photography questions & answers

photography questions & answers

Continuing with the regular theme where I look at search engine queries that point to this site, and answer a selection of 10 questions more directly…

01)  how do I take an exposure reading with my camera?

Taking an exposure reading with your camera is at one level as simple as pointing your camera at the scene, and zero-ing the needle, by using the shutter speed & aperture & ISO controls. But, it also gets more complex and interesting than that. The crucial factor to remember is that your camera’s meter reads the light reflected from the scene you are pointing it at.

Looking at the image at the top – my favorite model, Anelisa, again – you will see she is wearing a white top, and she is placed against a dark background. With the composition as above, the chanced are great that most modern cameras with evaluative metering / matrix metering, will get to an exposure reading that is pretty close. The white areas and darker areas will most likely balance each other out.

But the moment that you change the composition by including a lot more white or a lot more of the dark areas, then the exposure your camera sets, will be off. You need to control your exposure settings …

Learn more inside…

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photography questions & answers

Continuing on the theme where I look at specific search engine queries via Woopra, and answer a selection of 10 questions more directly…

01)  why doesn’t my light meter display an accurate reading when using a speedlight?

Aside from the (small) chance of your light meter being faulty, the most likely reason why you might get a faulty or obviously incorrect reading from your flash meter when metering your speedlight’s output … is that you are shooting in TTL mode. Most flash meters are fooled by the pre-flash that the camera uses to determine TTL flash exposure (and the final output of the flash).

You can see the position of the pre-flash there, a low output burst of light from your speedlight. The camera senses how much of the light is returned, and from that will calculate the TTL flash exposure you should need. Hand held light meter readings are usually triggered by that pre-flash, and since it is lower in intensity than the actual output from the speedlight, will give you a reading that just doesn’t make sense. I drove myself crazy with this one weekend, when I couldn’t figure out why my flash meter would give me an f2.8 reading, no matter what aperture I set my camera to.

Next question …
Learn more inside…

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photography questions & answers

I started the initial numbering of this serial topic with three digits. And since I thought of this being a monthly post, it would seem like we’re in for the long haul here if we’re ever going to reach the hundreds. So, continuing with this post where I check recent search engine queries, and answer a selection of 10 questions more directly …

01)  increasing flash will eliminate ambient light

It doesn’t quite work the way as stated there. If you have correct exposure for ambient light, then adding (correctly metered) flash to this, will just over-expose the photograph. To eliminate or reduce the ambient light, you first under-expose your available light to a certain extent, and then add flash to give you correct exposure. Now you can progressively eliminate the ambient light by changing your settings, but keep your flash exposure such that you get correct exposure.

You would change your shutter speed first to reduce the ambient light, but usually not higher than maximum flash sync speed. Then you need to juggle the aperture and ISO settings … and add flash to this. This is the usual technique when your available light is ugly. Think of tungsten lights in the ceiling, directly overhead.

This question then neatly segues into the next question and answer …

Learn more inside…

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photography questions & answers

Continuing with the monthly theme where I look at search engine queries,
and answer a selection of 10 questions more directly…

01)  why two flashes with rear curtain sync?

TTL flash exposure is calculated with a pre-flash signal that the flashgun emits before the main burst of light.  The main burst of light is what gives you (hopefully) correct exposure.  But the camera needs some way of determining what that correct exposure should be. In order to do that, the camera measures the amount of light returned from that pre-flash. Looking at this diagram of the sequence of events when your shutter opens and your flash fires, you will see the pre-flash there:

Learn more inside…

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photography questions & answers

Continuing with the monthly theme where I look at search engine queries,
and answer a selection of 10 questions more directly…

01)  flash outdoors without looking like flash

This is a tough one to give one definitive answer for.  It really depends on what the light is like, and how you position your subjects in relation to the light.

The simplest scenario is where you position your subject so that their faces are in open shade, and then you just add a touch of fill-flash.  The easiest way of doing this is to use TTL flash, and dial your flash exposure compensation down to around -3EV.

Where you have more uneven light, then using off-camera flash with a large diffuser (eg, softbox or umbrella), will give you the best looking results.  The light from your flash will look really good, but I can’t say that it will be imperceptible as flash.  Meaning, if you look at the image, then a logical conclusion about the light is that additional light like flash must’ve been used.  But, it does look good!

Next question …

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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:

01)  What flash can I use at a wedding ?

I’m still of the opinion that the best flash for a wedding (or for any other event) would be the top-of-the-line name-brand flashgun / speedlight.

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.

Learn more inside…

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