Studio Lighting - Metering Help?

This is a discussion on Studio Lighting - Metering Help? within the Flash forums, part of the Photography Tips category; I just received my order of studio lighting. It consists of the following: Backdrop/Stand 2 Side Lights/Stands/Umbrellas (these lights stay lit) 1 Background Light/Stand I ...

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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    I just received my order of studio lighting. It consists of the following:

    2 Side Lights/Stands/Umbrellas (these lights stay lit)
    1 Background Light/Stand

    I am also working with an off camera flash that is triggered by either a sync chord or my on-board flash (which I hate to use because it harshens the lighting)

    Here is my problem....

    My camera (Canon Rebel T2i) normally shows me my exposure in my viewfinder (-2...-1....0....+1....+2). When shooting with the studio lights, it sees the steady on lights I have set up, but it does NOT take into consideration my off camera flash, so there's no way to figure out where my exposure is without taking pictures, over and over, until they "appear" to be properly exposed on my LCD screen (which isn't always true-to-form).

    I'm certain this is probably just a matter of adjusting the settings in my camera or on my flash, but I'm unsure how to do it or if it's even possible. Does anyone have any ideas?

  • #2
    Super Moderator
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Michigan, USA
    Canon 5D mk II, EF 14mm f/2.8L II, TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II, EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS, EF 135mm f/2L, EF 300mm f/2.8L IS, Speelite 430EX II, 5380EX II
    The camera will automatically deal with additional flashes if they work with the cameras E-TTL metering system. For manual flashes you can use a light meter.

    I have one of these:

    It's important that the meter have a mode for metering "flash" (not all light meters do). In that mode, the flash begins metering the light but registers and freezes it's display at the highest level it sees (when the strobes fire) and shows the light value at that moment in time. You can then set the cameras controls to match.

    Tim Campbell

  • #3
    Nikon Shooter
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Eatontown, NJ
    Surf over to this web site and start reading...

    Check the Lighting 101 links and then On Assignment. David is excellent at explaining how to do manual flash adjustments, and start out in the ballpark and get it right in a few shots- all without buying an expensive flash meter.

    Your "steady on" lights are referred to as "hot lights" or "cold lights" depending on the type of bulb you are using (incandescent would obviously be hot, because, well, just ask your model! CFL's would be cold).

    In your scenario, your hot lights are really just ambient light and you are correct, your camera will meter these just fine. I'm not too familiar with the Canon equipment, but I'm sure it has some form of TTL (Through The Lens) flash metering- so, in this mode, the camera will adjust the flash duration when there is enough light for the scene.

    But if you're in manual flash mode (non-TTL), here's a quick way to get the right exposure...

    1- Put your camera in Manual mode. Set the flash to 1/2 power. This just comes with experience.
    2- Set the shutter speed at the highest flash sync speed for your camera. Probably 1/250, 1/200, or something in that range (find out for your camera). This will darken the scene a bit, most likely.
    3- Set your aperture wide open. This exposure will require you to use the least amount of flash power since flash exposure is adjusted with aperture only.
    4- Take a test shot. How does the background look? Is the flash overpowering? Cut the flash power in half, or double it depending on your results.
    5- Reduce your aperture (smaller opening) to get the background exposure that you want. You may have to bring flash power up a bit.

    If the flash lighting is good- leave your aperture alone and adjust the background by changing your shutter speed (but you can't go faster than your maximum flash sync speed).

    So it kind of depends on what you want your background to look like. I generally meter for the background first and then dial in the appropriate flash power for that aperture. I don't mind taking 5-10 shots to get it right if I'm in a studio setting. If I don't have the time for this, I switch to Nikon's CLS TTL system which is excellent and I generally get the right exposure in 1-2 shots.


    Check out my blog! ---


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