Join Levi Sim for an in-depth discussion in this video Choosing the right flash modes, part of Flash Photography: Nikon Speedlites.
- Let me introduce you to all the modes in the flash. There's the TTL mode, there's manual mode. There's also repeating mode, which is really a cool little feature, and there's the guide number mode, and there's auto aperture mode. I don't use all those. I really just use TTL and manual, but I just wanna introduce you to what they are. I've now got the SB-900 up here. The SB-700 doesn't have some of these modes. TTL, as we've already looked at a few times, is our simplest way to communicate between the camera and the flash.
It uses the information coming through the lens, which is what TTL stands for, to make the right exposure. By pressing the mode button we can cycle to different modes. I'm now in manual mode, and manual mode gives me control over everything about the flash. And it's really not a thing to be intimidated by. If the picture is too bright, you just make it darker. If the picture is too dark, you just make the flash brighter. To change power, you press this second button, which highlights the fraction.
1/1 means full power. Turning the dial downward, it goes darker in thirds of a stop increments. And we get down to 1/2 power, and then down to 1/4 power, and it goes all the way down to 1/128 power, which is a very minimal pop of light. I often use that when I'm using a wider aperture or a very close flash to my subject. The next mode is repeating flash, and this is cool because it fires the flash several times in a row while the shutter is open.
You might use this to record a dancer moving across a stage with a long exposure of maybe one second or three seconds. You'll see the dancer lit up in different spots across the stage in the same picture. That's pretty neat. Or a sports action picture, perhaps a snowboarder flying across a jump. Things like that would be pretty fun to use with repeater mode. I don't use it that often. You should go out and play with it, but it's not the daily-use setting that I'm talking about in this course.
Auto aperture mode is a legacy mode. The camera can measure the distance from the subject to the camera by using the lens focus information, and knowing how far away the subject is, and knowing the aperture that the camera is set to, the flash makes the right amount of light come out of the flash. It works pretty well, but it's really been replaced by the TTL settings, so I'd recommend you use that most of the time instead of the auto aperture.
Some of the speed lights still have a guide number mode, and guide numbers used to be the way that we determined how bright a flash was and what aperture we needed to use. You hafta calculate distance, and know the aperture that you're using in your camera, and it's really kinda complicated, and I don't recommend you use it. But it's there if that's the style of flash measurement that you like to use. Commander mode is my favorite thing about using Nikon speed lights. It allows me to use this flash, or even my pop-up flash, as a control unit that fires flashes away from the camera.
To enter this mode on the SB-900, SB-910, or SB-700, you simply depress the on switch and turn it all the way to the right to where it says master. For the SB-800, it's a little trickier, but it's not bad once you've done it a few times. To enter commander mode, you press and hold the center select button for three seconds. And then you wanna navigate to the right here. If you started here, navigate over here, with the little squiggly lines, those mean wireless.
Then press select one more time to enter that menu. And then go down once to master and press and hold the select button for three more seconds to come back out to the shooting mode. Like I say, commander mode allows us to control flashes that are not connected to the camera. This is really cool and we've got a whole section on that later in the course.
You'll also find out how to set up your Nikon 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