Join Levi Sim for an in-depth discussion in this video Choosing the right flash modes, part of Flash Photography: Canon Speedlites.
- There are a couple of flash modes that I use all the time, and a couple I've never used, although I think it would be fun to try out sometime. Let's stick with the meat and potato modes for now. These will have you ready to make pictures at the next wedding or birthday party you go to, or the next portrait session. The first mode we use all the time is ETTL. This one chooses the right amount of light based on what it sees in the frame. You can alter that amount of light to your liking by changing the flash exposure compensation, like I've shown you in a previous movie.
Manual mode lets you set how bright the flash is, and it stays that bright until you change it. This is shown as a fraction of the flash's maximum power, which is always one over one. This is easy to use with the camera, because it changes and F-stops really simply. Changing camera settings by one stop is always doubling or halving the brightness. One over one is full power in the flash. One stop less power is half as much, so that's one over two, that's half. One stop less than that would be half as much again, so that's quarter power, one over four.
And one stop darker than that is one eighth power, one over eight, and there are increments between each of those full stops. So, for instance, if my flash was at one over 16, 1/16th power, and I changed the aperture from F four down to F 5.6, but I wanted the light from the flash to appear the same brightness, I'd need to increase its brightness one stop, to an eighth power. We'll practice this some more later on, and you really don't need to know anything about stops.
You just need to know that one half is less bright than one over one, and one over 128 is the least power your flash can put out. So when should you use ETTL, and when should you use manual? I use ETTL settings whenever things are changing quickly and I need my settings and the camera to change with them. If I'm shooting in sunlight one minute, and then I'm shooting in the shade the next minute, or if I'm walking with my subjects from one spot to another, as I might when I'm photographing a wedding, or photographing kids at a park, then ETTL is a good way to go.
I use that with aperture value mode. AV mode is great when I've gotta be fast and flexible. I use manual settings when things are not changing, and I want the settings to be stable, even though the apparent brightness might change. Anytime I'm in the studio, or indoors without changes, I'm gonna be in manual mode. For instance, if I'm photographing the bride and groom in the studio, if I were to use the aperture value and ETTL modes, it would do one setting for the groom in a dark tuxedo, and then when I brought the bride into the picture in her white dress, the camera would see that whiteness and think it was brightness.
White is a color, and the camera interprets that as being lighter, as having more light on it, and it'll change the settings. I don't want it to change the settings. The right exposure is the right exposure no matter what's in the picture, and so anytime I'm under controlled situations like that, I'm going to use manual mode.
You'll also find out how to set up your Canon camera itself to make the most of the speedlight—one of the most liberating photography tools you can buy. Levi Sim helps you master the controls, including the camera and flash modes, flash modifiers, and accessories, and creative options offered by a speedlight: soft light, hard light, and bounced light. By the end of this course, you'll be able to make great light in any situation with your speedlight. If you don't have one yet, you'll understand just what model is best for your needs and what features you'll use the most.
- Why use a speedlight?
- Powering a speedlight
- Choosing the right camera mode
- Choosing the right flash modes
- Using flash modifiers
- Creating soft and hard light
- Accessing Commander mode
- Positioning the flash off camera
- Using an iTTL extension cord
- Extending battery life
- Controlling ambient light
- Using speedlights with third-party radio triggers