Join Levi Sim for an in-depth discussion in this video When to shoot in Commander mode, part of Flash Photography: Nikon Speedlites.
- Now we're getting into the really exciting stuff. We're gonna talk about Commander mode. And this is the part where I can use my camera to control a flash that's away from my camera. This is off-camera flash work that we're talking about. Commander mode, in the Nikon camera, allows me to not only make that flash fire, but control the output, the brightness of that flash. And I can do it for multiple flashes all at once. Commander mode is really cool, however, it's not available in all cameras.
You can know for sure if your camera is capable two ways. Firstly, if you have a small LCD on the top of your camera like this one, the chances are your camera will work in Commander mode. Or you can pop into the camera menu and find out real quick if you've got it. Go into the Menu, go into the Custom Settings Menu and down to Bracketing and Flash. Go into Bracketing and Flash, and then come down to E3, Flash Control for Built-in Flash.
If Commander mode is an option right here, then your camera is capable of controlling other speedlights with its built-in pop-up flash. Don't worry if you don't have this capability built into your camera. You can still use another speedlight on top of the camera to control the other lights. I love this thing, and I'm excited to teach you how to use Commander mode. Why do you want to use Commander mode? Simply to control flashes that are away from the camera.
Well, why do we want to have flashes away from the camera? Mainly to get really quality lighting out of them. We can use the flash away from the camera to change the direction of light falling on our subjects. We can create more flattering light this way, shadows that reveal the form and texture of a person, soft light that helps to conceal blemishes in skin, soft light that's beautiful and dramatic. We can increase drama by using deeper shadows or decrease the drama by lightening the background.
We can use these flashes as environmental lights. It's a really cool thing. We can use more than one light. We can put one light behind our subject, shining forward as a rim light, adding just a little kiss of light to the side. We can put it in the background somewhere, lighting up something else that we want to have in the picture as an important part. We can shine light to emphasize it. We can also use these lights to increase the appearance of ambient light, often by bouncing into the ceiling from a different spot.
I can make it look like there's more light shining in the room than there actually is at the time. Nikon calls this system the Creative Lighting System, where the flash and camera can communicate with one another when they're separated. And it really is a powerful way to make interesting and dramatic light on your subjects. This part of the course is primarily about how to make it work, the buttons, the functions, the names of things. You should definitely check out courses from people like Ben Long, and David Hobby, the Strobist.
These are also in the Lynda library and I'd recommend you to them to learn about the creative use of this stuff. Use this course to reference the terms and techniques that they're talking about.
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