Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Candlelight Photos Revisited: Birthday Cake

ISO 1600, f/2.8, 1/125

This is just a short follow-up to my previous post about candlelight photos which has been updated with an alternative approach to setting the color balance.

Coincidentally, we celebrated my father-in-law's birthday last week and I got to use a similar technique again to capture images of the candlelit cake.  I was using a Nikon D70, a Sigma 50-150 f/2.8 and a Nikon SB-800 flash.
1.  I wanted to bounce the flash from the ceilings.  But the ceilings were a medium-stained wood, so I knew I would need substantial power.  I set the ISO to the highest usable ISO - in the case of the D70, it's 1600 (which is also its maximum ISO).
2.  In manual exposure mode, I chose the widest usable aperture.  In this case, I went wide open with f/2.8.
3.  Paying attention to the camera's light meter, I set the shutter speed so that the ambient would be about 1 stop underexposed.
4.  I didn't need to gel the flash because it was going to bounce from the wood ceiling overhead, which would give the bounced flash an orange color cast, as if I had used about a 1/2 or full CTO gel.
5.  The flash was on TTL.  I took a test shot, prepared to adjust the flash exposure as necessary using the flash exposure compensation.  I found that as it was, the flash had just barely enough power to bounce off the ceiling, therefore there was no need to decrease the FEC.

If you take a look at the shot, it's not obvious that flash was used.  Upon close inspection of my father-in-law's face, however, we see from the shadows that the light was in fact coming from above him, not the candles, proving that he was indeed being illuminated by the flash.

ISO 1600, f/2.8, 1/40

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