photography questions & answers
Like pretty much anyone who maintains a site diligently, I check my web stats daily. I want to know where traffic is coming from, and how people reach my site. I need to know the referral sites. Of specific interest are the search phrases people use, and then end up on the Tangents blog. To check what search phrases are used, I use Google Analytics and Woopra. Woopra is an amazing real-time analytics program. I can see the moment someone lands on my site, and could track their progress through my site in real time. Right down to the screen resolution they’re using. Astonishing.
But I digress. Looking at the search phrases used, I can see that some photographers are looking for a specific answer. That answer might be hidden deeper down in an article; or might only be tangentially answered. So I thought it might make for an interesting regular post where I directly answer some of those questions.
As an aside – Google absolutely dominates over Bing, Yahoo, AOL, Ask or anything else out there. Google accounts for approximately 93% of all search engine traffic to my site. Yahoo makes it at about 4.5% of search engine traffic to this site, with Bing coming in third at 1.7%
btw … some people really really can’t spell. I’ve seen every possible permutation of the word “aperture”. And the word “flahs” isn’t actually spelled that way.
Okay … let’s look at some of the questions. I selected 10 as a first post on this theme:
You need a flash that:
- has a lot of power;
- and is able to rotate 180 degrees either way;
- and offers the most flexibility;
- and quite importantly, offers the most subtle control over the flash’s output.
And for all that, the top-end flashgun (whether Nikon, Canon, Sony, Pentax or Olympus), will most likely be your best bet.
This is one area where I detect a fair amount of dogmatism from many users of manual flash. I use TTL flash or manual flash as the need arises. TTL flash has a certain ease-of-use that allows you to shoot on the run, and adjust as you shoot. But it isn’t as predictable as manual flash which is more methodically set up.
My criteria as to when I use TTL flash, and when I use manual flash .. if I move around with my flash on my camera, then TTL flash makes my life easier. But any time that my subject is static in relation to my lights, then manual flash is the most logical choice.
Ultimately, you’ll be a stronger photographer if you can use either of those two modes of flash without hesitation, and adapt to the scenario you are photographing. No drama. No dogma.
03) when to use flash in photography ?
Broadly speaking, there are two reasons you would use flash.
1. If the light levels are too low to get proper exposure, or eliminate camera shake or subject movement,
2. The light on your subject or scene is uneven,
then it makes sense to add flash.
Now, the decision as to when light levels are too low … or how far you’d risk camera shake and subject movement .. or whether the light on your subject is uneven .. these kind of things are open to interpretation. That said, I like clean open light.
As a very general rule, you can get great results placing the off-camera flash at about 30 to 60 degrees off from the camera’s point of view. It’s also a great starting point having the flash elevated by about 30 degrees over your subject’s eyes. This is very general advice though. But it would be a good starting point for a majority of simple lighting setups. From there you can (and should) experiment with light placement.
05) How to get catchlights in the eyes with flash photography
You can easily get catch-lights in the eyes when you bounce flash indoors, but considering the direction you want your light to come from. This also relates directly to the question above about the placement of off-camera flash.
06) how do I test flash sync speed
An interesting question. First, you’d check your camera manual as to what your maximum flash sync speed is. Maximum flash sync speed is also the shutter speed where you can’t dial a higher shutter speed than around 1/125 to 1/250 (or 1/300) without going into high-speed sync (HSS) mode.
However, I feel that I should answer the question as wide as it was posed, and mention that you can sync your flash at ANY shutter speed slower than maximum flash sync speed as well. And if your camera is HSS capable, you can sync it as high as the camera and flash was designed for. Again, playing with your camera will tell you the answer.
07) Nikon / Canon popup flash how to use
You don’t. It’s ugly light. Really. You want and need a larger flashgun. I know I mentioned earlier, ‘no dogma’, and yet here is a dogmatic opinion on the pop-up flash.
I also anticipate that someone will want to point out to me the usefulness of the pop-up flash of the Nikon D200 / D300 / D700 and how it can be used in Commander Mode to control slaved flashes. While that is true, it is still annoying to your subject to have the pop-up flash blitz them in the eyes. Preferably get a radio transmitter, or use the Nikon SU-800.
08) best ISO for wedding formals
For the wedding formals, I try not to go over 400 ISO, but I do bump it up to 500 … 600 and even 800 ISO, depending on the ambient light, and also depending on the need for depth of field. I can more easily fix digital noise in an image, than fix an image which is soft due to too shallow a depth of field.
That said, I have photographed the romantic portraits of a couple even up to 1600 ISO with the Nikon D3. It would be just as accessible with the Canon 5D mk II or Canon 1D mk IV or the Nikon D700. But for groups and families I keep it to the lower ISO ranges.
This is a problem with Bridge CS3 that initially drove me to distraction. The fix is fairly easy though, once you know where to look.
Now, if I could be allowed a minute for a quick rant. Software hiccups which are only fixed in next paid versions. For example, Bridge.
Here is my quandary. (I’ve copied and pasted this note and sent it numerous times to the Adobe engineers with the crash reports when Bridge crashes. No reply yet. But I’m living in hope that some day, some day, some engineer at Adobe will give me some advice on this.) Anyway … my quandary: I initially upgraded from Photoshop CS3 to Photoshop CS4 specifically to have Bridge be more stable. And it is! No mistake .. Bridge CS3 was a dogpile. Unstable. Cache problems, and so on. Bridge CS4 is much better. But you know .. I keep throwing money at this, for the problem to improve somewhat. So .. do I now upgrade to CS5 and hope it will be that incremental step better?
Then there are the odd search phrases that appear:
Nikon D70 summer options
Yup, someone wanted the summer options for the Nikon D70. I have no reply.
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