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Flash Photography?

Posted: July 26th, 2010, 12:56 pm
by dthor68
Hey Folks,

I have been shooting for 4 years now. I am just way behind on flashes. There are so many settings, it just confuses the hell out of me. What I have relied on for four years is the natural light. It works great as long as it is not too sunny. But at times I need a flash. Like yesterday I was shooting a waterfall and ran across a huge beetle. It would not stop moving and my exposures were hitting 1 sec. at f/16.

So, my question is what is the best way to set up my flash to shoot herps and insects. What I have is a Nikon D200 and a nikon sb-600. I normally shoot with 105mm f/2.8 VR lens. I would like to shoot 1/60 sec. at f/16. When I have used flash in the past at f/16 my exposure indicator shows the photo way under exposed so I switch the camera from normal flash to slow flash to get right exposure. Doing this will again slow speed down around a second. Am I suppose to just set it to 1/60 sec. f/16 and ignore the exposure indicators low exposure?

If anyone here could give me the best way to setup my flash and camera I would greatly appreciate it.


Re: Flash Photography?

Posted: July 26th, 2010, 1:38 pm
by Mike Waters
What type of equipment are you using. My flashes adjust themselves. I set up the camera how I want and the flash works accordingly. I'm sure someone else here can offer better advice.

Re: Flash Photography?

Posted: July 26th, 2010, 1:48 pm
by dthor68

Re: Flash Photography?

Posted: July 26th, 2010, 3:04 pm
by chrish
When using flash, I tend to use the native resolution of my camera sensor which is 200 (I think yours is the same). There is no value in going down to ISO 100 since you don't gain an improvement in image quality.

Your flash has a guide number of 138 feet at ISO 200 (I looked online ;) ). This means that it is powerful enough to provide adequate flash power at 138 divided by the f/stop. So at f/16, your flash should be good from up to 138/16 = 8.6 feet away. Even at ISO 100 it is good from 6 feet away. That should be plenty for most herp work!

Make sure your flash is set to Auto or TTL not to some reduced power setting.

Why are you shooting at 1/60th? Why not let the flash choose its own flash sync speed for your chosen aperture?
Just switch to aperture priority, set the aperture you want and let the flash choose its shutter speed to sync. You camera will sync at speeds of up to 1/500th of a second (or faster with some flashes).
Having a shutter speed longer than the flash is lit doesn't help anything since the subject is correctly exposed during the flash duration. If you leave the shutter open longer it can actually allow blurring or ghosting if there is enough ambient light. The flash duration for your flash is only 1/900th of a second at full power so you really should let the camera decide how long it needs the shutter open. Cameras are pretty smart now, if you allow them to be.

Re: Flash Photography?

Posted: July 26th, 2010, 4:32 pm
by dthor68
Here are the setting I have on camera:

ISO 100
Aperture Priority
Flash sync mode: Front sync at 0.0 (However, due to meter showing underexposure, I use slow sync)
Flash sync speed: 1/250 (auto fp)
Flash shutter speed: 1/60

Flash Settings:

M Zoom 14mm
ttl, bl, fp

I am not sure I understand what you are talking about. With the D200 the only mode that will select for you would be "P" or program mode. When I select that mode it will keep the shutter speed of 1/60 sec. and choose a f-stop at about f/4.5 with the ambiant light that I normally have. Also, the D200 normal ISO setting is indeed 100.

Re: Flash Photography?

Posted: July 26th, 2010, 4:50 pm
by Chad M. Lane
Set your camera to A mode or M, and set the SB-600 to TTL, then shoot, if it's underexposed set the SB-600 a 1/3 step up. Adjust as needed by distance, and you'll be fine. To change 1/3 step of light output, just click the + or the - to adjust.


Re: Flash Photography?

Posted: July 27th, 2010, 7:58 am
by dthor68
Thanks for replies. I actually figured it out on my own. I need to disregard the exposure meters low exposure reading and just shoot! I guess I will see how it works tomorrow in the Smokies.

Re: Flash Photography?

Posted: July 27th, 2010, 2:15 pm
by bgorum
On a D200 when you set flash shutter speed to 1/60 (using the menu on the back) that is the slowest speed the camera will set when trying to balance ambient and flash exposure. Thats where I leave mine set when I'm shooting at night and want the flash to be the only source of light. There is no option for anything faster in that menu and in the dark there is no difference between 1/60 and 1/250 which is the maximum synch speed on the D200. When working during the day and using flash as fill I'll set that speed to something really slow (one second or longer). I'm sure there are other ways of doing this, but to be honest since this works for me I've never bothered to explore any other way of setting flash synch.

Re: Flash Photography?

Posted: July 28th, 2010, 10:06 pm
by Erik Williams
When you set the flash mode to slow sync, the camera will choose a slow shutter speed for a good exposure without the flash. Slow sync attempts to balance flash and natural light. You'll need to set it to M mode if you want to set the shutter speed at 1/60.

The reason that the meter says the shot will be WAY underexposed is because the shot will be way underexposed. The meter cannot meter the flash until it actually fires, that's why it fires a preflash a fraction of a second before the real flash. Without the flash, f/16 and 1/60 requires a good amount of light to expose properly.