Manual or TTL

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by hjoseph7, Jan 13, 2019.

  1. What Flash mode do you use when shooting flash at a wedding Manual, or TTL or both ? I usually put my camera on manual and my Flash on TTL. I look at the distance gauge on my Flash(Canon 580 EX II) to determine when I'm in range then I fire away. However I'm not too crazy about the results and I'm thinking about going Manual. In one book I read recently, the author recommends putting the flash on Manual at 1/4 power f5.6 @ 1/125 sec then firing some test shot to see if you are in range.

    This is OK if you are shooting still subjects, or Portraits but at a busy wedding I would think that you also need to take the guide number into consideration. Back in the days of film the formula was (guide number divided by flash-to-subject-distance). i would expect this formula to still be viable except that in the age of Digital you are dealing with a varying ISO. Is there an easier way to use manual flash or do I have to start taping a little chart on my flash unit ?
  2. There is no ONE magic flash mode.
    "One size does not fit all,"
    and "a jack of all trades, is a master of none."

    You NEED to learn each mode; manual, auto and TTL.
    Then based on the situation select the mode that is appropriate for the shoot.
    And you have to be prepared to switch modes, if the situation calls for it. Again, one size does not fit all.

    Varying ISO ????
    Please explain.
    I always shoot with a manually set ISO. I do not use auto ISO when I shoot flash.
    peggybair likes this.
  3. What I meant by "Varying ISO" is that with Digital you can change the ISO at will. With film you were stuck with the ISO on the film inside your camera.
  4. Then that is easy.
    You just change the ISO setting on the flash when you change the ISO on the camera.
  5. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Using Digital Cameras, I used M Mode for the Camera and Flash in TTL Mode and used FEC (Flash Exposure Compensation) to fine tune the Flash Exposure as required.

    The above describes one of the two more common methods I have noted that most Pro Wedding Photographers used - obviously that was not sourced from a poll, just my simple observations, over several years.

    The other more common method is Camera on Aperture Priority and Flash an TTL and again using FEC to fine tune the Flash Exposure: this also may allow Camera Exposure Compensation to be used.

    There are subtle differences between Manufacturers as to how the Flash TTL; FEC; and Camera Exposure Compensation work - it is important to know exactly how (especially Flash TTL and FEC) will work in different lighting situations, when you are shooting under the pressure of time and/or on the hop, moving between lighting situations: the most extensive technical errors I have noted is between the sets of images - 'Bride arrive at venue' - 'Bride enter venue' - 'Bride and Groom prepare to exit venue' - 'Bride and Groom outside venue'.

    Also, there may be subtle differences between Manufacturers as to how Aperture Priority Mode's Shutter Speed SELECTION will work when a Flash is detected - this also is an important detail to understand.

    I used Canon DSLRs and Fuji (Leaf Shutter) Digital Cameras for the last Weddings that I shot. The Canon I used as described above, but the Fuji I didn't use FEC, because in the situations when I used the Leaf Shutter, I wanted as much Flash power as possible.

    I have always noted the (approximate) Effective Flash Distance (derived from the GN). When I was beginning I had a note of that distance (for typical ISO/Apertures) on my Flash Units, but now that information is second nature to me.

    I think it is a very good idea to know those distances: IME a large number of Wedding Photographers shoot with "Flash As Fill" at distances well beyond their Flash's ability and/or with Diffusers and/or Reflectors which might considerably reduce the Flash's Effective Flash Range - and they latter wonder why the flash seems to have such a little or no affect.

    An additional word of caution relates to using HSS (High Speed Sync) Flash, I think this can be quite dangerous because the Effective Flash Working Distance is reduced and, IME, that is often not compensated by a closer Flash Distance, Higher ISO, or larger Aperture.

    The other word of caution relates to using ND Filters as a conduit to use very large apertures to gain shallow DoF when using Flash as Fill - I've seen this to stuff up badly when the operators fail to realize that the ND does not affect the relationship between the Flash Exposure and the Ambient Exposure - and one needs a truckload of Flash 'power' to use as fill at F/1.4, on a sunny day.

    I think it is poor , and unprofessional to go to any job armed with one 'flash exposure solution' (as described in the OP - "putting the flash on Manual at 1/4 power f5.6 @ 1/125 sec then firing some test shot to see if you are in range") and then take a few shots to see if you are "in the range".

    Test shots are fine and are helpful - but a pro would know (should know) that if you need to fill at Flash Distance = 18ft; ISO 100 ~ 200; outside on a sunny day, then you're not going to get much Flash Fill at 1/4 power at f/5.6 and moreover, your Ambient Exposure will likely be stuffed anyway if you're setting f/5.6 @ 1/125 sec.

    Last edited: Jan 25, 2019
    mikemorrell and Gary Naka like this.
  6. I use what ever mode gets me the right exposure at any given situation. Master them both so you know when to switch between the two.
    peggybair and Gary Naka like this.
  7. I wouldn't use the GN as it only works with direct flash.
  8. Take in some interesting information from Neil Van Niekerk. Google him. Flash is something that requires mastering - it is necessary and worth it.

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