In last month's blog post I promised I would share the secret of getting perfect fill-flash shots using the latest generation of Sony equipment (which behave differently from any other camera ever made). I'll get to that in a minute. But first, I want to tell you about my latest e-booklet, and how you can get it for FREE!!!
Ways to "Wow!" with Wireless Flash
As most of you know I really love wireless flash and I've used it on a many occasions to turn a blah shot into a "Wow!" shot. And for years I've wanted to write a separate e-booklet (over and above the content I have in my books) to discuss the topic in greater detail, however the scope seemed a little daunting. (Have a look at one of my original outlines I had envisioned for this project.)
|Wireless flash did this!!! And learning how to use them is no longer the intimidating exercise it once was.
So after a few years of the project being on the back-burner, I had an "Aha!" moment: I realized you don't need to understand how a car's engine works in order to drive it, and that the best way to learn to do anything is to just dive in and play with it. (It's all automatic, after all!) Once I realized this was the right approach the ebooklet pretty much wrote itself. That's a good sign.
|Great product photography with only one flash!
|Great Portrait Photography Too!
|Have a ball!
As always, your purchase lets you download the ebooklet in 3 different formats: .pdf (ideal for your iPad or computer), .mobi (for your Kindle), and .epub (for Nook and all other e-readers). You can purchase your own copy here for USD $9.95.
Oh, and the FREE part...
While I believe the e-booklet represents a great value at only $9.95; I'm giving it away for FREE when you subscribe to Cameracraft magazine! You've heard me mention Cameracraft before -- it's the antithesis of every other camera magazine out there. With high-quality reproduction and no advertising whatsoever, we (Editor David Kilpatrick of PhotoclubAlpha.com and I) are free to highlight what's really important in photography: The image, the meaning, and the backstory that goes along with it. Its goal is to promote the kind of photography with a purpose and an emotion, and to inspire the reader with examples of various photographic genres. This is very much an old-school project the likes of which just can't be seen anymore.
Feedback from subscribers so far has been wonderful, and this is your opportunity to see for yourself what so many are talking about. Subscribe to Cameracraft for one year, send me your receipt, and I'll send you the "Ways to 'Wow!' with Wireless Flash" ebooklet for FREE!! A double shot of photographic inspiration from people you know and trust. Subscribe today at http://friedmanarchives.com/cameracraft ! (A magazine subscription makes a great gift, too! :-) )
Although I'm a recovering wedding photographer, I still do my share of portrait and event photography, and for years I knew exactly how to light portraits and group shots so that it didn't look like a flash was used. The secret was to set your camera's flash exposure compensation to -1.7. Below is an illustration I used to use in my earlier books which demonstrated this technique pretty clearly.
Interestingly, the Alpha 900 didn't need the flash exposure compensation adjusted, since it seemed to know when it was being used as a fill flash and when it was the sole source of light in a dark room and it would adjust accordingly:
|A fill-flash shot straight out of the A900. Doesn't look like I used flash, does it? (Of course experts know the tell-tale sign of fill-flash - you can see a tiny bright spot in the eyes if you look carefully.)
|The first time I used the A77 with fill flash, I realized something was horribly wrong.
1) There was indeed a bug in the A77 which prevented flash exposure consistency in some bodies. (Again, that's been fixed.)
2) Sony has changed the definition of what they think constitutes "proper" flash exposure for all cameras since the A77: Overexpose your subject by one stop (and in some cases, overexpose your background too!)
Below is a test shot taken with the A99 and F58 flash in auto and Flash Exposure Compensation (FEC) set to 0. (I don't use the F60 flash for important work (especially if it involves families and kids!) because of its tendency to overheat.) Looks a little overexposed, doesn't it?
And below are some grey card test shots taken with flash which I have shared with you in the past -- as you can see, when everything is on Auto the Sony will overexpose the subject by +1 stop. And while I used to think this was a bug, this behavior has appeared in every camera Sony has produced since the A77 and so I have concluded that it is intentional and regarded as a "feature".
(The above experiment is what pushed me to recommend "set your camera's FEC setting to -1 to have it work 'normally'" in all of my books for the new cameras. I still keep it set there most of the time.)
So now that I understand that there were two flash problems in the past, and that one of them has been sorted out, can I now use that new knowledge to get the results I used to get in the days of yore?
|Perfect lighting! These pictures actually look more perfect when you click on them.
|(Seriously, click on this one too. )
It looks like the answer is "Yes". And the logic goes like this: If I had to use a FEC of -1.7 before, and the Sonys are now overexposing flash by +1 stop, it stands to reason that setting FEC to -2.7 on the newer models will give me the lighting I used to get in the old days. And, as the samples above and at the top of the blog post can verify, this is in fact true!
So I am finally comfortable using the new generation of cameras for important work involving fill-flash. The only downside is that I'm now finding myself constantly changing the FEC value from -2.7 (for fill flash pics outdoors in the shade) and -1.0 (for all other times). A minor annoyance but at least the camera is behaving predictably, which is what a professional requires of his or her tools.
Do the new A7 and A7r cameras display any flash anomalies (exposure and/or wireless flash delay)? I'll find out on Tuesday when mine arrive. And a few days after that I'm off to Boston, Maine, and then Sequoia National Park so I'll have ample opportunity to put these cameras through their paces, learn their strengths and weaknesses, and write them up in a new book. Send me an email at Gary at Friedman Archives dot com if you'd like to be notified when it's ready.
Other books which are in the pipeline which should be released around the same time (again, let me know if you want to be notified of their release):
Will I be writing a book on the new Sony RX-10? Although the camera appears to be technically outstanding, due to relatively low interest I'm not planning on it. (But if I get enough requests I can change my mind in a hurry.)
As the year winds down I hope each of you has a wonderful and stress-free time with family and friends, and that the new year treats you as well or better as the last one.
|Seriously, wireless flash can be a lot of fun! :-)