Thursday, February 21, 2008

7. How to Shoot Large Groups with Nikon CLS

Shooting a large group, say 40 people or more, using only two Nikon SB800s in umbrellas is a challenge, but you can get decent results if you do it right. SB800s are fairly low power flashes for this type of work, so placement of the equipment is crucial. Here is an example of a recent group shot I took with just this equipment:




Notice that this image is far from perfect, but it is acceptable. It clearly shows some of the standard problems you usually run into with a large group and small flashes.

I used my camera in Manual mode and the flashes in TTL mode. I used the pop-up flash as the Commander with a Nikon SG-3IR filter in front of it. The SB800 only responds to IR light that enters through the small round red window, and since the the pop-up Commander puts out both visible and IR, the SG-3IR is useful to supress the visible portion of the light to help keep people from blinking.

In a large room like this, where there are no walls or ceiling from which the preflash pulses can reflect, the SB800 flashes in umbrellas must have their round red IR windows facing the Commander, or the preflash pulses from the Commander will not control or fire them.

As you may be able to tell, the ambient light was strong, and it was some weird mercury vapor color so there was no way to match the flash to it. Therefore, there is a slight color shift between the front row and the back row indicating that the front row was lit mainly by the flash, but the farther away from the flash you get the more the ambient had an effect.

Holding focus from the front row to the back row is always a challenge. You address this by creating as much depth of field as possible by using as small an f/ stop as possible. However, the smaller the f/ stop you use, the more power is needed from the flashes to provide enough light.

You also want to have the rows stand as close together as possible. Notice how closely the rows are standing to each other in this image.

I used f/5.6 on this shot, because that was the smallest aperture I could use and still get adequate lighting from my flashes. I set the camera in Continuous Servo AF with the switch on the front of the camera, CSM a1 to FPS Rate (ie, Release Priority), and CSM a6 AF-ON Only (ie to focus only when the AF-ON button is pressed). This allows me to aim at the second row, push the AF-ON button to focus (or use manual focus if I want to), and then recompose to place the group in the frame as I want it, and then push the shutter button to take the shot, and the green focus light doesn't have to be on for the shutter to release. This shifts the focus toward the middle of the group so depth of field is optimum for getting everyone sharp. F/5.6 is barely adequate for holding focus across a group this large. F/8 would have been more desireable if I were using say three or four SB800's.

I put my two SB800s in reflecting umbrellas on my ten foot stands extended as high as they would go, and angled them down so the light would come from above the group as much as possible which minimizes the fall-off of light from front to back.

Also, for a large group, you must place the umbrellas as close as possible to the group to minimize the Square Law light fall-off. In this case, I placed the umbrellas about three feet on either side of the camera and moved as close to the group as possible. This meant I needed to use the 17mm wide angle position on my lens.

I also had to leave some room at both sides of the frame for cropping. If you fill the frame from edge to edge, you will be able to print an 8x12 print, but not the standard 8x10. I have never been able to find a low cost 8x12 frame anywhere, but 8x1o frames can be bought at Walmart for $6.00. When I shoot a group, I simply look at the frame as though it is an 8x12 print and remember to leave one inch on each end.

I used a fairly slow 1/60th second shutter to allow the background to show.

Then there is the reflectivity issue. In this shot the group was mostly dressed in all-black, so the problem I had was to get the remote flashes to fire at the correct power. Black does not reflect light very well, so the flash metering system thinks it needs to increase the flash power high enough to create the reflection. This will totally blow out the faces. In this case, I decreased each remote channel on the Commander by -1.3 ev, and that corrected this problem.

Once I got the flash power where I wanted it, I locked it in with the FV Lock button. This button fires the preflash sequence and locks in the resulting power as determined by the flash metering system. This step is very important if you will be taking several group shots and you want them all to look the same.

One more problem with shooting groups is how to get everyone's eyes open. I tell everyone to blink quickly for a few seconds, while I am counting to three, and then I say 'Hold your eyes open' just before pushing the shutter. That works pretty well, but I also take at least three shots of each pose, so if there is a person with eyes closed, I can copy just the eyes in photoshop from a good image and paste them onto the final group image.

Additional Information On Shooting the Group Shot Above:

When you use SB800s in remote mode the red AF-Assist lamp in the SB800 doesn't come on, so then the choice of AF-S versus AF-C is only based on focus performance in ambient light.In this case, I was using the pop-up flash as a commander, and for group shots I usually keep the white AF Assist lamp in the camera turned Off with CSM a9, because it causes some people in the group to squint.

Obviously there has to be enough ambient light for the focus without any AF assist lamp. If there isn't enough light, then I normally go back to an SB800 mounted on the camera (or on a bracket) in commander mode, and switch to AF-S so the red AF Assist Lamp will come on.

However, assuming enough ambient for focus, in addition to AF-C, I have set the focus to use only the AF-ON button, and the priority on FPS (Release Priority). This way pushing the shutter button no longer has any effect on focus.

The main thing I am trying to achieve is accurate focus on a specific point somewhere in the middle of the group. I have found that with AF-C mode it is simple to hold down the AF-ON button and move the camera aim around and observe various points within the group pop into focus. Then, when I get the point I want, I release the AF-ON button and the camera stays focused at that spot while I recompose to place the group within the frame where I want it. Then the focus stays fixed on that point for a series of shots. I also watch the green focus lamp in the viewfinder to make sure the camera thinks it is in focus when I think it is.

I could use AF-S mode in Release Priority too, but then to get the focus on exactly the point I want requires pushing and releasing the AF-ON button repeatedly, because in AF-S mode, once it achieves what it thinks is 'focus' it stops trying, and it usually doesn't end up focused on exactly what I want it on. I like the focus to keep 'trying' until it gets to what I want.

Another way to handle focus is to use the AF to do the initial focus and switch to Manual Focus once focus is achieved. Then focus remains fixed for the rest of the shoot.This is actually the way I do it most often when using a tripod.

And for this group shot, I used ISO 400 and WB on Flash. Sometimes I use Daylight WB when shooting flash, which will make the image slightly cooler. But I never use a custom WB when using flash, unless I use gels to match the flash to the ambient. Then, I use PRE to set a custom WB that matches the ambient.

43 comments:

Chris said...

Russ, thanks for this very helpful explanation. Had a couple of questions.

Why did you use AF-C vs AF-S? I always use AF-C for action, but for indoor, stationary subjects, I use AF-S. I also think (tho' I don't think you had one on) that the SB-800 infrared assist lamp won't fire unless you're in AF-S. Maybe that's why I'm always in AF-S.

And, what WB did you use? Did you set a custom WB, or Auto?

Finally, what ISO?

Thanks,

Chris

Russ MacDonald said...

Chris,

Excellent questions. I will add a discussion about that to my blog after I try a quick answer here.

First, when you use SB800s in remote mode the red AF-Assist lamp in the SB800 doesn't come on, so then the choice of AF-S versus AF-C is only based on focus performance in ambient light.

In this case, I was using the pop-up flash as a commander, and for group shots I usually keep the white AF Assist lamp in the camera turned Off with CSM a9, because it causes some people in the group to squint.

Obviously there has to be enough ambient light for the focus without any AF assist lamp. If there isn't enough light, then I normally go back to an SB800 mounted on the camera (or on a bracket) in commander mode, and switch to AF-S so the red AF Assist Lamp will come on.

However, assuming enough ambient for focus, in addition to AF-C, I have set the focus to use only the AF-ON button, and the priority on FPS (Release Priority). This way pushing the shutter button no longer has any effect on focus.

The main thing I am trying to achieve is accurate focus on a specific point somewhere in the middle of the group. I have found that with AF-C mode it is simple to hold down the AF-ON button and move the camera aim around and observe various points within the group pop into focus. Then, when I get the point I want, I release the AF-ON button and the camera stays focused at that spot while I recompose to place the group within the frame where I want it. Then the focus stays fixed on that point for a series of shots.

I also watch the green focus lamp in the viewfinder to make sure the camera thinks it is in focus when I think it is.

I could use AF-S mode in Release Priority too, but then to get the focus on exactly the point I want requires pushing and releasing the AF-ON button repeatedly, because in AF-S mode, once it achieves what it thinks is 'focus' it stops trying, and it usually doesn't end up focused on exactly what I want it on. I like the focus to keep 'trying' until it gets to what I want.

And for this group shot, I used ISO 400 and WB on Flash. Sometimes I use Daylight WB when shooting flash, which will make the image slightly cooler. But I never use a custom WB when using flash, unless I use gels to match the flash to the ambient. Then, I use PRE to set a custom WB that matches the ambient.

Hope that helps,

Russ

Chris said...

It does, many thanks Russ. I also appreciated your discussion about the release mode. I also always use AF-ON, but oftentimes find after I focus and recompose, I can't trip the shutter, I'll have to go and doublecheck my release mode. I think I may have it set differently for my flash settings, works fine in my sports setting.

Gotta get me one of those on-board flash (light) killers you mentioned, too.
Chris

Russ MacDonald said...

Chris,

The AF-ON focusing mode works well for groups, portraits, landscapes, and nature, but I have found that it slows me down when I need to shoot quickly.

So, for shooting wedding processions, receptions, and other types of parties, I can shoot fastest if I leave the focus function on the shutter button.

I also put the AF in AF-S with focus priority which allows the SB800 AF Assist Lamp to come on. This keeps all those quick shots in nearly dark conditions sharp.

Regards,

Russ

Anonymous said...

Russ,

As you say, for greater depth of field across a large group, it would have been better to use f8 versus f5.6. You also say that due to flash reflectance readings for CLS and the dark clothing, you dialed the remote flashes down by -1.3EV. Didn't you just give up an available full f-stop?

Couldn't it be possible to get the ratios figured out with CLS and camera metering using f5.6, then use either the camera FEC or speedlight FEC adjustment to allow f8 for the actual shot? Seems that this a limit imposed in order to use FV Lock.

I know this is a blog about CLS and FV Lock, but for this group shot, might it have been better to use a flash meter and manual modes on the speedlights to get maximum light on the group and in so doing, also f8 for DOF?

I find the CLS system to e an extraordinary asset and your excellent articles further reveal its capabilities. Still haven't given up my Luna Pro F flash meter however.

Great site and photo examples by the way.

Russ MacDonald said...

To Anonymous,
I reread what I wrote and I see what you mean. You have made some very good points.

Clearly, you are right. If I chose f/5.6 instead of f/8 due to flash power, and then I turned down the flash, I am not being consistent.

The fact is I tried f/8 first but the flash beeped at me indicating underexposure. So I opened up to f/5.6 and that stopped it from beeping. However, if I had been sharp, I would have realized that the dark clothing was only making the flash 'think' that it was underexposing, when, in fact, it was actually exposing correctly.

You are right that I was trying to use this as an example of how to use CLS for shooting a group, but you make a very good point that this would have been easier (and better) using manual flash. In fact, I usually shoot groups in flash manual mode. That's why I had a hard time coming up with a good example. To shoot in manual I would have set the flashes in manual mode on the commander and adjusted the power on each group using a flash meter (or the histogram).

Thanks for you comments,

Russ

Diego said...

Great blog.

About the shift in color, a color correction gel on the flashes would have corrected that right?

Russ MacDonald said...

Diego,

Thanks for the compliment!

Yes, a gel could have been used if I had had one that matched the ambient. However, the ambient was some weird mercury vapor color and none of my gels were close enough, so I decided to shoot without a gel.

It actually demonstrates the need for a gel quite well - if you have the right one.

Russ

Anonymous said...

Well done. I can't believe 2 SB's can throw that much light! I would have hauled in my Dynalites for that project!

Russ MacDonald said...

To Anonymous,

Yes, the SB800s put out a lot more light than many people realize. I have shot a group of 75 with two SB800s before.

Russ

Anonymous said...

Hello and thanks for the valuable information you share on your blog. Can you tell me what kind of umbrellas - brand - you used with the sb800s.

Thanks

Russ MacDonald said...

To Anonymous,

There are many different brands of umbrellas to choose from, but I use low-cost Adorama umbrellas
( http://www.adorama.com/LTU40BC.html )
which have black covers so they can be converted between reflecting or shoot-through styles. I use reflecting when shooting large groups, because reflecting mode is more efficient. I also use the Adorama Universal Swivel Holders
(http://www.adorama.com/LTUSH.html )
and stands
( http://www.adorama.com/LTSP10AC.html )
in my portable kit.

Hope that helps,

Russ

Anonymous said...

Russ,

Your explanations of all things photographic are very good. One certainly can't get that attention to detail in a manual or in most books for that matter. You really should consider writing a book, if you haven't already.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Inverse-Square Law requires one to increase the distance from the flash to the group in order to decrease light fall-off from the front row to the back. Light intensity is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the source, so increasing the distance from the flash to the first row and decreasing the distance between rows, like you did, would result in a smaller intensity difference between the front and the back. This would have helped to light that back row adequately with the flash and fix your WB problem, but of course at the expense of more flash power.

Keep up the wonderful explanations!

Thanks,
Brian

Russ MacDonald said...

Hi Brian,

You are very kind, but writing a book is too much like work. I shoot pictures for money and write about the things I learn about photography for fun.

Your comment made me put on my engineering hat from days past (MSEE Degree from USF) and study it a bit.

You are absolutely right. The inverse square law always refers to the distance to the point source referenced to half that distance. So, the farther you are from that point source to begin with, the less effect a specific delta distance will have on the strength of the light.

So, that says that to minimize the change in light intensity from front to back in a group, you should place the flash as far away as possible from the group.

However, here's the gottcha. The farther you place the flash in an umbrella away from the group, the harder the light becomes, until the umbrella acts like a point source again and casts those nasty shadows.

To keep the light from the umbrellas soft, you need to keep them as close as possible.

I guess it's like everything else in photography; you choose the best set of compromises you can find.

Anyway, I normally place my two umbrellas as high as possible and as close as possible to the group, so that the light remains soft and comes in from above the group which minimizes the fall-off between the front and back. Then, I get the rows to stand as close together as is comfortable.

That seems to be the best compromise that I have found.

Thanks for your very thoughtful comment,

Russ

Ross said...

Hi Russ, great blog. Really helped me understand the CLS system. Quick question you indicate what all your settings are in this image except your ISO settings. I'm curious why you simple didn't opt to increase the ISO to achieve the f8 aperture instead of f5.6. Wouldn't it have been easier to correct for noise in post than to deal with a shallow depth of field? Thanks for all th info and keep up the good work.

Russ MacDonald said...

Hi Ross,

Excellent point! You are absolutely right!

Increasing ISO is a great way to preserve depth of field so as to avoid the use of a wider aperture.

Unfortunately, in this particular situation, I couldn't do that, because I was already at ISO 400 on my D200, and that's the highest ISO I can still get acceptable noise performance.

With the new CMOS sensor in the D300, ISO 800 and maybe ISO 1600 are clean enough for group shots, and that would help a lot in maintaining depth of field to keep the complete group sharp.

I should have mentioned this in my article, so I will go back and add it.

Thank you very much for pointing this out!

Russ

billmoris said...

Hi again Russ, I am going to shoot my family reunion next week (70 people) and this blog will certainly help.

My question is regarding WB. I find that when using flash with a diffuser or an umbrella, and using flash WB, my photo become very warm, too warm. It this because flash WB is set to bare flash only, with no diffuser? When using a diffuser or bounce flash of some kind, the light quality changes and it is not at 5400 kelvin anymore.

Most people wound just say shoot raw, but most of the time I like JPEG.

Russ MacDonald said...

Hi Bill,

The flash temperature is set to 5500 to match bright daylight. If the ambient light is warmer, and you are not overpowering the ambient sufficiently, the image can become too warm.

Also, if you have the saturation boosted, it can make it too warm. Never boost the saturation when shooting people. It messes up skin tones.

This is a good reason to shoot raw. In raw, you can change the white balance in post processing to whatever you want. If the Flash setting turns out too warm, you can change the temperature from 5500 to 5000 if you want to, and that will cool it down a bit.

Russ

billmoris said...

Thanks Russ, you are right. I do set the saturation to +1 all the time. I will stop doing that. I guess setting wb flash while shooting out side is a bad idea too.

I forgot to ask you what zoom head position did you use on the sb-800. I know that when it is used as a remote the zoom head can be set at any distance. Do it matter?

Thanks again.

Russ MacDonald said...

Hi Bill,

When you are diffusing the flash, as I was in this shot (using umbrellas), you always should have the zoom position on the SB-800 set to its widest position. Also, the diffuser lens should be pulled down over the front.

This is all to provide as much diffusion as possible. If you zoom it to telephoto and try to diffuse at the same time, the first action is counteracting the second.

Russ

Chris said...

hi Russ,

If you pull out the built-in diffuser, I think this automatically sets the flash to 14mm, regardless of its 'current' setting....

Chris

Russ MacDonald said...

Hi Chris,

Yes, you're right.

Thanks,

Russ

billmoris said...

So if I was shooting through an umbrella or bouncing off it, I should pull down the built-in diffuser? That mean you are diffusing twice and losing flash power twice.

Is one time enough? I wouldn't want to add a stoffen diffuser into the mix.

Thanks

Russ MacDonald said...

Bill,

The diffuser lens doesn't cause much power loss since it is transparent instead of translucent. A diffuser lens redirects the light in multiple directions based on the facets in its design without as much loss.

A diffuser like the snap-on that comes with the SB-800 is translucent, and it does cause a large power loss.

So, it really depends on how big your umbrellas are and how long the shaft is on the holder. You simply want to make sure the light from the flash is widened so that it completely fills the umbrella without spilling past it.

So, with a small umbrella and a long shaft, you probably would not want the diffuser lens in place.

And with a large umbrella, you probably do want the lens in place.

Russ

Chris said...

Hi Russ, can you qualify 'large' vs 'small' umbrella? I.e. is a 32" umbrella a small?

Thanks...

Chris

Russ MacDonald said...

Hi Chris,

Umbrellas come in sizes from 30 inches to 60 inches.

I'd say 40 inches is the most common. At 40 inches, I use the diffuser lens on the SB-800.

At less than 40 inches, I'd probably not use the diffuser lens.

However, it all depends on the length of the shaft.

In any case, is easy to tell whether you need the diffuser lens or not. Just use the test button to fire the flash as you watch the pattern it makes on the umbrella. It should go all the way to the edge without spilling over the edges. You can widen or shrink this pattern by adding or removing the diffuser lens or by moving the umbrella farther or nearer the flash by sliding it back and forth on its shaft in the universal holder.

Russ

Ross said...

Hi Russ, Thanks for the update and also for answering a question I hadn't asked yet. My next question was going to be what ISO setting you would normally use for large group. Although I have successfully used ISO's as high as 800 and even 1600 on my D200 for individuals or couples I was not sure I should go that high with a group shot given the relatively small portion of the frame each individual would take up. I am shooting a group of about 40 people this weekend with 2 SB800 and 2 40 inch umbrella's so I am really keen to put all this good advice to use. So you would not recommend going higher that ISO 400 on a D200 for a group this large?

Ross

Russ MacDonald said...

Hi Ross,

For me, the noise above ISO 400 on the D200 is just too high for groups. If you go up to ISO 800 you can use noise reduction software like Noise Ninja to smooth out the image and that looks real nice untill you start looking closely at the individuals in the group.

With group shots prints are often examined much closer than with other kinds of prints, and then is when you see that detail has been lost with Noise Ninja and faces don't look so good.

So, you are correct; I don't recommend anything higher than ISO 400 for groups, and use less than ISO 400 if you have enough flash power.

Regards,

Russ

domelmel said...

Hi Ross
Great article, great blog!

I have translated you article "How to Shoot Large Groups with Nikon CLS" to polish language and published it on my blog.
http://domelmel.blogspot.com/2008/12/how-to-shoot-large-groups-with-nikon.html
. I hope you have no objection.

Ps.
I wish You merry Christmas!!!

best regards
Daniel from Poland

Russ MacDonald said...

Hi Daniel,

No problem with translating my blogs to other languages. The only thing I require is a link to the original, which I notice you included.

Thanks and Merry Christmas,

Russ

Jim McDonald said...

Russ,

Very helpful. You only used two SB800s in this shoot. Was that intentional? Could you have added two more in umbrellas.

"Anyway, I normally place my two umbrellas as high as possible and as close as possible to the group, so that the light remains soft and comes in from above the group which minimizes the fall-off between the front and back."

Would two more flanking the two you used have made it easier to use a smaller f-stop

Thanks, Jim

Russ MacDonald said...

Hi Jim,

I would have used more umbrellas and flashes, but there wasn't enough time to set them up. I only had about 10 minutes to set up and get this shot.

It is best to set the umbrellas so that the light is even from one end of the group to the other as well as front to back.

In this case, I positioned my two umbrellas high and pointing slightly down to minimize falloff from front to back. I also had the rows stand tight against each other to minimize the distance from front to back, both for lighting and depth of field reasons.

I set the umbrellas and camera back about eight feet from the front of the group so the light from the two umbrellas would overlap across the whole group.

You need to try to avoid having any area of the group lit by only a single umbrella, or that area will be very dark.

The main thing to avoid is aming your umbrellas at an angle to the group. That will cause shadows from members to fall on other members. You want the umbrellas facing the same direction as the camera, and close to the camera, so that any shadows will fall down and behind each member.

On a large group you should never try for a 'lighting ratio'. Keep the power of both umbrellas the same.

Hope that helps,

Russ

Timothy Armes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Russ MacDonald said...

Hi Tim,

You are absolutely correct. It is always a trade-off between light fall-off from front to back, light softness, and light power.

With low power speedlights, it is a balancing act. My main purpose for posting this was to show that it can be done.

You want the umbrellas as close as possible mostly due to power, so you can use a smaller aperture and increase the depth of field. If you have studio strobes that are several times stronger than the SB-800, you can back them up farther and still maintain a small aperture, and then the light fall-off decreases as well. With speedlights, you have to set them very close to keep a small enough aperture and then just live with the light fall-off.

Now, with the newer cameras (especially the D3 and D700), ISO can be increased significantly without adding objectionable noise. This will allow you to move the speedlights back farther and reduce the light fall-off problem. Of course, higher ISO will also increase the ambient contribution, so that gels on the flash might become necessary.

Regards,

Russ

John Meyer said...

Great blog!

rommelpb said...

hi, Russ!

thank you very much for this very enlightening site. i think that your explanation of the CLS is far better than what one can find in the nikon manual and most books on the subject.

seeing that you're probably the best authority on CLS, i would like to share with you something i encountered just recently.

i just got a d300s. i tried shooting a few test shots using the following settings:
camera: Aperture priority, auto ISO on with max ISO at 1600
SB-800: TTL/BL

with these settings, the camera and flash default to ISO 800. turning off auto ISO brings the ISO settings on both the camera and the flash to the ISO that i set manually (200).

thinking that ambient light could affect the readings, i tried aiming the camera at a dark portion of the room. the ISO stayed at 800. i then aimed it at a light bulb. the ISO dropped to 200.

this wasn't the way ttl/bl behaved on the d80. on the d80, the ISO remained at whatever manual setting i set (usually 200), and it only went up if the flash can't light up the scene properly (e.g. aperture chosen too small, subject to far,etc.)

have you encountered this behavior? would you happen to have an idea why nikon changed the behavior of ttl/bl + auto ISO on the d300s?

best regards,
Rommel

Russ MacDonald said...

Hi Rommel,

Thanks for the nice compliments!

Yes, I see exactly the same results with my D3. And my advice is to use fixed ISO whenever shooting flash.

I have a D70 and a D200 that behave somewhat like your D80, but they do not seem predictable, so I never use Auto ISO with flash with those cameras either.

For indoor people shots (parties, receptions) I find it best to shoot flash with fixed ISO 400, camera Manual, f/4, and 1/80th as a starting point.

Also, if you are shooting people at under 10 feet, it is never good to shoot flash above ISO 400. With a high ISO, the flash often can't go to a low enough power to keep from blowing things out.

Hope that helps,

Russ

Frederic Hore said...

Hi Russ,
I first noticed this post on Nikonians some time ago, and now have discovered your blog... good on you! Well done!

I am curious why you chose to shoot in AF, when MF would have been quicker and easier, and saved you the steps of having to lock focus. After all the people are static, not running.

Many thanks for the superb info you have provided.

Cheers,
Frederic in Montréal

Russ MacDonald said...

Hi Frederic,

Thanks for the compliment!

I was using a D200 when I wrote this, and its viewfinder is so small that manual focus, without a split image, is very difficult to do. With my D3, I find myself using manual focus a little more frequently. However, AF on the D3 works so well that there just aren't many situations where I even want to focus manually anymore.

Russ

Erik D. said...

Hi Russ... Love your blog.
Im in a bad spot and is bothering me to no end.
I have a D700 and use a SB900, SB600 remotely (CLS)
I have auto fp320 set. I cannot change the shutter speed in camera. I can only change aperture. I dont understand. I read the manuals and still do not understand. What am I doing wrong??

Thanks,
Erik D.

Russ MacDonald said...

Hi Eric,

It sounds like you have the camera in A mode.

You can only change shutter speed when in S or M modes. It doesn't matter whether you have the flash on or have FP mode selected.

Russ

Veli Ojala said...

Greetings from Finland, dear Russ

This blog has become a part of my everyday life, I love it! I have learned 300% more when talking about "being a strobist", than all those videos and books that I have read earlier. With all my hearth: thank you very much.

To give some feedback to the topic, I have to admit that I have similiar situation this weekend and I have to shoot 60 people with low end gear (D90, Nikkor 35mm f2 or 17-55 f2.8 and SB-700), and produce high end result. Your blog have gave me a lot of trust to my lowend gear, I can do pretty decent things nowdays with just these gears that I have in hands. Like said, ingenuity is the most important thing in your camerapack.

CLS, SBs, manual settings, snoots, grids, umbrellas and softboxes are no more a uncomfortzone to me. They are tools that should be used proper ways in proper situations.

I'm lucky get free loans of couple Elincroms studioflashes (500Ws), but I'm OK with just one SB-700. I am planning to buy SB-910 to crank my gears up a bit, and free my strobist skills to next level.

To get this high end results with my gear, I was planning to somewhat dublicate your setup, and get flashes as close as possible, and balance ambient with flash(es) and simultaniously pop those persons up from surroundings. Results also greatly depends from weather, because if it rains heavily (not suprice in Finland @ autumn) we have to shoot this setup inside. If weathergod greets with photog-god I will get nice overcast and I can do this shot outside, in beatiful sea-view.

Russ MacDonald said...

Hi Veli,

Sorry I didn't respond to your post back in Sept. I stopped receiving emails when people posted, so I didn't know about your post until I found it manually.

I really like Finland! I traveled to Finland many times from 1996 to 2001, and I stayed in either Helsinki or Oulu. I was working for Texas Instruments on IC's for Nokia cellular phones. I used to stay at the Hotel Presidentii in Helsinki.It had a casino called Casino Ray in it that was lots of fun.

Russ