Flash tip

Today, a quick but important (and as far as I can tell, pretty unique) TTL flash tip.

So you want to know if you can do a certain shot? TTL outdoors is fighting against the sun. Do you have enough power to do the shot? It’s always a battle.

You can of course fire a test shot. If the flashed area is dark, try exposure compensation, maybe. Or spot metering, or using FEL (flash lock). Or rely on the LCD display on your flash to tell you the expected distance. All very time consuming and uncertain. What if I just want to know “do I have enough power in my flash to do this shot” and then if yes, figure it out from there?

I am glad you asked.

  1. Set your camera to highlight review mode (“blinkies” on)
  2. Set your flash to MANUAL
  3. Set power on the flash to FULL (100%, a.k.a. 1/1)
  4. Take the shot!

Now you know:

  • Blinkies means yes, you have enough power. Turn the flash back to TTL and go from there.
  • No blinkies means that however you compensate or meter, nothing you can do. Get closer, or increase your ISO, and try again.

Simple, innit? This trick has saved me countless times.

Tricks like this one, and many more, is what you will learn in Las Vegas next week, and in Mono, Ontario the week after. Come join me and David Honl in Vegas and me and Jospeh Marranca in Mono to learn more!

0 thoughts on “Flash tip

  1. How about you always use the flash in manual mode, and know at what distance (flash to subject) your flash at full power is as bright as the sun. Then you go from there and change either the distance or the power to get the desired ratio between the flash and the sun.

    My humble opinion is that no pros (or “emerging pros”, whatever that is) ever use TTL or any other automated flash mode.

    Those options are there for the Uncle Bob you were referring to in a previous post.

  2. Nah… TTL is definitely for pros. Especially event pros, who cannot recreate studio-like conditions where you know the distance, have measured it, and it remains constant.

    Clearly, when you have time, and when distances remain constant (i.e. a set-up shot), you use manual flash, and meter accurately. The issue with an event, however, is that nothing is constant and you do not have time.

    A good pro knows both manual and TTL.

    So why do most pros not usually use TTL? Because they do not know the ins and outs, never having been taught them. Canon and Nikon are not exactly forthcoming with details. And it can be confusing. That’s what I do in the courses: remove that confusion. Once you know the ins and outs, it is remarkably consistent and easy.

  3. Yeah, I get what you mean.

    Bread-and-butter boring corporate gathering with plastic wine glasses and appetizer, sure stick a flash on TTL, shoot it, collect the check.

    But let me rephrase what I wrote. No “pros” will have any portfolio image shot with an on-camera flash on TTL, regardless of their area of expertise.

    The camera also has an Av and Tv and P mode. The better photographer will want to manually control everything (exception made for the autofocus)

    And I’d have to say I don’t think there’s many ins and probably even less outs, when it comes to understanding how TTL works. No harm teaching it to hobbyists, but I’ll have to disagree when you say “pros” don’t use it because TTL is confusing.

    But back to your flash tip, I would advise knowing what the maximum capacity of your flash is, hence at what distance your flash is as bright as the sun (and know that anything beyond that is out of your range). Can’t say that “blinkies” is something “pros” use.

  4. But I can, and yes, they do. As they use TTL. 🙂

    I have allowed your posts in spite of the anonymous nature, but here’s the long and short of it: there are many types of pro, and many (event photographers, above all) do use TTL. Which is very sophisticated.

    There are other camera modes? Of course. Indoors you would always be on “M” mode. But the flash is still independently metered.

    Of course you can use guide numbers to know distance ahead of time (I teach that, of course), but there is a lot more to it than that. Like the flash’s zoom setting. Firing a test flash (and yes, with blinkies) is the one sure fire way to be certain (puns intended).

    Come to one of my courses and be amazed.

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