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Canon 600EX


Hello all. I wanted to know if there is a way to turn down the brightness of the flash. Say if I am in a dark setting and I just want a little bit of light to fill in the subject.


Also what  does the setting that change the flashes 50mm to 100mm do?  That's not the power level is it?


Also if you have a diffuser on the flash is it still better to take the diffuser off and bounce the flash instead?


Thanks for all your help TCampbel. I was getting confused on some of the concepts of using the flash. I still a little fuzzy on some things but I will learn as I shoot more.


Happy Holidays to all!!!!

OK. I have one more question. I have been photographing a lot of smaill indie concerts. Sometimes I can use my flash, however when I do, it usually over power the ambient light of the stage lights. Now is there any way to get a fill in flash just to light up the artist face without blowing out the rest of the lights.? The stage lights could be red or blue or green.

In a situation like that I would use a lot of trial and error to get it right.  


I would start by getting the camera exposure roughly where I want it without using flash, and then add just a little flash using manual flash at a very low  power setting. (1/64 maybe?) This is also where you might want to manually zoom the flash head for a narrow beam because you are not trying to light up the entire stage, 


You could also try using ETTL flash, but dial in lots of  "-"  Flash Exposure Compensation. Start with -3 FEC and work up from there if needed.   

Mike Sowsun

OK. I was thinking the same thing. I just wanted comfirmation. Part of my problem was that the subject was becoming a shadow on stage.  I am thinking that I also need to upgrade to a full frame camera. It seems most of the photography I am doing is extreme low light.


Ok I will practice what you suggested.

Before shooting at any venue, if it were me I'd try to go by and do some lighting tests in advance.


You might need to filter the flash's output, to match the color of the type of lighting being used (the color of the bare lighting, without any of the color filtration). You will probably need to set a custom or hand selected color temp in the camera, to keep Auto White Balance from reacting to the colored stage lighting and "correting" them.


Start with your camera on one of the automatic exposure modes, and the flash set to ETTL and FEC set to 0. The camera will try to make the image by the ambient light, recording the stage lighting, and the flash will be fired as FILL, about 1.5 to 1.7 stops underexposure. Dial it up or down as you see fit, to increase or decrease the fill, using FEC.  


You can do this manually, too, as described above. Set up the camera alone, without the flash, to record the basic exposure. Just remember that in M mode the camera will want to fire the flash as FULL, so you will need to dial it down 1.5 to 1.7 stops, or maybe a little more or a little less.


When using the camera in M, you could use the 1/4 power setting of the flash, too... but the result of that will be the same as -2 stops. The problem with using the fractional settings is that it will be full stop increments only (1/2 = 1 stop, 1/4 = 2 stops, 1/8= 3 stops, etc.)


You very likely don't want to use bounce flash in a case like this. You will need direct flash. You likely shouldn't try to diffuse the fill flash, either. Bounce or diffusion will simply force the flash to fire more powerfully and recycle more slowly. Bounce light also can cause unwanted shadoes, or if bounced off too high a ceiling or a ceiling that's too dark colored can be underpowered or lost completely, or can cause a tint if the ceiling is any color other than white.


Alan Myers

San Jose, Calif., USA
"Walk softly and carry a big lens."
GEAR: 5DII, 7D(x2), 50D(x3), some other cameras, various lenses & accessories


amfoto1 you are right. The flash seems to correct, using white light, all the collored light in my photos. I do have some color filters that came with the flash. I could try those.  But my problem in this case might be the white balance? I should do a custom white balance right?


But direct light? won't that create shadows even for fill flash? Well all I can do is try it out at my next show. Thanks.

OK. I shot a concert yesterday and the flash in manual seemed to work the best. I was able to dial down the power which help with the fill. Now I have to try the other suggestions.


But one thing I noticed was that without the flash, my pictures are kind of fuzzy.  With the flash, the pictures have a kind of hardness and sharpness to them. Does that have to do with ISO?

"Fuzzy" sounds to me like the shutter wasn't fast enough to feeze any movement. The movement could be from either camera shake or subject movement. Even with a slow shutter, the flash would freeze the subject and you would get a sharp photo. (flash duration is very short and will mimic a fast shutter speed)  


Can you post a sample photo?


What was your shutter speed?


Did the ISO change when using flash?

Mike Sowsun

ok I will post some tonight unprocessed O'natural.


My shutter speed was between 30 to 125 for some of the shots. I pushed it up to 400 with a flash to catch action.


I did change the iso from 3200 to 6400 and back at times.


Now when I say fuzzy, I all so mean kinda grainy too. So I guess that's iso.

When you use the flash there really isn't a need to make the shutter speed faster than 1/125. The flash duration is something like 1/8000 and that will freeze the movement for you.  Lower flash power means even shorter duration and it could be as fast as 1/20000 at low power.


Yes, higher ISO will give you grainy photos, but underexposed high ISO is even worse. Most people will tell you to try and slightly overexpose high ISO shots to reduce the grainyness.


If you used your flash with ISO 6400 it would probably have reduced the underexposure and give you cleaner photos with less grain.


Canon 580EX flash duration:


1/1 power = 1/1000 second
1/2 power = 1/2000
1/4 power = 1/4000
1/8 power = 1/9000
1/16 power = 1/15000
1/32 power = 1/21000
1/64 power = 1/30000
1/128 power = 1/35000

Mike Sowsun
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