Lighting Journey: Top Three Tricks-and-Treats for Manual Camera Settings

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Since getting my feet wet with manual camera settings, I've honed-in on some tried-and-true methods for making the most of my new-found manual mania.

1) 5d Mark II Works for Me (Unless It Doesn't): Perfect as it is, the 5d Mark II shutter drags across the capture sensor when you set the shutter speed at 1/180th of a second and faster--resulting in only a partially lit frame. Conversely, the 1DS series offers an iris-leaf shutter that captures completely lit images at any shutter speed.

2) Sharp Shooter: If you're a quick shooter, it's best to invest in a high capacity strobe like a Profoto 1,000 w/s monolight. Not only does it offer the obvious advantage of more power, it also recycles much faster if you don't have your strobe set on the highest possible power setting.

3) Saucy Strobe: Because a strobe emits all of its light in a single burst, whether the shutter speed is fast or slow doesn't matter. The amount of light that the capture sensor receives from the strobe remains constant regardless of the camera's shutter speed. The desired light level from the strobe will still be retained. For instance, when shooting with strobe in a moody environment, drag the shutter to preserve the low-level, environmental ambient light. The strobe will expose your subject and the longer shutter speed with capture the ambient-lit background.

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  1. Proud of You!! Way to kick yourself out of your comfort zone!! Keep running!!

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  2. CatherineHall

    Thanks for your support Damion!

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  3. I believe that what you were trying to say about the leaf shutter and the 5D MarkII and the 1DS is that the Mark DS has a leaf shutter which can sync flash at any shutter speed were the 5D MarkII has a Curtain Shutter which can only sync flash up to a shutter speed of 1/180th due to the “Travel” of the shutter across the film plane or sensor plane so fast that by the time the flash goes off the curtain shutter is already “Closing” across the opening. This results in anything above the 1/180th to start getting the dreaded black line to black half frame to all the way black image. So what your seeing is that black shutter in the image area.

    Having a leaf shutter has its flash “Sync” advantages which are of course mixing flash with daylight or bright ambient light scenes with a less powerful flash and being more flexible with exposures. The old days of Mamiya RB67 or RZ 67 medium format and other larger format cameras was one of the reason why us commercial shooters used them extensively because they had leaf shutters.

    As well as for the ability to use polaroid backs on those cameras in order to see a “Instant” image to judge exposure and lighting prior to committing to film. Which was very unforgiving. “Wow” imagine shooting blindly without your LCD screen today!? To actually review each image after each shot like today! The old days we would do polaroids and run snip tests on roll runs and then decide to “Push” or “Pull” a 1/4 or 1/2 stop achieve the perfect exposure on our chromes. Phew! Things have come a long ways from those dark times. Oh and lets not forget how we used to retouch black and white negatives! With a sharp pointing metal needles which was called “Poking a Neg” Yikes!

    Ok enough about the good ole days of walking in the snow uphill both ways to school…

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