Hi Steve,

I’ve got a short question about flash photography. I’m playing around with that flash now, trying to get some indoor shots of family and friends, but there’s one thing I’m not getting.

The flash, when in auto mode, will ensure that the subject on which I focus is properly exposed, and this is working pretty well. However, and this is also mentioned in the user guide, the background exposure is still done through the shutter speed, which means that even though I am using a flash, my shutter speeds are still very long in aperture priority mode. Since I’m shooting handheld, and the fact that I’m shooting people that have a tendency to move, I get blurry pictures.

I know that the best solution would probably be to use one or more slave flashes to expose the background as well, but since I don’t have that, would the best workaround be to use shutter priority instead? This way I can set the exposure time, but obviously it results in a darker, underexposed background. I know that with only 1 flash and no tripod I cannot have both a properly exposed subject AND a nicely exposed background, so what’s the best middle ground here?

Would appreciate your advice. I still have a week left here, and would like to take some nice shots to bring home to Bangkok.

Thanks.

By the way, my brother loved the flash as a gift. Couldn’t believe he was really getting it. Thanks for helping me giving him such a nice present.

Best regards,

 

KVW

 

Hi KVW -

I knew this question was coming.. ;o)

Using a flash opens up all sorts of creative possibilities.  When shooting portraits for example you have the choice of:

Exposing the background and foreground the same.

    1. Underexposing the background.
    2. Overexposing the background.

There are legit reasons for all three, depending on what you're trying to achieve.  Generally, I try to underexpose the backgrounds which has a few benefits I greatly enjoy.

    1. I think a properly exposed subject against a darker background looks more 'right' than any other way.
    2. You get a shorter shutter time.. which allows for a greater handholding range.
    3. The flash tends to 'bleed' less into the mid ground.

Aperture priority mode with Canon and their speedlights SUCKS BIG TIME.  This was the hardest thing for me to get used to when going from Nikon to Canon.  Totally inconsistent, the program that makes the decision sucks, etc, etc, etc.. the only time this works well is for fill flash in relatively good light when the ambient light is already bright enough for good shutter times.

For the same reason Shutter Priority isn't all that great either.. useful for stopping action.. but you're still limited to a relatively slow sync speed so who cares.

I use three modes with the speedlights.. for the following uses.

    1. Aperture priority --  If in a hurry, such as a wedding, and the ambient light is strong enough then I'll use AP for fill flash needs.
    2. Full Auto TTL --  I use this for fast moving events where getting the shot is more important than anything else.
    3. Full Manual --  this is what I use most of the time, even for weddings and other events.  A professional flash makes using manual easy.. and you'll wonder why you ever used anything different.  Not only does it allow for full creative use of subject/fill/background.. but also the direction of the light and whatever modifiers you want to use (softbox, reflectors, etc)

Note:  A professional grade flash system is 100x easier to use in full manual.. than OEM speedlights.  You can put this system in your mental checklist along with a full frame.. ;o)

Soon.. you'll be asking about flash brackets, off-camera cables (have one of the expensive cables for off-camera use.. barely used.. ;o)), and the other common stuff..


Steve

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