Beginner’s mistake

I don’t make those, right?

Of course I do – but then I fix them.

At a recent talk at Seneca College I shot my “assistant-for-the-evening” Kim in a test shot, using the usual settings (ISO 400, 1/40th sec, f/4; and the flash on TTL, aimed 45 degrees behind me):

Kim Gorenko assisting (Photo: Michael Willems)

Uh oh, too dark. What?

Oh. (Hits forehead)! White or yellow bright walls, a white top: TTL metering will of course get this wrong and will underexpose (just like ambient metering would).

So let’s set FEC (flash exposure compensation) to +1 stop and let’s try that again:

Kim Gorenko assisting (Photo: Michael Willems)

That’s a lot better! (And then you can fine-tune from there). Notice how the ambient is the same (background), but the flashed part of the picture (her) is now brighter.

Often, when people say “TTL flash metering is unpredictable” they mean “I haven’t quite thought it through”, and this was such a case. Problem solved, and I should have done this even before the first test shot – but then, that is why you take test shots!

Interested in lighting? Consider some private coaching, where I explain all, you get to practice and take actual shots, and all will become clear. The December/January special is still on: 10% off during those months.

4 thoughts on “Beginner’s mistake

  1. Michael, thanks for all the tips on shooting photos indoors. I always seem to have a problem with this. Shooting outdoors is always great. I have to shoot photos at a 25th Wedding Anniversary this Saturday and will try to apply all these tips and your rule of thumb 4-4-4. My camera is a Canon Rebel XSI and Speedlite is 430EX. Please give me some suggestions as to what other setting I should set my camera on, i.e. tungsten, AWB, etc.
    I was a student once in one of your classes and loved the simplicity of your teaching. As a matter of fact, I read your blog daily. Good tips. Keep it up!!

    • MV: sounds good. “Flash” white balance, and if the venue is very dark you can increase ISO or use wider aperture or slower shutter if you must). Try to bounce the flash 45 degrees up b ehind you – practice this first in simialr locations. And you will do well!

  2. While the lightning of the person in the 2nd picture looks better, the flare in the 2nd picture from the florescent light becomes a distraction to the picture overall.

    How can I eliminate the flare yet keeping the subject bright?

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