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CLS/AWL Rules for Candids at Events!

Discussion in 'General flash photography, lighting, and technique' started by chemisti, Jul 28, 2009.

  1. chemisti


    May 24, 2007
    McKinney, TX
    A friend of mine joined the Army at the tender young age of 40. He is set to start his training as a prelude to deployment to the Middle East in October or November. His wife and us friends had a party for him.

    I took my camera and used Nikon CLS/AWL to give some off-camera lighting and to catch some candids.

    I used a SB-800 on my D300 to contribute and act as a commander. I set up remote SB-600 as off-cam flash on its stand on a beam above the outdoor patio at the club. Both had Stoffen knock-offs. I generally used the following strategy:
    - If the SB-600 was behind the subject: SB-800 at 0 FV Comp as the primary light and and the SB-600 at -1.3 FV Comp for a little backlighting.
    - If the SB-600 was in front of the subject, SB-800 at -1.3 FV Comp and and the SB-600 at 0 FV Comp. That way the SB-600 was the primary and the SB-800 (on-cam) was acting as a fill.

    Should've gelled the flashes to match the incandescent - oh well - live and learn. There was a lot of different colors of lights around the area! PP would've been so much easier.

    What a great party.

    The guest of honor:
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  2. Good job man! you got some really good shots. Sounded like a nice set-up you had there!
  3. F15Todd


    Feb 1, 2005
    Coming in at 40, that rocks. I'm just counting down the days till I can retire...535 days to go!

    Nice job on the lighting.
  4. Looks REALLY tack sharp.
  5. Great examples of how to use CLS! Well done!

    Personally, I find dealing with all the exposure and flash compensation numbers a pain so in situations like that I just set all the flashes to manual (using the commander flash) and just ride it as need from experience. TTL is a great feature but can be very unpredictable at times.

    Have you tried going all manual with flashes?
  6. chemisti


    May 24, 2007
    McKinney, TX

    I started reading the Strobist blog about 3 months after he started writing it - back when nobody had heard of it - just stumbled across it. I hadn't even heard of CLS then either. I also didn't own a flash. I got my first SB-600 soon after for my D50. Soon a SB-24 followed just as the great Strobist-SB-24-buy-all-you-can (should've bought a whole fleet of SB-26s!) gold rush started and drove the price from $30 - $40 to $100 or more. At one point I had a Viv 285HV, a Sigma ST500, a SB-24, and still have the SB-600 - along with a selection of optical triggers and Ebay poverty wizards.

    Anyway - I did the manual thing and sometimes still do. I find that thinking about the light is still the same. I usually use manual settings on the camera so I can control shutter speed and aperture - but let the CLS system do the heavy lifting for the flash.

    I have to admit that there is a little "gizmo worship" involved.

    However, I find that when lighting conditions change quickly by location, shooting angle, or when I don't want perfection but just "pretty good" (as in the type of situation illustrated here), then CLS just makes it easier and quicker to get good results. I also miss fewer shots because I am not "futzing" with the camera as much.

    If I want a shot right now with some off-cam light, I can grab one or both of my SB-600s (always left configured for wireless) and pop them up on a bookshelf or use one of my clamps and bounce them of a ceiling or wall very quickly and snap off something better than the typical "blinded-by-the-flash-overnuked-looks-like-a-point-and-shoot" images that many get in just a minute or two. I can also relax and grab the shot - using simple tools and quick setups and things around me like walls and ceilings to bounce light. If I am actually shooting a portrait - I am much more likely to slow down "go manual"!

    Hey - to each his own! Good luck.
  7. Thanks for sharing your experience. :) 

    I'm glad to hear that you made CLS work for you. I still use it as well from time to time for the reasons you've already mentioned. For most things I go all manual these days, even when I'm working in a very dynamic environment.

    At this point, I know what 1/4 power through an umbrella will do to a subject 2 meters away at my usual settings, etc. and it will always be the same result no matter what the person looks like or what they wear. I find that easier to deal with.

    When it comes to dynamic events. I tend to prefer to setup up basic "lighting zones", areas where I have a flash setup (if I needed) and quickly know what settings I need to use. Yes, it does limit where I shoot, but I'm no longer afraid to guide my subjects and tell them to turn around so I can get a good photo. Yes, I'm lazy! :p 
  8. chemisti


    May 24, 2007
    McKinney, TX
    Hey, these were some of the better images. I had trouble with AF in the low light and some of them weren't that good. Manual might've helped.

    I will also add the observation that my photography judgement and skills rapidly decline somewhere between the 4th and 7th beer of the evening!

    Good luck.
  9. Nice shots, but those are not candids!
  10. chemisti


    May 24, 2007
    McKinney, TX
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