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I need a little help with very low light situtations

Hi Everyone I need help dealing with very low light situations.
1st one is a very dark room and window giving backlight. I finally had to shoot flash in manual at 1/2 power  TTL wasn't working. even at +2.0 FEC I used 1/250 because of the window.
F4 ISO 2000  1/250  Flash +2 FEC

F4 ISO 2000  1/250  Flash manual 1/2 Power..

2nd shot was camera with OCF the ambient was low and I exposed the ambient at 1/80 at 2.8 ISO 3200 but it was hard to right exposure from flash.


Anything I could of done differently?

Thanks everyone. 
Lou Recine 


  • Lou -

    I'll be interested to see the responses, but I'll give it a try:

    You didn't indicate where you took your exposure. I have no idea if this is way off base, but since the background was "uninteresting", I would have metered off the bride's dress, and upped the exposure a bit - like Neil does - to make sure the dress is white and not gray. I don't think I would have shot at 1/250, probably 1/125. The background windows would have blown out, but it would not have mattered.

    Were you bouncing the flash for the shots in front of the window? The one where you put the flash in manual looks pretty OK, so I'm wondering how you were using the flash.

  • I forgot to say that post-mortem second guessing is always pretty easy, and if I had the situation you were in, I'm not sure if all my comments would have been right there in my head!

  • Hi Dave
    Thanks for the insight but the couple so dark against the window that if I exposed for them the flare from the window would have washed them out.

    Lou Recine
  • MatrixphotoMatrixphoto Member
    edited September 2016
    Hi Dave 
    Heres a example of  what I mean I tried using 3200 ISO to up flash recharge time ,  and and you can see that window is staring to blow out subject.
    F4 ISO 3200  1/250  Flash manual 1/2 Power..

  • Lou - I see what you mean. Again, it's easy to write "Shoulda-woulda". The main focus of the shot seems to be the groom. If you were using on-camera bounce flash, I would have bounced to the left, using the BFT to keep the direct flash from hitting everyone, but mainly the man in the foreground. The bounce flash lights the groom and officiant. Maybe with that, the ISO comes down, maybe along with the aperture going to F-more-than-4, since you want everyone in focus, and the blow-out is reduced. But really, it is easy to do the post analysis and give an opinion without actually having faced the situation.

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited September 2016

    Agree with Dave on 'second-guessing' so my take is advice for the future.

    You are using a Nikon, ergo you have an advantage with your camera set in manual mode and the flash in TTL by adding a + compensation to the camera's Exposure Compensation it will 'add' to the flash's TTL compensation also.

    eg: Set Flash to +2.0 e/v, Set Camera Body's Exposure Compensation to a + value also (say +2.0 e/v) you will have a combined e/v of +4 but only when camera body is in manual, or +6 e/v if maxing out the Compensation on both. (ONLY on Nikon bodies, this does not work on Canon)

    You should be easily able to lift people up under those circumstances and since the background windows had a 'white' curtain it did not matter.

    Remember, even though you 'think' you are using a +2 e/v on flash that it's really over, but it's not, it's because TTL behaves differently to manual and is controlled by the camera/flash combo, whereas if flash is in manual mode, the camera has no input at all (apart from just firing it).

    If flash is set to TTL, the camera is still 'seeing' the white behind the couple and although it won't change the camera body's exposure when it's in that manual mode, however, it does transmit the information to the flash in TTL which says to itself - if a flash can talk - "there is a lot of light, I don't need to up my game to 'really' put out any more light",  so that's why it did not produce enough flash power to compensate, but once you put flash in manual mode you were getting more flash power because you controlled it and not the flash/camera.

    I would still have used TTL anyway personally and just upped the + e/v's on both flash and Camera Compensation if needed.

    You do really need to get an external battery pack mate (if you don't already have one) and here is a suggestion, ones I use, but with a 'double' Y cord so it really recycles faster.

    Battery: http://www.cheetahstand.com/product-p/cl-l4500.htm

    Nikon Connector Cord (Battery to Flash Head): https://www.cheetahstand.com/product-p/cl-nx.htm

    Double Y cord: (it plugs into both battery ports, comes out to one connector and cuts recycle time again almost in half - 45% it says on the site - because you have the power coming into the cord much quicker with 2 sources instead of a single and I can vouch for that personally):

    I have used these for years, the whole kit is probably cheaper than either Nikon's/Canon's External Brand Name Power Pack, but sooooo much faster and much much longer lasting. 8 double A's compared to a whopping 4500 Ma/H.

    Battery will probably power a speedlite for up to 1800 full power pops, it's Lithium-Ion at 4500 Ma/H, is a huge capacity.

    "With the Cheetah Lithium power pack, it takes only one second to recycle flashes such as Canon 580 EX II, 600EX-RT, Nikon SB-900, SB910 and Sony F58AM at full power. It can provide up to 1800 full-power flashes with a Canon 580EX, 580 EX II, 600 EX-RT, or a Nikon SB900, SB910".

    I run my 180/360W flashes also, and on the 180 it will get up to 900 full power pops, the 360W around 450, massive power.

    Battery has a hook on back, clip over your pants belt and it's hands free and it's also very light for it's size.

    It will be the best $200 you will ever spend for the future. I have used these in place of Canon's (when I had Canon) External Battery Pack and Nikon's EBP, also 3rd party ones I had, for at least 5 years now.

    Some reading which may also help by Neil: http://neilvn.com/tangents/nikon-flash-ttl-vs-ttl-bl/


    Edit: Just added up costs: The above 3 items are $192.90 against an Nikon External Battery Pack's price of: $199.00 (with NO batteries included anyway - ridiculous price)


    Australian Distributor: If anyone is in Australia here is a great place to get those items:
    I have dealt with them for a couple of years now, very reliable I've found, ships fast, and I did have one faulty product, sent a replacement no questions asked when I explained what went wrong. (some small clip on an item not related to battery, flash)

    Battery: (Same battery coming from same manufacturer, just branded differently on the CheetahStand site)

    Power Cable Nikon/Canon/Sony/Metz:  Just look at the link for the battery above and it has features to 'add' them to your order.

    Y Cord Here:

  • Hey Trev 
    Thanks so much for the insight , I have the power pack but I don't have the Y cord cable , Im getting  one.
    Also I have a follow up question should I have use TTL BL indoors when flash is the main light source and not fill?

    I have to admit Im still confused when it comes to TTL vrs TTL BL , I thought you only use TTL BL when your mixing flash with ambient light.
    In a case where ambient light is not a factor like using flash indoors ( no backlight windows ) would you use TTL BL?
    Here is perfect example of what I mean , Should I have used TTL BL. I put both SOC and Edited files as example. 



  • TrevTrev Moderator

    I just leave it at TTL BL and am done with it, and I've found personally with the BL selected I get a better result.

    I am sure many would choose just TTL and fine, it's what works for you.

    Just ride the FEC and you will be fine. I have found from experience that Canon flash seems to be a little under in a lot of cases, confirmed by my mate's previous 580 EX II and his new 600 -RT's they seem to need more compensation with the same manual settings on camera as mine.

    We may shoot virtually the same shot, and I maybe be +0.7 ev and he will be around +1.5 to bring up exposure, don't know why that is so, but it seems to be and when I used Canon/580 EX II's I needed to be above what I would have thought. Just my experience, so not knocking Canon on this.

    One thing the Canon flash is better at seems to be locking focus better with their AF Assist Beam, Nikon's seems to be really light compared to them.

    Although I am playing with a new toy at the moment and it's a trigger for a new 600W flash system I have, and it has a 'pass through' hot shoe on top, so trigger on camera hot shoe, Nikon Speedlite on top of trigger giving full TTL Mode/s, but this trigger has an AF Assist Beam also built in and it's really a much better beam, a diamond pattern with a bright red dot in the middle, really bangs on focus really quick in low light now with a few tests I have done, so I maybe will put that on during reception even if I am not using the 600W light off camera just to get the benefit of the AF Assist Beam.

  • Ok I have the Godox 360 II and trigger on order Ill give it a try , also Ill give the TTL BL a Try as well.


  • TBH if I were faced with a similar scenario I'd have tried to be behind the officiant, which in the UK is common. Not sure if you would have been allowed though. Otherwise yes, more flash!

    Also, that was quite a bright room :) was shooting at iso 5000 at f1.6 the other day. Ceiling was about 18 inches over the groom's head so bounce flash was out, too. Horrid!!
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