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The Graduate -- off camera flash, critique requested

Discussion in 'General flash photography, lighting, and technique' started by Skunkabilly, Jun 7, 2007.

  1. Hello all,

    My friend graduated med school last week and I shot this of him and his brother. I'm a little out of my element shooting events and am working on this off camera flash thing so critique is appreciated.

    I intentionally underexposed the background as it was a bit busy and the lighting was pretty blah.

    D200 in right hand, commander mode + 18-200 + SB800. I think the SB800 was set to 0EV and the D200 was in manual, with background underexposed -1 2/3 or so.

  2. plusfour

    plusfour Guest

    Was the SB800 in TTL?

    BG looks good but I think there's a little too much SB800 action - the highlights are blown on the faces.
    Seems your method was right, underexpose the background a bit etc., but the balancing from the flash doesn't seem there. It looks like it was trying to make up for the underexposed background and, in the process, overexpose the subjects.

    iTTL-BL might have been a better option for this...
    Anyone with more flash knowledge anything more concrete to say?

    Biggest problem for me is I got distracted by Strobist http://www.strobist.com a couple of weeks ago and haven't used my flash in TTL or on-camera since. Pah!
  3. foto1139


    Feb 6, 2006
    i-TTL-BL is hard to beat. Make sure it is -BL and not just i'TTL, by the way how did you underexpose the background by 1 and 2/3 stop or so.
  4. Excellent thought process, Jeff, and you get props for trying the Strobist approach! If you had dialed down the flash to -1.0ev, you would have nailed it! But not to worry... it's a stop overexposed, but it can be rescued very easily!

    Open the picture in Photoshop
    Add a levels adjustment layer, in multiply blending mode.
    Paint the mask black
    Then carefully paint white on the mask over the faces, hands, and shirts of the subjects.
    Adjust the opacity of the levels adjustment layer to taste
    Flatten the image.

    I'm PMing you a one minute edit. Feel free to share it if you like.

    Keep at it, Billy, and remember to dial back the power on your powerful sb800.
  5. Hi y'all,

    1. plusfour and foto, I was in Remote mode, so I couldn't specifiy iTTL vs iTTL-BL (or can I??).

    2. Unclefrank, thanks for the PM! Unfortunately I am out of country and on my dad's laptop. The screen is kinda out of whack--a little soft and brightness is a bit off. My laptop at home is pretty consistent between my camera and printer so I'll take another look at it when I get back. Looks better than mine though so thanks I'll have to try that out!

    My question is that I thought that my 0 flash EV would be properly exposed no matter what my camera exposure is? Would not a -1/3 or whatever flash EV underexpose? I guess the SB800 is a bit too much gun! I'll have to dial it down and see how it goes. I have more graduations coming up :biggrin:
  6. Cope


    Apr 5, 2007
    Houston, Texas
    You are correct, off camera there is just TTL. As Uncle Frank says, all is not lost and you get an A for effort. If you can, at least download the 30 day trial for Capture NX.
  7. But you are metering on more than the face of your subject. There's also the background to consider.

    This is much like taking a non-flash picture of a subject against a dark background. Unless you dial in some exposure compensation, the subject will be overexposed.

    Your flash puts out enough power so the average of the subject and background meet the camera's standard for a good exposure. That means the subject will be overexposed if they are standing in front of a dark background. You need to help it figure out what portion of the photo you want properly exposed by adjusting the flash compensation. Try -1ev for starters.
  8. I agree with Julian that the faces are a little blown out but other than that I think you did a nice job.
  9. Uncle Frank, I think I see where you're going. What you're saying is because the flash is 0EV and everything else is -1.7EV or so, that when the flash fires, it averages out to 0EV by overexposing my subject +1.7EV?

    Cope, I got the NX trial, but it just expired! I like Capture 4.x, worked pretty fast and did everything I wanted it to do.

    Catz, thanks! I think I'm getting there, ever so slowly.

    Should I be shooting in Av or M by the way? I'm still trying to figure out how the flash EV and regular EV jive. A bit confusing!
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