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As an adjunct to the Tangents blog, the intention with this forum is to answer any questions, and allow a diverse discussion of topics related photography. With that, see it as an open invitation to just climb in and start threads and to respond to any threads.


Hi Everyone, I am new on here and this is my first post as I am looking for an answer for a specific question.  Wanted to see how you deal with those HORRIBLE HI-HAT/RECESSED OVERHEAD LIGHTS.  I ABSOLUTELY DESPISE these lights.  If you can't bounce your flash (lets say the walls are black).  How do you normally deal with these nightmares?  Canon flash always seems to underexpose with a horrible yellow/orange cast - even when bumping up exposure compensation.  I'm guessing ETTL is thrown off by the horrific hot spots from overhead, but not 100% sure.  Would love to know what other people's approach is.  Thanks!


  • TrevTrev Moderator


    Welcome! :)

    Any samples? Probably I would go to manual mode on flash head.

    Also, what mode are you using on camera. Manual on that is almost a given and is my mantra.

    Get your ambient light figured out first until happy, then you worry about the flash.

    A helpful tip also, drop the 'Auto Zoom' on the flash head, change to manual and zoom that sucker in tight, helps with bounce, and believe it or not, you can still bounce to a degree from dark walls.

    If not enough power on flash even in manual, and with your ambient set to what you want via ISO/Shutter/Aperture (the 3 Apostles of photography) you would need to take the plunge and try direct with some sort of white bounce forward.

    That is a totally last resort though. But do try manual flash also as once set, nothing influences the power output level, not even the body, it's just light.

    Drop in a sample image if you have one.

    Trev and welcome to the forum.
  • Hi Trev,

    Thanks so much for the response.  Yes I use manual settings on the camera, but I think the issue is with the ETTL.  I will try playing with manual setting on flash some more.  Also thanks for the tip about zooming the flash head manually.  makes sense!

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited January 2018

    No problem Scott.

    My mate has Canon, and even though we've compared the exact settings, same lens (24-70), the same focus point, and same zoom, his always seems to be under-exposed in ETTL.

    His compensation is usually at least +1 above my Nikons, seems to be a Canon trait.

    No, I am not going down the path of this Vs that for one minute, just fact.

    In fact I shot with Canon for around 25 years, until I converted to Nikon around 5/something years back, and don't regret it.

    Something else also, not to do with your problem, do you use an external battery pack?

    You could be shooting a tad too fast say and flash not fully re-charged, can happen yet still fire the flash thereby slightly adding to under-exposure. Get one if you don't, and do yourself a favour, don't bother buying the Canon Ext Bat Pack, way too expensive for what you get, and there are much better and sometimes cheaper alternatives out there.

    Godox PB650 4500mAh, with Canon Sync Cord, and dual outlet plug, which also halves recycling time again.
    I've used one for years, lasts for 2-3 weddings easily.


  • Scott - I shoot Canon, and sometimes don't have enough juice in ETTL even with +3. Don't be afraid to try manual flash, but you will be on the adjustment wheel a lot, especially if you are an Event Photographer, and things are fast moving.

    Trev made a good point about using an external battery pack if your flash uses AA batteries. I have a decent knockoff Canon pack made by JJC:

    JJC FB-1 External Flash Battery Pack for Canon 600EX-RT 580EX 580EX II 550EX 540EZ MR-14EX MT-24EX YONGNUO YN-560IIISpeedlite Flash Units

    This will definitely help recycle time and if you do go to manual flash will certainly help it last longer.

    I do events where the lighting is just awful - many different colors of hanging lights, overhead colored spots, can't bounce, etc. I have gone to direct flash with a small octagon softbox in those instances. But the flash isn't doing much of the work because I don't want hot spots. I have to bite the bullet and accept higher ISO, because I can't have my shutter less than 1/100 or 1/125 (movement issues with candid photos). I don't like it, but have to do it especially when you can't bounce.

  • Hi scottr,

    Welcome and you have received great advice thus far in reference to the the flash use and really can't add much more.  The only thing I would reference is the white balance. If you are getting orange casts to your images, then it means your ambient light is dominant in the images and you are most likely on auto white balance.  Try setting your white balance to flash (if you haven't already) and only the backgrounds that are not dominantly lit by flash will be a warmer tone in the image. Everything that is within the flash "should" be the color temperature of the flash (around 5600 kelvin) vs the 3500 room lighting. Of course I am being very generic, but my thought process is as follows. (Of course you can always gel the flash and match the ambient room lights via a custom white balance.  That will work also to correct your problem, but here is a simple approach below:) 

    1. Get the ambient light exposure via the "Three Apostles" (Trev love it! Had to use it and still laughing by the way) *with auto white balance set for this and no flash in use. Once happy, move on to step 2

    2. Determine if TTL or manual flash is better. (I noticed that lower ceilings with Canon are not very good for TTL)  Especially with sparkling chandlers, mirrors, high hat lights etc..Thats just my experience. *White balance should be set to flash for this step to test

    3. Bask in the joy of the photographs taken:) The subject should be of proper white balance while the backgrounds should be warm and inviting. 

    Once again welcome. 

    Hope that helps!

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Thanks Jay, WB advice: B)
  • Scottr

    You got plenty of good advice. I would suggest shooting in RAW and put a CTO or CTS gel filter over your flash to balance the color of the flash with the color of the ambient light. Take a custom white balance reading off a white or gray card. That should eliminate the yellow/ orange cast.  You can make adjustments to the white balance in post processing if you shot RAW.


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