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Rumors => Speedlites, Printers, Accessories => Topic started by: MagnumJoe on April 07, 2013, 09:10:33 PM

Title: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: MagnumJoe on April 07, 2013, 09:10:33 PM
Hello All,
 I live on the emerald coast, between Panama City Beach and Destin, Florida. As a hobbyist photographer, I went out to shoot two young ladies today against a 1 o'clock sun sky with a canon 6d, a canon 430ex II, Yongnuo YN568EX, beauty dish, reflectors, umbrellas and soon on. Needless to say, I didn't have enough power. Just learning, it took me a good 30 minutes to figure it all out.  In this environment would a light meter had help me out?  I'm learning, and I'm not sure how well a bright day, speed lites and a light meter would work together.  The meter I'm wondering about is the Sekonic L-358 Flash Master Light Meter.
Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: RLPhoto on April 07, 2013, 09:20:06 PM
HSS could kill the ambient light or more speedlite. Shooting mid-day is begging for a Studio strobe for raw output.
Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: bycostello on April 07, 2013, 09:23:58 PM
midday sun your problem...  try going out in morning or evening instead...
Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: MagnumJoe on April 07, 2013, 09:32:23 PM
midday sun your problem...  try going out in morning or evening instead...

Thanks bycostello, I know those are the best time, but I watched one of those BHPhotos workshop videos last night called "Getting The Most Out Of Canon Speedlites", by Syl Arena.  I just need more experience. :) 
Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: scottkinfw on April 07, 2013, 10:51:55 PM
I'm no expert, but HSS or use Pocket wizard for the hypersync. 

Golden hours are easiest, best, outdoor lighting, and you can use your fills and scrims, and reflectors, etc. 

sek
Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: Jamesy on April 08, 2013, 11:24:11 AM
To kill the ambient you need a higher sync speed. Aperture controls flash and shutter controls ambient.

You are shooting a 6D which has a max shutter speed of 1/180 but the only way to obtain that is to set the camera up in half stops rather than third stops other wise the fastest sync you can get is 1/160.

That said, 1/180 in full sun, ISO100 still requires likely more power than you have in a 568EX and 430EXII. HSS drops the power output of your strobes considerably. Try to look for shade of scrim your subject from full sun.
Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: Jamesy on April 08, 2013, 12:49:27 PM

If you want  a darker background and are at sync speed, close your aperture one stop and increase flash power one stop and the subject is the same brightness and the ambient is one stop darker. If you are at sub sync speed sure leave everything else the same and just shorten shutterspeed, but that wasn't what I was talking about. The most efficient way to underexpose ambient, as a starting point, is sync speed and base iso.

The OP is using underpowered strobes for the job. Full sun, midday, is not the ideal scenario for a 568EX and 430EXII. At base ISO (100) and max sync speed of 160/180 on the 6D, the option of stopping down to say F8 or F11 would require more power than those little lights can put out. This is why David Hobby loves the Nikon D70 as it has a max sync of 1/500. I think some Canon 1d series have that too.

You can also use an ND filter on your camera but again it requires the light to work really hard to over power the sun.
Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: Jamesy on April 08, 2013, 01:12:02 PM
OP: Here is a useful article on balancing ambient with flash outdoors: http://strobist.blogspot.ca/2006/03/lighting-101-balancing-flash-and.html (http://strobist.blogspot.ca/2006/03/lighting-101-balancing-flash-and.html)

To your earlier question, a lightmeter is a very useful piece of equipment to own if you intend to do manual flash photography. If you are only planning on doing ETTL flash then they are are pretty much useless to you. I bought one for a workshop I did a couple of years ago where it was a course requirement and love not having to guesstimate the exposure.
Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: ishdakuteb on April 08, 2013, 01:16:24 PM
first, i have to say that i am not an expert in strobist.  i am just like you, just start reading, researching and learning.  however, your problem might be the use of E-TTL if i am corretly guess based on my knowledge of speedlite.  either not to use E-TTL under extreme sun light or have to compensate the flash power...
Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: Jamesy on April 08, 2013, 01:29:39 PM
ambient."[/b] when we are already talking about max sync you are implying use of HSS and guarantees you will run out of power sooner, that is not the best way to continue darkening ambient, closing aperture and upping flash power is.
I never implied HSS or ETTL, pure manual all the way. I agree with you if you are at the base camera ISO of say 100 and max sync then the only other thing to do to kill ambient is stop down the aperture and/or increase flash power. My point is, full sun, midday you may run out of gas in those tiny strobes.

OP: I still feel anyone playing with manual strobes would benefit form a light meter. I have a Sekonic L-358 - very helpful tool to quickly establish your ambient/flash exposure mix.
Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: Oupstd on April 08, 2013, 01:31:21 PM
Regarding ND filters, do you need to use "circular" ND filters or can you use rectangular filters such a lee filters...
I have lee filters for landscape, but I am wondering if it is a good idear to use them for a portrait shoot...
thanks for the advices

Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: Jamesy on April 08, 2013, 01:35:56 PM
Regarding ND filters, do you need to use "circular" ND filters or can you use rectangular filters such a lee filters...
I have lee filters for landscape, but I am wondering if it is a good idear to use them for a portrait shoot...
thanks for the advices
I believe an ND filter is an ND filter - it cuts doen the light coming into the lens. The square system is merely films that drop into the square holder. I have only ever used a cheap eBay variable ND filter that screws on the lens - I have heard the Lee filters are high end for architectural use but I see no reason they could not be used for a portrait.
Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: Oupstd on April 08, 2013, 01:52:06 PM
I have no doubt that they are of good quality. My concern, is more will they fall and brake...
I am sure that if take care of them while shooting there will be no problem, but if I forget they might fall... Just wanted to have some feedback from people who are using these type of filters...
Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: ishdakuteb on April 08, 2013, 02:12:49 PM
Regarding ND filters, do you need to use "circular" ND filters or can you use rectangular filters such a lee filters...
I have lee filters for landscape, but I am wondering if it is a good idear to use them for a portrait shoot...
thanks for the advices
I believe an ND filter is an ND filter - it cuts doen the light coming into the lens. The square system is merely films that drop into the square holder. I have only ever used a cheap eBay variable ND filter that screws on the lens - I have heard the Lee filters are high end for architectural use but I see no reason they could not be used for a portrait.

+1 to "ND filter is an ND filter"... and if i understand correctly, there are only two kind of nd filters which are fixed and variable.  i have not heard about circular nd filter.  i am not sure if you meant variable nd filter.  however, variable nd filters are great, but expensive.  i guess that would not be a problem to you since you can afford for lee filter  :P
Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: MagnumJoe on April 08, 2013, 09:46:14 PM
Thank you all, you've been a tremendous help, I'm going again Saturday with ND Filter in hand. Would the Tiffen 77VND 77MM VARIABLE ND FILTER be a good choice?
Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: gbchriste on April 08, 2013, 10:24:00 PM
Like others said, you just can't get there with 1 or 2 speedlights in mid-day Emerald Coast sun.  Not enough power. 

I'm in Fort Walton Beach so not too far from you.  With a 430EX II in an umbrella, I usually can't start shooting on the beach until 30 to 60 minutes before sundown.
Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: Jamesy on April 08, 2013, 10:25:28 PM
Thank you all, you've been a tremendous help, I'm going again Saturday with ND Filter in hand. Would the Tiffen 77VND 77MM VARIABLE ND FILTER be a good choice?
I just re-read your original post and if you did not have enough power last time and the only thing you change is adding an ND filter then you won't have enough power adding an ND - you would need more power to overcome the stops of light you would loose with the ND filter.

Is it possible to get your lights closer to your subject?

I cannot comment on the quality of a Tiffen Vari-ND. I know the Stingray's are good but they are very expensive.
Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: MagnumJoe on April 08, 2013, 10:38:38 PM
Like others said, you just can't get there with 1 or 2 speedlights in mid-day Emerald Coast sun.  Not enough power. 

I'm in Fort Walton Beach so not too far from you.  With a 430EX II in an umbrella, I usually can't start shooting on the beach until 30 to 60 minutes before sundown.

You're right, I'll plan on trying again later in the day Saturday, unless it's cloudy. :)
Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: swampler on April 08, 2013, 10:38:50 PM
The light modifiers kill a lot of your flash output. You may have to try bare flash. In outdoor sun, keeping within a stop or two of ambient, bare flash should be acceptable quality. Better than no flash or on camera flash for sure.
Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: MagnumJoe on April 08, 2013, 10:45:36 PM
The light modifiers kill a lot of your flash output. You may have to try bare flash. In outdoor sun, keeping within a stop or two of ambient, bare flash should be acceptable quality. Better than no flash or on camera flash for sure.

You're spot on, when I was at the beach I was using a beauty dish.

We finally went bare and it was usable underneath the pier.  I did further test today in my backyard, using a light stand and a red hoodie as my model.   I'm beginning to understand the concept now. Thank you all for your comments.

Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: digital paradise on April 10, 2013, 10:28:18 AM
If you want to make your life easier get a flash/light meter like the Sekonic L-358. Spend more if you got the cash. You will not regret it.
 
Digital Photography 1 on 1: Episode 27: Metering Part 3: Using a light meter (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOxJvwcmADg#ws)

Digital Photography 1 on 1: Episode 20: On Location Flash (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwISm7C6fiY#ws)

Videos - Tutorials - Lighting Tutorial

http://www.stansphotos.com (http://www.stansphotos.com)
Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: MagnumJoe on April 10, 2013, 09:45:41 PM
Yes because in this situation the $300 meter is going to say how much too little power you have! Surely it would be a much better investment to buy two more flashes to enable the picture to be taken?

For one subject I can easily underexpose the brightest Florida sunlight by 5 stops at 1/8000 and f8 with three 600's, the 580 and 430 re going to be about half that, so 1/8000 at f5.6. Easily enough to work with, just go easy on the modifiers and be realistic in the area you expect to illuminate.

I agree with you privatebydesign, for now I'm going to shoot later in the day, with the 2 speedlites I have.  For 300.00 I could almost buy 2 more Yongnuo YN-565EXs.  What's your thoughts on using a AlienBees B800 ?
Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: digital paradise on April 10, 2013, 11:33:00 PM
You will have more power with studio strobes which will make things easier but you will still be guessing to achieve correct exposures.     
Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: digital paradise on April 11, 2013, 12:49:51 AM
Of course it is not rocket science. Very nice example by the way ;)  Maybe I'm lazy but when I do standard portraits, etc I just find it so quick and easy to set the flash exposure when working with key and fill. Photo booths I can do with my eyes closed but I still use the L-358 even with only one flash/umbrella. One or two exposure tests and I'm there.

I find the flash meter most beneficial when I want to balance the ambient light with flash when shooting outdoors. I can pretty much work through everything quickly but that scenario is the most challenging.  I just prefer technology to tell me I'm bang on. To me it is a fine line to get those perfectly balanced images.   
Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: MagnumJoe on April 11, 2013, 11:38:22 PM
You will have more power with studio strobes which will make things easier but you will still be guessing to achieve correct exposures.   
Well I think you will find Florida sun follows the sunny 16 rule pretty closely, so not too much guessing, besides Magnum can look at his EXIF from last week to see what exposures he was getting. Besides, chimping and histograms will get him good exposures!

Working this stuff out is not rocket science, 100iso @ 1/100 and f16 will give you a pretty close exposure in full sunlight, if the sun is in the picture then you will need a stop or so more of shutter speed. So how much darker, or lighter, than the ambient do you want your subject? If you want them brighter you have to have the flash power to shoot at f16 at 1/160 (sync speed?). Shooting at f22 and 1/160 will get your subject around two stops above ambient.

Here is a shot of the brightest Florida sun underexposed 5 stops (from metered) with sponge bob and the chair illuminated with three 600 EX-RT's, it is 1/8000 at f 8 and 100iso, you could do the same shot with a 580 and a 430 at f5.6 in HSS, or to stay out of the power sapping HSS you'd then need an ND filter to lower your shutter speed 6 stops or close your lens down to a diffraction killed f44. Yes an Alien Bee would help, it is much more powerful then even my three 600's, but again you'd need an ND filter to lower the ambient and keep below sync speed.


Hi privatebydesign and digital paradise thank you both for the tips.  I'm thinking of returning the Yongnuo 568ex and and maybe the ST-E2, and buying a Alien Bee b800,  a Vagabond Mini.  I'm still researching if it the ST-E2 will work with the Alien Bee, I think it will, just not 100 percent.

privatebydesign thank you for the example photo of spongebob... It was perfect, and you describe it well.  I hope I can do as well someday.

Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: MagnumJoe on April 12, 2013, 07:04:39 PM
I have an ST-E2, in bright sun they are pretty much useless, if you can get your money back then do it. Even if it would trigger the Alien Bee (which I doubt) it is a very expensive and inefficient way to do it. A set of Yongnuo RF-603's would be a much better way to trigger the Alien Bee, much better range, much much cheaper and it would work.

But slow down, don't bounce from one not optimal purchase to another, the Alien Bee will necessitate use of an ND filter if you want narrow dof or you want to really darken the ambient, each solution has its own drawbacks . Send us a link to the style of image you want, lighting wise, we can reverse engineer it and tell you how and when to achieve the look with the gear you have, believe me you have enough to get great images. Or come spend the day with me down near the Space Coast when I am next in Florida.

These images were all shot near St Pete's with one small on camera type strobe, a 550EX I seem to remember, a set of RF-602's and a 28" softbox, all at different times during a very sunny day.

Amazing photos, that's exactly the type of photographs I'd like to take as well as sunsets on the beach.  After reading your post, I suppose that's why the flash would only trigger  half the time at best, using the ST-T2 when I was in the sun, however when we moved under the pier, it works just fine. You mentioned RF-603s, would the YN622 work as well so that I can use ETTL, until I have a better understanding and more experience at shooting in this type of condition? I paid 225.00 for the ST-E2 , I can get the YN-622's for half the price.  Yes I can return it.

I plan on going again this weekend, however not until around 5 - 7 pm central time.  I plan on taking my 6d, tripod, both the 430ex ii and YN568EX with stands, umbrellas but I'm not sure if I'll use them. I also bought two Tiffen ND filters .09 just to try it out, I'll start with one, and may stack the other just to experiment.  I appreciate the help from all of you.
Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: MagnumJoe on April 12, 2013, 08:29:56 PM
Sweet, if I was you I'd start simple.

This is my advice:-
  • Send the ST-E2 back, they are very limited in functionality and reliability, especially how you are trying to use one, outside in full sun, inside modifiers and off axis, just about the worst situation for the ST-E2.
  • Buy a set of RF-603's, they are dirt cheap, very reliable, etc. They are just dumb triggers but all my previous images were shot with them.
  • Buy this book, http://www.amazon.com/Speedliters-Handbook-Learning-Craft-Speedlites/dp/032171105X (http://www.amazon.com/Speedliters-Handbook-Learning-Craft-Speedlites/dp/032171105X)
  • Don't buy anything else until you have read the book, seriously it should come free with every Canon Speedlite.

Now when you go to your shoot set your camera like this. Manual mode for both camera AND flash. Forget ETTL for this initially, I promise manual is the way to get your head around it, trust me.

Set camera to M, 100iso, 1/180 shutter, f8. Take a picture with the flash off. How bright is the picture? If you want the ambient darker then close your aperture, if you want it lighter lengthen your shutter speed, you do not need your model in the shot yet, we are just working out ambient exposure. Get your ambient exposure dialed in, if it is setting sun watch the light it lowers fast so you need to keep lengthening your shutter speed.

Now get your model in position, take a shot, is the ambient still right? If so turn the flash on at 1/2 power, use as little modification as possible, no double diffusers etc, and put the flash as close to the model as possible, even 6 inches can make a huge difference. Take the picture, if your model is too dark raise the flash power, if they are too light lower the flash power.

That is the basics, once you nail that then start playing with the two exposure triangles I mentioned earlier in the thread. For instance if both ambient and subject are too dark raise iso or open aperture.

But get that book!

Thank you so much, I'll follow your advice, I actually bought that book (kindle) version just 3 days ago.  Thank's again.
Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: MagnumJoe on April 12, 2013, 11:59:45 PM
prrivatebydesign,  I'm currently watching one of Sly's videos and I have a question.  You gave me the starting points today  with ambient light and how to adjust the power.  You really have no idea how much you are helping.....what should I set my zoom to ?
Title: Re: Light Meter & SpeedLites
Post by: MagnumJoe on April 14, 2013, 08:38:18 PM
That depends on how close the light is to the model and what type of diffuser, if any, you are using. In strong sunlight you can often go with bare flash, then zoom the flash head to cover whatever you want, if it is in a modifier then you should practice what zoom gets the best light output, this will be critical in things like a beauty dish. Do that by taking a picture of your modifier from the front with the flash firing, then you will see the spread efficiency, then take a picture with the modifier pointed to a plain wall, this will show you your coverage, not being even isn't necessarily a problem, just remeber how the light falls and use that to your advantage.

The flash zoom is a greatly under thought about modifier, it's real beauty is zoomed to long focal lengths to get spot lights with falloff.

In my Lastolite 28" box I normally have one diffusion panel and 50mm zoom on the flash head, if I want the light smaller with more drop off I will go narrower, one of the small but very worthwhile improvements of the 600EX-RT is the zoom to 200mm.

But remember, in power limited situations always go to max zoom, get the light in close and accept the fall off.

Well I gave it my best shot, learned a lot and had a good time.  Can't wait to go again. Here are a couple of photos. Yes I used LR to touch them up.