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What you need to know about using manual mode on your external flash

The message What you should know about using manual mode on your external flash appeared for the first time at Digital Photography School. It is written by Jackie Lamas.

When you get started with flash photography, it may seem as if your flash has its own style. You will be surprised to know that it is true in a certain way. However, switching to manual mode can give you the control that you really want.

1 - Use of manual mode on your external flash

If you use flash in manual mode, you can set the amount of light you want to use on your flash to illuminate your subject.

What is manual mode?

External flashes are set to the ETTL setting by default. With this setting, the flash meter can turn on the light and then give what he thinks is the right light output. ETTL is quite tricky, because every photo you take will have a different output because the flash constantly measures for each image, creating a lot of inconsistency from photo to photo.

2 - Use of manual mode on your external flash

Consult your manual for information about changing your flash from ETTL to Manual. On Canon, press the MODE button until you continue to M, which is manual.

In manual mode, you take over the power output of the flash and you get more consistent illuminated photos. For example, if you are shooting a portrait in one place and do not have to constantly adjust ambient light adjustments, you can set your flash to 1/4 energy and leave it there until you move or want something else.

3 - Use of manual mode on your external flash

When competing with the sun, full power or half power is the best choice.

In manual mode, you overwrite the flash metering and you have complete control. It also allows you to take photos with a shutter speed of more than 1/200 second, which is the fastest shutter speed in ETTL.

4 - Use of manual mode on your external flash

On this specific flash, you can use the button with the "H" on it to use a shutter speed that is faster than 1/200 second. Consult the manual for your flash to find this option.

You can use the manual mode both indoors and outdoors. Practicing with your flash in the manual becomes easier over time and ultimately you can select the right output for the ambient light or effect you want to achieve.

The manual mode is also very useful if you have more than one flash ' slave & # 39 ;. Slaving is when you synchronize multiple flash units so that they go out at the same time. In manual mode, each flash can be set to a different output power, so you can choose which of your most important lights is and what your light is, giving your photos more depth and contrast.

5 - Use of manual mode on your external flash

For these photos, two flashes were used to illuminate the pair and keep the background in the background.

Light measurement for flash in manual mode

Your camera measures the ambient light, but this does not do the same for the flash output. However, do not worry, with practice and a little trial and error, you get to know your flash and when you use full or half power for example.

6 - Use of manual mode on your external flash

Now you are probably wondering what full power even means. An external flash has power levels that are read in fractions. Full power output means that the flash gives everything it has and that it is transcribed as 1/1. From there it can go to 1/64 of its assets.

There is no right way to start practicing. However, it is best to measure the ambient light that you want to achieve in the camera. For example, if you are photographing a family during sunset, meters before sunset. Once you've arranged that, put your flash in manual mode and start with a power of 1/4 power.

7 - Use of manual mode on your external flash

No flash is used for this portrait.

8 - Use of manual mode on your external flash

The same family, location, ambient light and flash used at 1/8 power.

From there adjust the power of the flash until you get the desired result. This way you can be sure that the ambient light has been measured correctly and you use the flash to fill in the light where you want it – in this case in the family.

You can use your flash on your camera or outside the camera in manual mode. If you use the camera outside the camera, you get a more angular direction of the light and you can inspire some creative lighting. Be careful with the camera for the power output and the angle in which you have your flash. Outside you probably want to focus the flash on your subjects. Inside, however, you may want the light to bounce off a ceiling or adjacent wall.

9 - Use of manual mode on your external flash

If you use a modifier such as a flash diffuser, keep in mind that the light output is different than when the flash is used without a diffuser. The power needed to illuminate your subject also depends on the distance the flash comes from your subject. When your flash is closer to your subject, it needs less power because the light is closer.

10 - Use of manual mode on your external flash

If you are at a distance, you must turn on the flash to reach the subject completely. This can be particularly difficult in the outdoors, so make sure you check your photos after you have taken some test shots.

When do you use your flash in manual mode

Every time you have to use the flash in manual mode, try to make sure that you use your flash comfortably. This can really help you get consistent photos when you don't move or when the ambient light does not change.

11 - Use of manual mode on your external flash

The left photo is with flash and the right is without flash. Note the blue of the ocean and the sky with the flash versus without the flash.

The best moments to use flash are when you want to let some light shine on your subject when competing with the sun outside, or when you want to control and create light in a studio, to fill in shadows, during sunset or in low light light and for indoor settings.

For example, if you are shooting family portraits outdoors with the sunset, you may need to use the flash to fill in light so that you can get the beautiful sunset and not have your subjects in the dark.

12 - Use of manual mode on your external flash

Left without flash and right with flash.

Another example is when you are in an indoor environment, such as a bride getting ready and allowing your flash to jump from the ceiling to get some light into the room.

Using your flash in a studio environment can be a bit more difficult because flashes do not come with modeling lights. When shooting in a dark room, using a flashlight to focus your camera first can be a big help. Some flashes work flickering to help you focus, refer to your manual to enable this function.

13 - Use of manual mode on your external flash

One flash used for both photos ' s. The left has the flash for the pair and the second has the flash behind the pair.

If you use more than one flash at different output levels, you can also take beautiful pictures with a lot of depth, just like real studio flashes, but with more portability and less expensive.

To do this, your channels or some flashes must also come with built-in sync transmitters. This means that when one flash goes off another, it also goes off.

Other important factors when shooting with flash in manual mode

A few things to keep in mind when shooting subjects with flash in manual mode are the batteries, shutter speed, ambient light metering, and super-fast synchronization.

14 - Use of manual mode on your external flash

Use flash to fill in the pair and capture the sunset.

When shooting at 1/4 power or more, you will go through batteries much faster. A battery pack specially designed for flashes and professional cameras can come in handy, especially if you are going to use the flash for a long period of time. It can also make flash recycling much faster.

What is flash recycling? It is the amount of time the flash needs to recycle and ready to flash again. The more power you set with the flash, the more time it takes to recycle. For example, a flash at 1/2 power takes more time to be ready to shoot again than a flash at 1/16.

15 - Use of manual mode on your external flash

Use flash in a corner to creatively light your subject.

It also takes much longer for the flash to be recycled when the batteries run out and the battery runs out. Ensure that at least three or more sets of batteries are ready in case this occurs.

When using a flash in ETTL, the fastest shutter speed that you can use is 1 / 200th, in some it can be as high as 1 / 250th of a second. This is not too fast if you photograph with light in the open air or in competition with the sun. Many flashes have the possibility for high synchronization speeds when you use the flash in manual mode.

16 - Use of manual mode on your external flash

Using the flash indoors, bounced against the ceiling at about 1/16 power.

The distance from the flash to your subject can also affect where you can turn on the flash in manual mode. The farther your flash is from your subject, the more power you need to let the light reach your subject. The closer you are, the less power you need. Of course this depends on where you photograph your subject and whether ambient light is a factor.

Practice makes perfect

The use of flash can seem really intimidating. However, operating your flash by using it in manual mode can be just the right move to feel comfortable with a flash. Practice makes perfect and the more you practice with your flash, the more you will understand how to use it in certain light situations.

17 - Use of manual mode on your external flash

Flash used at 1/16 power to fill light and get catch lamps in the eyes.

Unfortunately, cameras do not include flash settings in the metadata of your images. It only registers if the flash is fired or not. This is not useful if you try to practice flash in manual mode.

Carry a small notebook around and record your settings in your camera for every photo you take. This way you can remember what your flash settings in that particular setup were and are light for future use.

18 - Use of manual mode on your external flash

If you use the flash at a 45-degree angle to the subject outside the camera, you can fill the light.

As time goes on, you can set, test and use your flash more comfortably in manual mode.

Finally

19 - Use of manual mode on your external flash

Use flash light at 1/2 power indoors outside the camera, high on a flash light pole and directed directly at the subject. This imitates the light from the sun for these indoor photos.

If you feel that you are using your flash, your images sometimes get an inconsistent appearance, try using your flash in manual mode. In manual mode you have full control over how much light you want the flash to flash, so you have more consistent exposures and take away the guesswork of the flash itself.

Try it and let us know if these tips have helped you!

The message What you should know about using manual mode on your external flash appeared for the first time at Digital Photography School. It is written by Jackie Lamas.

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