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General photography questions and answers: Discuss Need Help - Instructions Needed...Okay I read the thread on concert photography and wanted to try the "dragging the shutter" trick at a local ...
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Old 23-04-2009, 19:54   #1 (permalink)
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Need Help - Instructions Needed

Okay I read the thread on concert photography and wanted to try the "dragging the shutter" trick at a local high school talent show.

Background:
I was shooting with a Nikon D300 and for this shoot I chose to only bring my Nikkor 50mm f1.4D and my Nikkor 85mm f1.8D and left my Nikkor 80-200 f2.8 at home (looking back I should have taken this lens as well but I was in a rush)

The stage was sunken but I had access to about 20-30 meters from the performers. The stage was black and quite bare with a few fixed spotlights on the performers.

What I did. I shot at around f1.4 to f2.8 at 1/160th and an ISO of around 1600 to 2000.

What I wanted to do:
Drag the shutter and shoot at around f1.4 to f2.8 with a shutter speed of 1/20th to 1/60th such that I can freeze the performer's face while showing their hands or instuments in a blur of movement. I set my SB800 at TTL and exposure to Manual setting as stated above. My results when I took shots at these settings?
1) The pictures had a Blue tone/hue even though my WB was set to Flash
2) More pictures than I care to count was WAY WAY over exposed.
3) The grain was unacceptable when I somehow was able to get a half decent exposure and allowed the ambient light to fill the stage.

I don't really cared too much about this shoot as it was not a gig or anything, just a place to test how to drag the shutter, but from my experience I certainly have not understood how to drag the shutter properly with the SB800 set at TTL. Please help.

Thank you
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Old 23-04-2009, 21:13   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Need Help - Instructions Needed

I may be wrong but if using flash does not setting it to the rear curtain sync setting work for this?? firing the flash at the end of the exposure just before the shutter closes, freezing the main subject but allowing motion blur?? or am i totally off the mark?
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Old 23-04-2009, 22:41   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Need Help - Instructions Needed

Not done anything like this but:

1. Not sure why it would be blue but if you shoot RAW (or RAW+JPG if you insist on JPG!) and correct it afterwards in post-process

2. Whilst you set the camera to manual, the flash was setting the duration according to the black backcloth - either use manual settings or possibly get away with exposure compensation (prob at least -2.0). Add rear curtain synch, as suggested by damot, to get the blur happening behind the 'flash frozen' subject

3. Sounds pretty dark! Not much you can do if you can't up the ISO sufficiently without introducing unacceptable noise
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Old 23-04-2009, 23:19   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Need Help - Instructions Needed

Nope I was at rear curtain Sync. The quality of the shots (which I deleted) was just not acceptable and I was getting half decent results with just a high ISO (with High ISO Noise Reduction set on High on my D300) and shooting wide open.
I will try this again, but from what I was reading I was hoping the TTL will correctly expose for me and I would be able to control the amount of ambient light via the camera setting rather than having to manually control the flash as well. I know how to use the flash off camera and lighting ratios, but what I was hoping to obtain from this was letting the ON CAMERA FLASH or the SB800 ON CAMERA deal with the flash exposure for the subject and I control the ambient. Which did not work for me but I know others have done so. So the question is what seetings am I setting wrong (I know how to manually control flash but I actually am not all that familiar with TTL) Do matrix metering? Center metering? Spot metering in such a dark place with the flash on TTL first, then play with the shutter speed.....or set the shutter speed first and then try to expose the TTL flash with spot metering?......I don't know...I am confused...LOL....Manual controls are so much easiler....LOL but darn it I wan to learn this trick!
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Old 23-04-2009, 23:26   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Need Help - Instructions Needed

The flash will read the light according to the exposure setting - if you use Spot Metering then it'll correctly expose according to that small area.
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Old 24-04-2009, 01:57   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Need Help - Instructions Needed

Were you using TTL or TTL-BL mode on the SB-800? If it was the latter, the camera will override your settings and work in an auto mode to balance the light. With TTL mode you can retain control within the flash sync speeds. There is also a slow sync mode on the D300 that has to be worth trying, although 1/60 is not that slow.

Not sure if setting the flash to TTL and the camera to manual would have affected to exposure, but if the camera was reading low light it might have allowed the flash to pump out more light. I think the best way to check is to set up some test shots and try the differnt modes, but if the camera has metered for the artist and then you have some flash light thrown in on top that might account for the over exposure.

I think that having the flash fire at the beginning of the exposure and the shutter remaining open to get the blur afterwards might give you the results you want and you can use minus flash compensation if there is still over exposure.
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