32 of power, 1/32, 1/64, and you can adjust it this way. And if you were working with it on a stand in a soft box, you would do that, and then you would just meter the same way you always would. But, as you can imagine, that's kinda tricky. That gets a little tricky to do. But let's say that's what you wanna do. You're like, "I love speed lights, "I only wanna do this, how do I get 'em off-camera?" So, when you wanna take them off camera, and get 'em set up, and put 'em inside of a light modifier, then we go back to talking about the cold shoe mounts. So, you just need something that you can put it in to put it on a light stand. So, nice and easy. This is a little cold shoe mount I have for it, just a little thing. Here, let me grab one of these. Sorry. So, it just goes up here, and it goes on here nice and easy. Now, this one that I have, I like because it comes with a little place in here where you could easily set up an umbrella to shoot it through, or with that Wescott 50 by that attaches like an umbrella. You could easily do that. So we can just show you. So, here. I mean, this is the nicest. This would be the easiest little setup to take with you, right? And you adjust it. And bring it down, and then suddenly you have a little lighting system to go. Easy-peasy. So, that's great. Now, once it's set up, of course, you would face your light modifier at your person that you're shooting, but I just wanna show you this so we can talk about how to get it all set up with all your gear. So, once that is set up, then, again, you would just put everything together like you would when you were setting up a strobe, like we did at the beginning. So, you need to have a trigger on there, a trigger on your camera, and a receiver on your strobe. So again, you would put your trigger on your camera, and then, put your receiver on your speed light. No, that's the wrong cord. Sorry, I just have cords over here for days. All day long, cords. So, easy, easy. It's just like setting up a strobe. And you'd put it in that little sink spot. And then you're good to go. So then it would fire when you fired your camera. And it's all set up. And then everything, oh, except now it's not, oh, see, the recycle time. Speed lights. (laughing) I'm like, why isn't it working? We have to wait for it. But once it's all set up, and you're good to go, then everything else you would do exactly the same, as far as how you light people, where you would place it, all of that would be exactly the same. So that's how you would use a speed light.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Discount Codes from Richard Photo Lab
Studio Gear List
Color Film Stock Exposure Tests
Black & White Film Stock Exposure Tests
Great Photo Labs
Noritsu Frontier Comparison

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

Wow! with a lot of online stuff out there one can become rather overcome with too much information, however, the way Sandra presents her courses is just perfect! Her honest and simple and easy to understand approach was just what I needed. Not once did I think she was just going through the motions, she really loves what she does and it shows. To be able to rewatch and rewatch was also a key for me. Since I have dyslexia I have to take things one half step at a. time. After completion of the class I had a new found confidence when using strobes. A must have.

Micah Hewett Images

Out of all the classes I own on Creative Live, Strobe Lighting with Sandra is my FAVORITE! She is an incredibly kind and gifted teacher. She explains everything on a simple level and then gradually build to more complex issues. I am 100% happy with this course. Thank you Sandra!!


Do you own a film camera? Then you NEED this class. I knew I *kind of* wanted to try shooting with a strobe, so I bought this class as some encouragement. But honestly, I half expected to do the class and not actually buy the strobe (because strobes are scary!). But as soon as I finished this class I IMMEDIATELY bought a strobe, umbrella modifier, a backdrop, and seamless paper (in Storm Grey because I basically want to be Sandra.) I felt so empowered to shoot with strobes and film and suddenly what had seemed terrifying now seemed doable. My very first test roll turned out great after following Sandra's easy tips. Now that we're in the winter months, I can shoot indoors with my film camera and strobe! Thank you, Sandra, for so generously sharing your knowledge with us and for being such a great teacher! And to anyone even remotely considering this class, DO IT. There's no way you'll regret it.

Student Work