Camera Setup: Metering


How to Shoot with your First Flash


Lesson Info

Camera Setup: Metering

Alright, well let's get in some more tech-y stuff here, some more technical stuff. I'm gonna grab my camera. And, I think for the studio, so they can look in here, it'll be easier if I put this on my tripod. What I want to talk about now is metering. So, we're gonna get in some technical metering stuff. So, all the Canons and Nikons and Fujis, and everybody else out there in Cameraland, they have metering modes, light metering modes, okay. And on the Nikon system, the metering mode button is typically right up here, there are three types of meters. Three types of light meters. There's matrix meter, center weighted meter, and spot meter. Okay, so, what should we use for flash? Well, the truth is, is that, the metering system for flash, almost always, regardless of which camera brand you're using, kind of uses a multi-pattern meter. So like, even if you're in spot meter, when the camera's trying to figure out the automatic flash exposure, it kinda looks at the whole frame. So, it's reall...

y using a multi-pattern meter for the flash. Even though, you might have chosen spot meter. That said, if you want your camera to be as automatic as possible, and to do most of the thinking for you, I recommend that you use matrix meter on the Nikon, on the Canon it's evaluative meter, you know, multi-pattern type meter. So, what I'll do, I'm just gonna turn on my info screen, here, and, can you guys see that? Okay, cool. So, then if I push this metering mode button, you can see down here, and I rotate with my thumb, you can see, I'm switching between the metering mode. So, that's matrix or pattern meter, this is the central weighted meter, and there's the spot. In general, my recommendation is that you use matrix metering. And, that's if you're gonna use, TTL flash. Now, I haven't use the term TTL yet, or I haven't defined it yet. But TTL stands for Through The Lens metering. Most flashes give you two options for metering. One is TTL, that's Through the Lens. And the other is manual. You know, manual flash output. There's a bunch of other stuff in there, and I'll talk about those later. But two that we really think through as photographers, are TTL, and manual mode, okay. So, if you want the camera again, to do most of the thinking for you, set the thing for matrix meter, and that will automate it as much as possible. Later today, I'm gonna talk about why TTL may not always be the best choice. In fact, some of you, have probably had bad experiences with TTL. In consistent experiences with TTL, and that's just the nature of the beast. So, I'm gonna show you how to wrangle TTL, and then also maybe how to go to the next step, which manual, old school. Alright, so cool, any questions about matrix? Anybody? Spot? So that's kinda the first step. You notice, just as a side note here, I'm starting my flash photography discussion, with the camera. And that's important. It's important that you get your camera settings nailed first. Once your camera's all set up for ISO and aperture, and shutter speed, and synchronization mode and all that, those eight or ten things that we have to get right here. Once that's set, then we start talking flash, then we start going through the flash settings. So, make that a habit of yours. Always start with the camera, and then over, afterwards, get into the flash and the flash settings.

Class Description

Every photographer encounters situations where the light on their subject is less than ideal. A small flash can have a huge impact on your photos and is easier to use than you think! Photographer Mike Hagen joins CreativeLive to show you how to use your external flash quickly and comfortably. Mike will walk through the different flash options available and how to sync your camera and flash. He’ll walk you through different scenarios and demonstrate how your flash can improve your shots. After this class you’ll walk away knowing: 

  • How to set up your flash with your camera and what to look for when shooting 
  • How to use a flash in scenarios like event photography, portraits and tabletop photography 
  • Which light shapers work best for your work and how to utilize them 
  • How to use your flash off camera, working with TTL cables, wireless triggers and other gear
  • Techniques for using modifiers like umbrellas, softboxes and reflectors with your off camera flash 
Don’t get stuck in a low light scenario without the confidence and tools you need to produce an amazing image. 


Yasemin Soyen

First of all I am very happy to discover Creative Live and since then I learned, enjoyed many classes! This week for the first time I was in the live audience and their sincerity, hospitality made the experience even more valuable. About this class, it was a pleasure to meet Mike Hagen. Besides his wide knowledge, creative thinking and information sharing, he was a very humble, nice teacher, with great positive energy. Thanks everyone!

Candy Smith

This class was fantastic. Mike is excellent under pressure when things don't go perfectly, love his style and grace and how encouraging he is to his models, great mentor. I learned so much about using flash, and my pictures are so much better.


Mike, is a fantastic instructor. I have taken other flash photography classes, but I find Mikes’ to be the best laid out, clear and concisely demonstrated class, with great detail and not overly "techy" terms to confuse the listener. Though lots of technical information is shared, it is done in a way anyone can understand and follow along. Great examples explained, to help apply what we are learning to real life scenarios. Like Rear Sync Curtain explanation, really helped distinguish the difference and why.
 Great sense of humour too!
 Hope Mike, will be back to teach more classes, maybe a sequel… one on multi flash use? 
~ Christine