Matthew Kees is a very talented photographer and teacher. He is doing a 5 part series on the MCP Actions Blog on Using a Modern Flash for Portraits. I am excited to share his knowledge and expertise with all of my readers. These tutorials will launch once every other week. On the alternate weeks, time permitting, Matthew will look through the “comment section” and answer some of your questions. So make sure to ask your questions directly in the comment section about this post.
This is Part 2 of 5.
by Matthew L Kees, guest to the MCP Actions Blog
Director of MLKstudios.com Online Photography Course [MOPC]
Using TTL Flash Indoors (“freeze or i’ll shoot…”)
In TTL mode, a sensor inside the camera body controls the amount of light produced by the flash, so you get a perfect (or near perfect) flash exposure every time. To make your first flash experience as easy as possible set the flash to TTL.
When shooting indoors, since the flash is creating a majority of the light, it becomes the “key” light or main light in the exposure. A correct exposure is based on the key light and the flash/camera’s dedicated TTL ability is controlling that for you. You can pretty much ignore the camera’s built-in exposure meter.
To begin, set your ISO to 400, the f/stop to f/8 for close in work, or f/4 for distance or when bouncing the light, and a low shutter speed of around 1/30 for normal interior lighting. If you have some window light, increase the shutter speed to 1/60. For a lot of window light change the ISO to 200.
The slow shutter isn’t going to cause motion blur as the quickness of the flash light will freeze the subject. What it does, is add a little bit of room or ambient light to the exposure, to make the image less “flashy”.
Straight on, the flash will give a correctly exposed image but not a very flattering one. The best way to use flash indoors is to bounce the light off a wall or ceiling. When you do this, the TTL system might not give you enough exposure, so you compensate for this by increasing the EV setting of the flash.
With Nikon you simply hold down the flash pop-up button and turn the command dial till you see EV=+1.0 (one stop over). The flash compensation can be set in one-third stop increments (EV=0.3) so you can fine tune the exposure to your liking. Canon uses a scale for FEC from EV=-2.0 to EV=+2.0 (two stops under to two stops over) with short hash marks for the one-third stop settings.
You can also bounce the flash off a piece of foamcore to give you more control of the position of the key light. A round reflector, often used as a fill outdoors, works too. A second piece of foamcore will act as a fill for a very inexpensive “portrait lighting” set-up.
This is a quick start tutorial but hopefully will be enough to get you started making good indoor portraits using flash light.< >< ><–>