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Demo: Manual Flash

Lesson 4 from: Introduction to Using Multiple Flashes

Mike Hagen

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Lesson Info

4. Demo: Manual Flash

Lesson Info

Demo: Manual Flash

So, in manual mode, manual's a little bit different. In manual mode, a lot of people think that manual flash is slower, meaning it takes more time to deal with, and that is true. It can slow you down a little bit, because a lot of times in manual mode, a lot of times you have to go to the flash itself. And you have to make the change at the flash, verses in all this TTL stuff, you can just do it right from the camera. Another thing with manual mode is some people think it's more difficult. It's harder, mentally, to figure out what do I want to do in manual mode. Well, let me tell you, it's not really that difficult. Because with digital these days, you can just take a picture, and then you can look at the image and go, "Oh my gosh! It was too bright!" And you just reduce the power. So, even though it's, quote, more difficult, unquote, I honestly think that manual mode is simpler for me, in the long run, because it's more consistent. That's the key here. Manual flash will put up the sam...

e amount of light, every single time, regardless if you're wearing a blue shirt or a white dress or a black tuxedo. You probably don't wear many black tuxedos. (laughing) So let's mix this up now. I'm going to go to manual mode and because I'm, again, using the Nikon wireless flash system, I'm just going to do it here from this flash. So I'm just going to push the select button, here. And then rotate down to my A flash. Go in there, and change the mode to manual mode. Manual mode. And that's manual at one-eighth power, is where I'm starting at. Okay? One-eighth power. Well, what does that mean? One-eighth of what? Well, one-eighth of full power. Every flash you buy has a maximum power output. And that's called, a lot of times that's one over one. And I'll show it here. That's one over one. So that, if I shot this photo of you at one over one, I told you earlier that it won't hurt, that might hurt a little bit. (laughing) It's a little bit bright. It's a little bit hot. So, a lot of times I shoot my studio flashes at half power or quarter power, because it allows me to recycle them faster. You know, I don't have to wait so long for the little red light to come back on and say, "Okay, take your next shot." Alright, so I'll shoot this, I'm going to start this guy at, let's just start it at eighth power. Oops. Got to get the-- And your slave is going to know? What was your question? And your slave is going to know that you've changed the power? Yeah, so she asked the question, "Is my slave going to know that I changed the power?" Yes, it is right now because I'm using this wireless technology. Later, when we do the two and three and four and five light examples, I'm going to do everything manual mode. Everything's just basically a master and a slave, and I'll have to go to the flash to make the change. So, yeah. So this guy is going to now shoot at one-quarter power. Alright, best, smile, ever. One, two, three. (camera clicks) Now, I have no idea if the brightness is going to be good or not. What do you think? Did I nail it? No (laughing) It's too bright! It's too bright. So, that was one-eighth, so I can already tell I'm going to need to drop that, maybe by two stops even. So I'm going to drop it down to one-sixteenth power. And, I'll push controller there, go down to one-sixteenth, shoot that again. One, two, three. (camera clicks) Great. And, much better. Okay, so maybe a little bit brighter. So now I'm going to go one-sixteenth plus a third. Or maybe one-sixteenth plus two thirds. So, let's see. We'll go here. One-sixteenth, and then right next to it, you'll see it says plus point seven. And this should be our last one. Hopefully I've got it dialed in. (camera clicks) Loading, and, okay. Pretty good. Yep. I'm feeling okay about that one. So, now the point I want to make is, we're going to take another picture with you in your black shirt. So you guys go and swap positions. And, I think you guys already know what's going to happen here but I just want to show that the two exposures are going to be consistent from picture to picture. Okay? This will be quick and dirty. One, two, three. (camera clicks) Super. Yeah, so, I'll bring these two up side by side. Well, pretty close. If we look at those two, especially the backgrounds, you'll see that the output of the flash is consistent from shot to shot. So now we can bring in anybody into the studio, regardless of the clothing that they're wearing, regardless of the color of their skin. Dog, cat, turtle, flowers, whatever. And you're going to get consistent brightness from shot to shot. So, my admonition to you is to shoot in manual mode for consistency's sake. And for learning. You're going to really learn and understand your flash photography much better if you shoot in manual mode. Okay, thank you. So, we're going to change subjects, just ever so slightly and go to flash triggers but I think it would be good to go to Kena and see if there's questions. So, we did have some questions come through, especially when we were talking about TTL. And, William Southwick's question is, "Can you spot meter off the face when you're using TTL?" Good question, William. The answer is, kind of, but I don't necessarily recommend it. Spot metering, so without getting into too, well, today's a technical class, so I will get into a little technical detail. Okay, the TTL system works by understanding what's in the whole frame. So, the Nikon and the Canon and the Fuji, all of these cameras, they have the flash sensors, basically utilizing the entire imaging sensor area, to figure out the TTL exposure. And so, when you switch to spot-meter, that's really for your ambient light exposure. The TTL system is still basically using the overall scene. I learned this a long time ago. I'll tell you a real quick story. There's a new ... athletic gym going in, in Portland, Oregon. And I was hired to photograph a bunch of their athletes, a bunch of athletes at their gym. And, it was back in my film days so I couldn't see what I was doing, and it was very early in my career. And so, I went in. I remember, vividly, to this day. I set my camera to spot-meter because I wanted to do exactly what you're describing. I'm like, "Ooh, I want to spot meter on that guy's face, "so I don't blow it out." So I did that. I remember, I went in and I spot metered. And then, I was shooting my flash and I'm like, "Ahh, I heard this Nikon flash system's pretty good." This was back in the 90's. So, I set the flashes to TTL. And what I discovered was, is that the flash system in TTL mode didn't really pay attention to what I did with the spot meter. Now the Nikon people may be watching this and go, "Ooh, Mike, you may be wrong." But, in my experience, you shouldn't spot meter when doing flash. I think, maybe, to answer William's question a little bit better, is maybe think about using a hand-held light meter, like a Sekonic. The Sekonic, or there's a few other brands out there, but a hand-held light meter will allow you to meter the scene, but everything has got to be in manual mode. So, I could hold a light meter, maybe up to your face, (tongue clicking) click it at, you know, eighth power, sixteenth power, it'll tell me what aperture to set on my camera. That's really the more precise way, the better way to do it. But you can't generally combine TTL with a hand-held light meter. Those two things don't really play well together. Another question? Yeah, thank you for going into that explanation and how it all works. The question from Bob is, "Does the on-camera trigger flash "contribute to the exposure, "when you're in TTL?" In TTL mode, the answer is, it depends. And I think you're going to find that with most of my answers today, it depends, right? So, the TTL, the Nikon TTL system and the Canon TTL system, both have the ability to control what the master flash does. Okay? So this is the master flash here. This, or I'll call it the commander flash, to be more specific. You can tell the commander flash to contribute or you can tell the commander flash to just communicate. And so, if we look, I'll hold this real steady here. If we look right there on the top, there's a letter M. M stands for master and if you see that letter M, it's set for dash dash. And what that means is, that I have told that master flash to only communicate and not contribute to the exposure. I think that's important. It's a really good question. It's important in studio photography because you've put all of your eggs in the lighting modifier basket. In other words, you spent all this money on a nice Profoto Softbox, (laughing) the last thing you want to do is have the light come from your camera, shining right onto your subject. So, whatever type of triggering system you use on the camera body, turn that system off so it doesn't add light onto the scene. Are you using auto white balance, and does this contribute to the change in colors of the two shots, when shot in manual? Oh, they caught me. You guys are ... bright viewers. I forgot to set my white balance to flash, (laughing) after all that talk. So, the answer is, yes, I was using auto white balance, and I probably should turn it to flash. In fact I will, once I can free up my other hand here. Does it, what was the second part, does it contribute-- To the change in color, even though you had the same, when you were in manual, even though you had the same exposure? Yeah, so, yes. Auto white balance is variable ... Color. So what it's going to do is when it sees your blue shirt, it's going to give me a slightly different color cast then when it sees your black shirt, you know? I see this all the time when I'm shooting portraiture, that the person's clothing can influence and impact the color from the camera. So it's important that we distinguish between color and brightness. I hear this a lot, you know, I showed earlier those two photos side-by-side in TTL mode. One was slightly brighter than the other. Well that had nothing to do with white balance but it had everything to do with exposure control. So, luminosity, luminance. So, luminance and brightness, that's all exposure system. Color, that's all white balance. So, thank you for catching me on that. I'm going to just change my white balance back to flash. There we go. So now my white balance is on flash. Colors should be better. One other quick point on that white balance thing, when you're in auto white balance with any of the new cameras, Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Sony, when you're in auto white balance, and you have a flash on there, the camera will automatically, kind of, go into flash white balance. So, it's an intelligent white balance tool.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with RSVP

Gear List

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Multiple Flash Lighting Diagrams
Keynote Presentation

Ratings and Reviews

Marty Walker

This is really a fantastic class and at an even fantastic-er price. Well worth the money, and is a great help. The instructor does a very good job explaining the methods, light shapers, and effects they create. One of my favorite videos!

Jeph DeLorme

Mike Hagen does a great job of presenting what could be a complicated process in a way that makes it easy to understand and implement. Not only does he make it easy to follow along, he presents alternative solutions that don't break the budget. I have viewed several instructors and various classes at Creative Live and this would definitely be one of my favorites. I have to say, this class would be a bargain at 10x the price!

Tim Stapenhurst

What can I say about this class? Mike is great- not only does he give a thorough break down of all the equipment one could need but he also includes wide variety of price options for those just getting started. Aside from his thorough knowledge of gear, Mike provides an excellent and easy to follow bread down of how to build up the light for your subject. His lesson plan is super easy to follow and very concise as he slowly builds up from using 2 lights to 5 lights. He also demonstrate what I think is a much needed trait in a photographer and that is being cool under pressure, dealing with issues and not getting rattled and simply going back to the basics. Creative Live Nailed it with this class

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