Capturing Passion and Magic

December 16, 2010

Canon 60D Built-in Master Flash Quick Test

One of the reasons I chose to get a 60D was that its built-in popup flash can act as a wireless TTL master - enabling it to control other, off-camera Canon and canon-compatible speedlights.

While this is old news for Nikon shooters, this is a new capability for Canon DSLRs. The only other Canon DSLR that has this is the 7D.

The cool thing here is that you don't have to waste a 550EX, 580EX, or 580EXII atop your camera to control your off-camera flashes. OK, OK - the 60D's built-in flash isn't as powerful or as versatile master as one of the dedicated flashes: it can only control 2 groups of flashes, instead of three, and its lower power means less working range, particularly outdoors.

However, it has enough juice for a lot of uses, it's fast to set up and it's always there.

I finally got a chance to put it through some paces, under a reasonably trying set of conditions: outdoors, sunset time under heavy, leaden skies, in a light rain. Hey, it was my only chance to score some shots of the lovely ice covered branches and pine needles from the day's wintery mix.

Ice Drop

So, the basic set up is the 60D's builtin flash acting as master, in ratio to a slaved Canon 550EX on a stand. The 550 has a Full CTO gel on it, to make it nice and orange, like late, late afternoon light, and a Honl snoot, to narrow the beam. The narrowed beam does two things: it keeps light from spraying all over the background, giving me a clean black background, and it keeps the light from spraying into the lens causing flares, ghosts and loss of contrast.

Iced Buds

I set the ratio between the slave and the master to 8:1, which mean the 550EX was pumping out 3x the light the on camera unit was. I also set the flash exposure compensation to +1 ev, to compensate for the shiny reflective ice. The stand was placed so the 550 would be side lighting or partially rim lighting the subject, creating texture and highlights and shadows, while the built-in flash provided fill in light to ensure detail.

Ice V

It worked pretty well, I think. :-)

Some more notes - I shot these at ISO 200, with a Canon 100mm F/2.8 L IS Macro lens, at F/11 or F/16. The extremely close range, 1.3 feet or so, was the only reason I got away with such high apertures. The 60D's built in flash doesn't have the juice to even fill in F/16 at standard portrait distances.

The 60D's built-in flash's method of autofocus assist is to pulse flash. It's annoying, but it was effective, especially once I took the lens hood off the 100 Macro.

So, was this better than slapping another 550EX on top of my 60D? Well, for this use, yes. I was working in way close, and the built-in flash actually has a better angle for on axis fill in this situation that 550EX standing tall in the hot shoe would have had.

It also made for a lighter, less bulky camera unit - less protruding things to bump and shake branches attached to the subject. As it was, I had to be careful where I place myself. A big, on-camera flash would have made that even more challenging.

Going all-TTL for this was also a huge help. I normally go all manual, but in the rain, with the light quickly dying, it was a blessing not to be fiddling the with power settings on the 550EX as I moved it around. I was able to work faster than usual, and that maximized my picture making time.
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December 06, 2010

2011 Morning Light Calendars Update

2011 Morning Light Calendars Update
It's not too late to buy calendars for Christmas, Avalailable in 11x17 and 13.5 x 19 sizes from my Lulu store . Through Dec, 26, use...
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December 05, 2010

Belly Dancer

Belly Dancer
Yes, Virginia, you can light a small performance venue with 4 speedlights, all firing at less than full power. The lighting for this photo...
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November 28, 2010

Night Pier, with Surf

Night Pier, with Surf
Buy a Print The Surfside Beach Pier (South Carolina) stands stoically as the the tide rolls in. Looking at it in real life, you'd ...
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November 23, 2010

Look Ma, No Flash!

Look Ma, No Flash!
Nothing but afternoon light broken up by a wooden structure, a beautiful woman, and 100mm lens at f/3.2, really tight.
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November 11, 2010

Why Cheap UV/Protective Filters Aren't Worth It

Why Cheap UV/Protective Filters Aren't Worth It
Lots of photographers recommend putting a UV/Skylight filter on every lens you have, to protect the front element from blowing sand, salt, a...
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November 07, 2010

Canon 60D First Impressions from a 50D user

Canon 60D First Impressions from a 50D user
My Canon 60D arrived Friday night. I spent some time with it Friday and Saturday, and here are some quick impressions, and photos. Overall,...
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November 06, 2010

Canon 60D - High ISO Noise Wow

Canon 60D - High ISO Noise Wow
As a 50D user, my first reaction to seeing these on my computer screen after the first round of test shots was: "Holy shit, that's ...
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October 29, 2010

The Red Veil

The Red Veil
Got a lot going on, so a meaty post will have to wait. But- photo!
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October 17, 2010

Diffraction Action -Ours Go to f/32 - But So What?

Diffraction Action -Ours Go to f/32  - But So What?
Lens diffraction - in summary, as you stop down a lens, it slowly becomes less sharp, due to the smaller aperture causing light scatter. Gen...
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October 13, 2010

2011 Morning Light Calendars Now Available

2011 Morning Light Calendars Now Available
Just got my proof copies of my 2011 Morning Light Photo Calendars , and they look sweet! They make great gifts, for yourself and others. G...
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October 03, 2010

Saber Coach

Saber Coach
The key light is Alien Bees 800, left, through a 32x48 softbox, 1/2 power. Right fill provided by another AB800, about 1/8 power, through ...
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September 26, 2010

A 300 at the Parade

A 300 at the Parade
Taken with a 300mm f/4 L, because parades were made for long glass.
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September 19, 2010

Superman Heroes and Villains

Superman Heroes and Villains
Alien Bees 800 on 1/2 power to camera right and left, using the standard 7-inch reflector. Vagabond 300 provided the juice. Two LumoPro ...
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September 11, 2010

My Dragon*Con Set Up

My Dragon*Con Set Up
I go to a fair amount of science fiction conventions . One of the things I do while there is shoot photos of what's going, usually of pe...
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September 01, 2010

She's a Dancer...

She's a Dancer...
Insanely busy, so no explanations this week. Just her.
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August 22, 2010

First try with High Speed Sync & Wireless E-TTL

First try with High Speed Sync & Wireless E-TTL
It wasn't my goal to shoot butterflies. I was going to shoot high school girls volleyball. Unfortunately, the online schedule lied t...
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August 14, 2010

Just a Little Extra Light

Just a Little Extra Light
I'm wandering the halls of the North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC) in Raleigh, North Carolina, when I come across this ...
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August 08, 2010

Liven Up A Speech with an Off-Camera Flash

Liven Up A Speech with an Off-Camera Flash
Speeches are, visually speaking, boring. No matter how eloquent the speaker, it's still a guy speaking. Unless the speaker is incredib...
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July 31, 2010

From the Meetup

From the Meetup
Took this at the Triad Strobist Meetup earlier in the week. The event was a lot of fun, and I got to work with several models, ranging fr...
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July 24, 2010

Long Lens Love : Canon 300 F/4 L IS

Long Lens Love : Canon 300 F/4 L IS
There was a brief while, earlier this year, where I was completely without a lens longer than 200mm. I had sold my Sigma 100-300 F/4 (a fi...
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July 17, 2010

100,000

100,000
My Flickr photostream just crossed 100,000 views a few days ago. It's a good start. :-)
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February 14, 2010

50D RAW Processing Shootout 2: ISO 3200

50D RAW Processing Shootout 2: ISO 3200
As promised , here's the follow up to my previous post comparing RAW Processing from Aperture 2 (AP2), Aperture 3 (AP3), Digital Photo P...
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February 10, 2010

50D RAW Processing Shootout: Aperture 2, Aperture 3, Digital Photo Professional, Lightroom 3 Beta

50D RAW Processing Shootout: Aperture 2, Aperture 3, Digital Photo Professional, Lightroom 3 Beta
In my last post , I complained about how Aperture 2's processing of my Canon 50D's RAW files left in way too much chroma noise and h...
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February 09, 2010

Aperture 3 vs Lightroom 3 Beta - 50D RAW Developing

Aperture 3 vs Lightroom 3 Beta - 50D RAW Developing
Straight up, I like Aperture better than Lightroom. The way it works fits my mind better. However, I've been working with the Lightroo...
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February 09, 2010

Single Speedlight Challenge 2 - A Hard Light, a Long Way off

Single Speedlight Challenge 2 - A Hard Light, a Long Way off
Lighting set up: A Canon 550EX through a 10 degree grid spot about 20 feet away from the cue ball, to camera right, firing straight down t...
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January 06, 2010

Single Speedlight Challenge 1 - A Big Soft Light

Single Speedlight Challenge 1 - A Big Soft Light
One of the things I've been exploring a lot over the last year has been using small strobes, aka, "speedlights", off camera to...
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