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How best to determine the initial amount of fill flash for a properly exposed bright, daytime, outdoor portrait?
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Oct 2, 2022 19:41:32   #
Shooter41 Loc: Wichita, KS
 
dpullum wrote:
Thank you Shooter. Your directions are one of those things that we should keep on 3x5 file card or on our smart phones. Cards are great for keeping directions of techniques we use rarely... spring and fall flowers. During the hot summer and cold winter we may forget our refined details; while cards may hide they do not forget.


Dear dpullum...Your suggestion to keep photo directions on a 3 x 5 file card is well taken. At age 81, I frequently forget things that I just currently learned and have to go back and relearn them for my next shoot. Getting old ain't fore sissies. Thank you for your helpful suggestion. Shooter41

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Oct 2, 2022 19:50:34   #
Grahame Loc: Fiji
 
There are a few ways you can tackle this and the methods can depend upon time available to you. E.g, does your model want to stand there while you chimp away and fiddle till you get what you want or are you taking a grab shot. The main thing to remember is that you are dealing with two exposures, that required for the background and that required for the subject. There are numerous tutorials that describe the methods and the various ratios used determining different results.

What I will comment on is the below;

Shooter41 wrote:
how should an excellent photographer initially set up her/his camera before taking the first picture and checking the histogram when doing outdoor, backlit with sunlight, portrait?
(1) Begin by taking a spot exposure reading of the subject's face.
(2) Set your aperture to create the depth of field you want.
(3) set your shutter speed to sync with the flash because the flash stops all movement like 1/1000th to 1/2000
second shutter speed
(4) set the ISO to "Auto" so that the correct exposure occurs.
how should an excellent photographer initially set... (show quote)


If you take a spot meter reading (1) of the subjects face it is in shadow. The "correct exposure" you refer to in (4) is taking no account of the bright background. Using this suggested exposure is highly likely to give you a blown background.

The first thing I would do is set/adjust the exposure for the background. In determining this I would take into account if I want it to be darker than the subject in the finished image. Once that has been done the ambient exposure should not be changed and it's a matter of adjusting the power of your fill light to achieve the ratio balance you want.

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Oct 2, 2022 19:59:37   #
Shooter41 Loc: Wichita, KS
 
Wallen wrote:
Those things you asked for are among the reasons why I advocate all manual and then shoot & chimp when dealing with flash. On a side note, in a (studio) setting, one may find the constant on lights to be easier to set-up and use.

About gels/filters:
If you find the flash too white for your preference:
-In JPEG setting, adjust the white balance in the camera.
-In RAW, adjust the white balance in post.
If you encounter and want to subdue a multiple cast light source, then use gel to filter/subdue unwanted color cast. Some scenes may benefit from polarizers.


Gel is good for film & for adjusting a scene which is lighted by different sources/colors of light.

The white balance in a digital camera allows us to adjust for the shade as we like. With film cameras, there is no in-camera white balance adjustment. That job is done with gels.
But if you encounter multiple shades of lighting striking your subject and wanted to control it, then the in-camera white balance may not be enough. What you can do is use a gel to filter the light to balance the scene or make it generally of one shade which can be easier to shift/adjust to something else at post.


About flash:
To answer your question directly, aside from the exposure settings of the camera, that distance will depend on how powerful the flash was set and the modifier on the flash like zoom settings, reflectors, diffusers, bounce, etc. Personal knowledge & experience with situations and your gear would tell more.

Generally speaking, a "point" source of light will spread out and hit a surface. Imagine a candle lighting a wall. If we half the distance of the candle to the wall, we might expect the illumination to increase in half, and if we double the distance, the illumination to be decreased in half too. But not is not the case.
If we half the distance, the increase in brightness would be more than double, and if we increase the distance twice, the dimness would be more than half what we started with. This is due to the inverse square law that affects illumination.

We do not have to compute for these or dream of the mumbo jumbos. Make it simple, just keep in mind that the power and distance of light source will affect the amount of light reflecting on the subject. If the flash power setting is constant, close is more and away is less. Do a test shot then adjust the power of the flash or move the light closer or away as needed or desired.

We need to include the control of distance & position of our lighting in our shoot so the exposure would be consistent. If the photographer, in looking for a better composition and has a flash on his camera, steps forward, then expect the exposure to change, possibly overexposing the subject. The reverse is true if he steps back.
Parts of the subject getting near the light set-up will have similar effects. If somehow, she raises a hand and it comes near your lights, that hand will be more exposed.

Many other stuffs, gears, modifiers & settings can change the effect but I'm sure by the time you get to use those, you have mastered the basics well and it would not be of much trouble.
Those things you asked for are among the reasons w... (show quote)


Dear Wallen...You are correct. Every indoor soccer season, I take pictures of the team mascot and the fans coming into the Arena to watch the Wichita Wings Indoor soccer team play on weekends. Once I found the best ISO for the least noise; the best aperture for tack sharp focus and the best shutter speed and distance from my on-camera flash that my digital, mirrorless camera likes for excellent exposure, I haven't changed the settings on my before game camera for many years. Thank you for aiding me in celebrating that feat. Shooter41


(Download)

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Oct 2, 2022 20:06:14   #
Shooter41 Loc: Wichita, KS
 
stan0301 wrote:
The Disney photographers set their flashes to two stops under and you can bet it was well researched


dEAR STAN0301...Having watched Disney for over seventy-five years, I am aware that they have a history of having excellent photographers. If they set their flashes two stops under the overall exposure, we can all bet it was well researched. One Question. Just how did you know how the Disney photographers set their flashes? (This isn't common knowledge.) Have you got an inside track to their techniques? I will be anxiously awaiting your reply. Shooter41

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Oct 2, 2022 23:57:14   #
TriX Loc: Raleigh, NC
 
Wallen wrote:
Do not set the camera to Auto ISO. This is one of the times you want everything under control, so full manual on all settings, keeping the shutter speed below the flash sync speed.

Then simply expose for the background you want, then chimp and adjust the power of the flash. Thats it.
Note that moving closer or further away from the subject will change the effect of the flash, same as adjusting it up or down.


I agree - mixing auto ISO with ETTL flash can produce unexpected and unpleasant results. While I generally love auto ISO + manual SS and aperture, I shoot flash full manual

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Oct 3, 2022 09:20:40   #
Wallen Loc: Middle Earth
 
Shooter41 wrote:
Dear Wallen...You are correct. Every indoor soccer season, I take pictures of the team mascot and the fans coming into the Arena to watch the Wichita Wings Indoor soccer team play on weekends. Once I found the best ISO for the least noise; the best aperture for tack sharp focus and the best shutter speed and distance from my on-camera flash that my digital, mirrorless camera likes for excellent exposure, I haven't changed the settings on my before game camera for many years. Thank you for aiding me in celebrating that feat. Shooter41
Dear Wallen...You are correct. Every indoor soccer... (show quote)


My pleasure to help

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Oct 3, 2022 09:21:02   #
Wallen Loc: Middle Earth
 
TriX wrote:
I agree - mixing auto ISO with ETTL flash can produce unexpected and unpleasant results. While I generally love auto ISO + manual SS and aperture, I shoot flash full manual



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Oct 6, 2022 18:51:36   #
Seabastes
 
With my Nikon TTL flash units, I find that setting the flash for Auto TTL and one stop under exposure is a good basic setting for fill flash work outdoors. I use the highest shutter speed the camera allows depending on the camera body.

ISO 200, 1/125th second,F4.5, flash set for one stop under ambient light exposure in TTL mode Nikon SB25

Subject was placed in the shade of a tree so Flash fill would give me the desired exposure combined with the available light reading.


(Download)


(Download)

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Oct 6, 2022 19:20:17   #
Seabastes
 
[quote=Seabastes]With my Nikon TTL flash units, I find that setting the flash for Auto TTL and one stop under exposure is a good basic setting for fill flash work outdoors.

This fishing photo of angler with silver salmon in Southeast Alaska was a real challenging exposure. Fortunately with digital I could see the result with the LCD screen on my Nikon.

I started out with one stop underexposure with my TTL flash. The result was too hot. I ended up setting the flash at three stops under-exposure to get the desired results. Had I been shooting film, I would have had to try several different exposures to get the desired image.

1/40 of a second, fill flash using TTL setting was set at three stops under exposure, ISO 200,



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Oct 13, 2022 17:32:00   #
flyboy61 Loc: The Great American Desert
 
We have a couple of quick ways that work very well. Not original with me, I got it from WWW.scantips.com."Fill Flash in Sunlight"
Plain TTL...pick a shutter speed that doesn't exceed your camera's Synch speed, lowest ISO selection, 100-200. "P" option: I now see why they call this "Professional" mode! Flash.. Minus 1 2/3- 2.0 compensation. Adjust as necessary.

BUT!!
TTLBL and "P" mode together will balance ambient and flash. Apparently, it figures in ~a -1 2/3 stop to balance incident light and flash very well, and needs minimal adjustment.

I used this for the first time last week at my Grandson's wedding, and it worked pretty well with my on-board flash.
You might want to practice a bit to get White Balance, etc. right. Should work with a shoe mount flash, too.

I understand most 3rd party flashes are now being built as TTLBL, but you might want to check.

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Oct 13, 2022 23:24:23   #
Wallen Loc: Middle Earth
 
flyboy61 wrote:
We have a couple of quick ways that work very well. Not original with me, I got it from WWW.scantips.com."Fill Flash in Sunlight"
Plain TTL...pick a shutter speed that doesn't exceed your camera's Synch speed, lowest ISO selection, 100-200. "P" option: I now see why they call this "Professional" mode! Flash.. Minus 1 2/3- 2.0 compensation. Adjust as necessary.

BUT!!
TTLBL and "P" mode together will balance ambient and flash. Apparently, it figures in ~a -1 2/3 stop to balance incident light and flash very well, and needs minimal adjustment.

I used this for the first time last week at my Grandson's wedding, and it worked pretty well with my on-board flash.
You might want to practice a bit to get White Balance, etc. right. Should work with a shoe mount flash, too.

I understand most 3rd party flashes are now being built as TTLBL, but you might want to check.
We have a couple of quick ways that work very well... (show quote)
Metering plays a big role on how the get the first shot right.
In TTL mode, the camera fires the flash twice. The first one is a test burst that the camera use to adjust exposure and the second one to actually take the shot. If using Spot or (small)group metering, one can get the subject on correct exposure the first time, but the background may need adjustment.
Matrix or larger group metering will adjust according to a bigger sampling area of light so it can be a hit or miss on either the subject or the background. Either way, a test shot then chimping and flash adjustment will be the general process.
TTL-BL (through the lens metering-backlit) uses a center weighted metering mode. It samples the whole frame but prioritize the focused area. This usually get the proper exposure the first time.

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Nov 10, 2022 05:32:29   #
... meanwhile somewhere in Norway Loc: none
 
Keep things simple... first, shoot in manual mode... then expose the back-round to your taste with your ISO and aperture adjustments.

Next fill flash at 1/250 second and 1/4 power from you flash, then adjust the flash power for the best exposure for the subject.

The only thing that will change your back-round exposure is your aperture or ISO. If you want a totally black back-round on a sunny day, then use a restricted aperture and the lowest possible ISO, then fill flash the subject the same way. your back-round will not change unless you alter the ISO or Aperture. An ND filter can help if you want to open up the lens for a softer back-round.

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Nov 16, 2022 20:03:28   #
E.L.. Shapiro Loc: Ottawa, Ontario Canada
 
The first step is to understand the concept of lighting ratio. Whether you are shooting in a studio with multiple lights or out of doors with flash fill, the lighting ratio is the difference in intensity between the main and fill light sources.

Here is the encyclopedic definition: Lighting ratio in photography refers to the comparison of key light (the main source of light from which shadows fall) to the fill light (the light that fills in the shadow areas). The higher the lighting ratio, the higher the contrast of the image; the lower the ratio, the lower the contrast.

For example, a 2:1 ratio occurs when one side has twice as much ligh as the other. Understanding this provides the photograher with a method of controlling the mood, key, drama, and modeling of the image. This is especially useful in portraiture.

Flash fill is extremely useful when the main source of light is direct sunlight which usually creates very dense shadows lackg in detail. The amount of fill determines the degree of detail in the shadows. Too little or no fill can result in harsh shadows which can be unflattering in a portrait. Too much fill can flatten the image by negating all the shadow density thereby creating an image that has NO depth dimensionality, or modeling.

When you work in a studio with a controlled light you can simply adjust the effect of the man and fill light sources and create the ratio of your choice. You can expose for the main light and increase and decrease the output of the fill source or move the fill light closer to further away to achieve the desired ratio. Attenuating the fill light with a difusser or modifier or feathering it somewhat off-axis is anotere form of control over the filtration. When you work out-of-doors you can not control the volume of the ambient light so you need to expose the existing light and adjust the fill flash accordingly. Usually, you will want the flash fill, depending on the effect you want to achieve, to be anywhere from 1 to 4 stops weaker that the main source. You can use an incident light meter that can read ambient light and flash, make comparative readings, and find the appropriate settings. These calculations, of course, require some time and deliberate setting up. If, however, you are shootg action that requires fast shooting, here is an old press and wedding photographer fast-track method. You must first KNOW your flash exposure instinctively, based on its guide number and number/distance calculations, and be able to judge distance and set eh aperture by rote. If you want a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio, after you set the EXPOSURE FOR THE FLASH, simply set the shutter speed for the correct daylight at THAT APERATURE.

In bright sun conditions, we used to call the method synchro-sunlight. This method can also be applied to overcast, open shade and even low ligh situations provided you can power down the flash sufficiently to accommodate the required aperture. Many years ago, Braun made a customized Speedlight to accommodate
subtle window ligt at wide apertures. They produced a "Hoodwinker" that mounted on the lens shade- dead flat fill. on the lens shade and had 2 outputs, 6 and 12-watt seconds. They could produce a nice ratio at f/2.8 or f/4 just a "wink" of light to fill in the shadows and create a delicate effect. That meant at around 5 feet camera to the subject, the flash was coming at f/1.4 or f/ 2.8 where the aperture was set at f/ 4 or f/5.6 in accordance with the soft window light.

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