The following is part two of our Speedlite Cheat Sheet. For additional training, check out one of our Speedlite mastery courses, three days of flash immersion. Just remember, flash should not be difficult!
Basic Fill Flash Ops
LIGHT recommends shooting Manual whenever possible. Remember, “Friends don’t let friends shoot Aperture Priority.”
With the camera in Manual and a Speedlite attached and powered, basic fill flash is accomplished by setting your exposure and initially ignoring the flash. With the flash in ETTL mode, the preflash burst will “find” your subject and provide the fill. Depending upon ambient light levels set your FEC to overpower or just “kiss” with light. If you prefer Manual flash, set exposure per above and then dial in your desired level of flash. The Manual option may take longer to dial in but once it is set the flash will be completely consistent.
If you shoot in any of the full Auto modes, Av, or Tv mode with the flash attached and powered, the camera’s meter and the ETTL logic will attempt to balance flash fill with ambient light and reach the correct exposure for subject and background. Modify with FEC as desired.
If your desired exposure requires a shutter speed faster than max sync speed, enable High Speed Sync. Remember your effective range will decrease.
Backlight Fill Flash
When your subject is backlit strongly you will need to separate the exposure for the background from the flash fill of your subject using the following technique.
-Flash to illuminate your subject (flash is the primary light source for the subject typical of a backlight situation) ETTL or Manual.
-Set Manual exposure for the background highlights
-Best effect is achieved keeping the shutter speed below max synch
-Recompose and focus on the subject (ignore the underexposed meter reading)
-If you need a shutter speed >max sync speed enable high speed sync
-Shoot (the flash will illuminate your subject)
-Modify your FEC (ETTL) or power (Manual) and flash zoom as required
-A low light condition may be overcome by use of the Speedlite. If you shoot any of the full Auto modes, Av, or Tv mode with the flash attached and powered, the camera’s meter and the ETTL Logic will attempt to illuminate the scene for correct exposure.
-Shooting Manual in low light gives you the control to determine how much (if any) you want the ambient light to contribute to the exposure.
-Set Manual exposure for one of two conditions
-Ambient light contribution or negation
-Required shutter speed to stop action or camera shake (good habit even though flash duration is very short)
-Shoot as normal with the flash enabled
-If you need a shutter speed >max sync enable high speed sync
-Adjust FEC and Zoom
Manual flash is often disregarded in favor of ETTL. This is unfortunate as the manual mode offers the Speedlite user incredible flexibility and power.
Press the mode button to enter Manual flash mode. The flash will not use ETTL metering in this mode. The Speedlite acts in a very similar manner to a studio strobe. Normally you will take an incident meter reading to set the flash output with FEC. Notice in Manual mode the FEC is in the following values 1/1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, 164. There are also 1/3 stop increment settings in between each of the above ratios. 1/1 is the maximum output power. Every subsequent setting is a reduction of one stop of light.
LIGHT recommends Manual as the mode of choice when operating the Speedlite in the role of “studio strobe/strobes.”
LIGHT also recommends Manual as the mode of choice for most wedding/event photographers especially when paired with a Hanson Fong Skin Glow card found at http://www.hansonfong.com/Hanson_Photography/Products.html This card is about all you need to modify the Speedlite whether shooting people, pets, or products. Email Hal for more details about this incredible piece of kit!