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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    122

    Sunset Portrait *Flash* help

    I tried posting in the strobist group on Flickr, but the responses were very sparse. I've also tried searching on Google with mixed results.

    Basically, I'm very VERY new to flash photography. I've always relied on ambient light for my images so I feel like I'm starting all over again in using flash.

    The reason I'm posting is because a good friend has asked me to shoot his engagement photos here at the beach. And, of course they want sunset shots. I want to basically underexpose for the sunset (to get the rich colors) but I want he and his fiancee to be properly exposed by the flash.

    From what I understand, the flash power will directly affect the subject, not the background. The aperture will affect "everything" (so to speak). The shutter speed will affect the background. Is that correct?

    In preparation, I've tried a few test shoots using other people. Using the above thinking, on ISO100, I tried setting my flash on both auto modes (manual seems a little out of my reach at the moment). I put the camera in M however and set the aperture at 4 or 5. I then played around with flash distance and shutter speed, however I was very underwhelmed with the results. I might just be wholly confusing myself. I really just don't know.

    I pointed the camera at the background and fiddled with the exposure until it was just a tad underexposed. Then I locked in the exposure. I recomposed the picture and shot. Whole thing was underexposed. I then tried locking the background exposure and recomposing, then changing the shutter speed to get a slightly overexposed foreground (metering off the people). Still didn't work. I tried getting closer, and then moving back. All throw away shots. I'm SO frustrated!

    Basically what I'm looking for here is the Idiot's guide to setting up a strongly backlit shot (as you would have with the sunset at your back). I'm looking for help regarding the following settings:

    The flash will be on-camera with a diffuser.

    flash: what mode should I set it to?
    camera: what ISO? Should I use P, M, A, or S priority? HOW exactly do I meter properly? Any issues you see right away that I need to fix?

    I have the D80 and SB-600.

    HELP!
    Nikon D80
    Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8
    Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6
    Nikkor 50mm f/1.4
    Nikon SB600 Speedlight ]
    LightsphereII
    ...also, Canon Powershot G2
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jsnail17
    http://www.tailwagginphotography.com


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Brisbane, CA
    Posts
    3,590
    Well I'm not flash expert either, but I think you'd have to stop down to get the shutter speed below the max sync speed. However, I probably wouldn't try to shoot them in sunlight like that. The color from the sun won't match the color from your flash. It would be much easier to shoot them in the shade, on an overcast day, or right after the sun goes down.
    Lukas

    Camera: Anonymous
    I could tell you but I wouldn't want you to get all pissy if it's the wrong brand

    Flickr

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    122
    but even after the sun goes down I still need to underexpose the background, right? I think they really want the colors of the sun, and, the sun if possible. we're definitely staying till after the sun "sets", but I assume the technique would be the same. unfortunately I'm clueless as to what the technique is
    Nikon D80
    Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8
    Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6
    Nikkor 50mm f/1.4
    Nikon SB600 Speedlight ]
    LightsphereII
    ...also, Canon Powershot G2
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jsnail17
    http://www.tailwagginphotography.com


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Northern Colorado, USA
    Posts
    2,225
    I'm pretty sure you're making this harder than it needs to be. Basically, you want fill flash. Set your exposure for the background and add flash to light your subject. Since it's a sunset, you want to ensure that you are not set on auto-white balance. Set white balance for normal daylight, and the sunset colors will come through fine.

    IIRC, don't the Nikon flashes have a fill setting? You can see how much I use mine. Still, the basic principle is correct: expose for the background and flash to light subject.
    Eric Lund
    Nikon D200
    Nikkors: 17-55mm f2.8, 18-200mm f3.5-f4.5 VR, 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 VR, 35mm f2, 50mm f1.8, 55mm f2.8 AI-S micro, 105mm f2.8 VR micro
    Other Lenses: Tokina 12-24 f4, Tamron 75-300mm f4-5.6 LD macro
    Stuff: Nikon SB800, Nikon MBD200, Gitzo 1327 Tripod w/RRS BH-55LR Ballhead, Sekonic L-358 meter

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    326
    I am not a flash expert either but I think Eric means setting the flash to TTL-BL.

    What metering was the camera set at? Also I am not sure if it applies to TTL-BL, you might to try Flash Lock Value

    anyhow, hope it helps.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    So Calif
    Posts
    3,226
    Camera mode in M. Take a test shot or two without the flash, and the aperture at 5.6. Adjust shutter to get exposure for the background.
    Set flash on manual and adjust power setting to get your guide number about 56. Divide flash guide number (hopefully 56 :-) by your aperture (5.6) to get the subject camera distance - in this case 10 feet. Have subjects stand 10 feet from the camera.
    Pentax K20D/K5/15/21/40/70/10-17/12-24, Sigma 17-70 2.8-4.5/150-500, Tamron 90 Macro/70-200 2.8, Canon SX20 IS/Elph 500HS
    (formerly Pentax 50 1.4/50-200/55-300/K100D, Sigma 18-50 2.8/70-300 APO, Tamron 28-75, Viv 800, Tele-Tokina 800, Canon S3 IS, Samsung L210)
    http://s133.photobucket.com/albums/q78/KylePix/

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    6,830
    Try reading this blog and this blog.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Atlanta, Georgia
    Posts
    3,650
    First thing don't use CLS, and remove the diffuser and point the flash at your subject, meter for your background and then under expose to taste. Set flash to manual start off at 1/1 then back it off until flash is appropriate for the subject.

    1/1 = full power
    1/2 = half power
    1/4 = one fourth power
    1/8 = one eighth power

    The important thing to remember is that flash power or output is cut in half with every division. If you're having trouble at 1/1 you are too far from the subject and light fall off is the issue. This should get you going in the right direction.

    P.S. What you're attempting is creative lighting you can attempt to use exposure compensation but manual mode will be much simpler. after you get your lighting where you want it then you can reintroduce the diffuser but remember the lightsphere wastes power in the diffusion process and with nothing to bounce off of it's falling off all over the place. build "a better bounce card" do a google search for less than a buck at Walmart it will do exactly what you need it to do.
    I thought about who I am... and realized I was an
    unformed, unreconciled imagery, without "GOD"


    NikonD?
    and some other Nikon stuff

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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    793
    I'd have to disagree with Xailo here. I'd be using CLS since you've got a D80 and SB600. The results of your shots will be a lot better if you get the flash off camera. I don't know whether you have a light stand, but if you don't you can rope in a friend to hold the flash or just use the SB600 flash stand and put it on your tripod. Like everyone else mentioned, meter for the background in manual mode and underexpose however much you choose. Set the aperture around f5.6 or whatever gives you a good background exposure with flash power on say 1/4. If the subjects are over or underexposed you've got 2 options: move the subjects closer or further from the flash, or increase or decrease the flash power. You could adjust aperture to increase or decrease the exposure on the flash but it will change your background exposure too. Oh and don't use a diffuser if it's the lightsphere since you don't have anything to bounce off it's just wasting power.
    Last edited by achuang; 11-08-2008 at 03:52 PM.
    Nikon D700 | SB600 | SB-80DX | 2xSB-26 | 18-35 f/3.5-4.5 | 24-85 f/3.5-4.5G | 50 f/1.4 G | 105 f/2.8 VR | 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 VR

    flickr

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Atlanta, Georgia
    Posts
    3,650
    Achuang, I don't think you are disagreeing with me, he stated a couple things pretty clearly 1)he was allowing the camera to control the flash 2)he would be using the flash on camera... while I agree off camera would be a better approach. There are a few basics he needs to come to grips with first. I was not refering to the wireless capabilities of CLS because that's not how he was using the flash system rather he was allowing CLS to control flash output. Since we agree that using the flash in manual mode would be preferable alls good
    I thought about who I am... and realized I was an
    unformed, unreconciled imagery, without "GOD"


    NikonD?
    and some other Nikon stuff

    0.0%

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