TTL flash photography

TTL flash for the simplicity and speed

Okay, true strobists might recoil in horror, but I often prefer using TTL flash to sweeten an image when shooting on location. I just get to the final image faster than if I had gone the more methodical route of manual flash.

For some situations, manual flash is the only way to go. For example, when your subject is static in relation to your lights and you have to get consistent lighting and consistent exposures, image after image, then manual flash makes the most sense. But for times where you want to shoot faster, and shoot on the run, I find that TTL flash is the easiest and most fun option for me.

This image of Aleona was from a recent individual photography workshop in New York. As a starting point in explaining how to balance flash and ambient light, we initially work with an easy scenario where the available light isn’t harsh, but also not all that exciting. Now we can easily finesse it with a bit of flash from a softbox …

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off-camera TTL flash

May 20, 2011

off-camera TTL flash

This image of Amy, one of our models at the Treehaven workshops, came up for discussion with the group of attendees. As a straight-forward on location portrait using off-camera flash, it is ideal for an overview again of how easy the ambient & flash exposure metering is.

The basic approach with this portrait was to expose for the ambient light in the background, making sure our subject is somewhat under-exposed … and then to add off-camera flash with a softbox. The first question that came up was – how did I meter for the ambient light?

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manual flash vs. TTL flash

December 26, 2007

Manual flash vs TTL flash

For correct flash exposure, 4 things need to be controlled and balanced:
– aperture
– distance (from the flash to subject)
– power (the flash’s actual blitz of light, taking into consideration any diffusion)

Two things relate to camera settings, and two things relate to the flash itself.
To really understand flash photography, it is essential to memorize those 4 things.

If you need an acronym to remember things more easily: PAID
Power, Aperture, ISO, Distance.

There are distinct ways in which flash exposure is controlled though – Manual flash or  TTL flash. (For the purposes of the explanation here, Auto and TTL flash can be grouped together wrt D-SLRs.)

With manual flash, you have to adjust any of those settings to balance them out for correct flash exposure. You can use a light-meter, or even use the histogram to get correct flash exposure. With TTL flash, the camera and flash control the flash output (i.e., the power) as you adjust any of the other settings. That’s it in a nutshell – the differences between Manual flash, and Auto / TTL flash.

But let’s look at this more closely …

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