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How to balance flash and ambient light on Panasonic G.

Discussion in 'Panasonic Cameras' started by hillwalkinggirl, Feb 24, 2012.

  1. hillwalkinggirl

    hillwalkinggirl Mu-43 Regular

    99
    Feb 9, 2011
    Barbara
    I'm trying to work out how to balance flash and ambient light on my G3, so that I can get the background dark and the subject light. I am using Manual mode, setting my required aperture, ISO 100 and exposing for the background. I then take a photo with my Nissin flashgun on camera, and increase the shutter speed to get desired result.

    Now I know that the fastest sync speed on my G3 is 1/160, but even at this speed I cannot get the background as dark as I would like it.

    If I shoot in Aperture mode would adjusting the exposure compensation work or does this act globally to adjust the flash as well.

    Is there anyway to do this. Any suggestions please?
     
  2. Aegon

    Aegon Mu-43 Veteran

    334
    Nov 3, 2011
    Portland, OR
    Some flashes do High Speed Sync (HSS), which pulses smaller bursts repeatedly to allow faster shutter speeds, but I don't think any Nissin µ43 flashes do this.

    You can keep it in manual, set shutter at 1/160, then dial down the aperture until the background is dark enough. As you stop down further the flash will have to work harder, and at some point you might be limited by your flash output depending on subject distance.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Empireme

    Empireme Mu-43 Regular

    150
    Aug 25, 2011
    LA, CA
    I'm no professional. And others please chime in if I'm giving incorrect advice...

    But my opinion is that your approach is backwards.

    I think you should be decreasing your shutter speed in order for more ambient light to come in...thus having your camera put out a lower output of light so that only your subject matter is lit but the background is black. Also, it depends on the distance between yourself and the subject and also the distance from the subject to the background.

    Let me find the link that demonstrates exactly what you're talking about...

    Please note that lowering your shutter speed will show motion if your subject is moving...
     
  4. Empireme

    Empireme Mu-43 Regular

    150
    Aug 25, 2011
    LA, CA
    Found it! Read the whole 3 pages. The thread starts off slow but gets to the point really quickly about the question that you posted!


    https://www.mu-43.com/f43/indoor-photos-kids-21166/

    Cliff Notes:

    John M. Flores states:

    My friend explained flash photography as follows...

    With a flash, you are taking two pictures,
    A-with the light from the flash
    B-with the ambient light.

    All too often a flash photo contains all A and no B. That's because a lot of flash modes default to setting the shutter speed to the flash sync speed - 1/180 or even 1/250. Imagine a non-flash photo taken indoors at 1/180. Usually underexposed, right?

    Dragging the shutter is the process of slowing down the shutter to capture more ambient light (B) so that the photo has a balance of light from the flash (A) and light from the room (B). The result is a photo that looks like it was taken in a room, not a dark tunnel.

    One side effect is that the flash doesn't have to work so hard. Because it can operate with reduced power, it can actually recycle faster and you can get more flash shots from a set of batteries.

    The light from the flash also helps to stop motion. As ~TC~ suggests, some blur can be nice too. So if you really drag the shutter, you can often see some motion blur from the ambient light mixed with a sharper image from the flash. Let's call this Ghosting.

    How do you drag the shutter? Set the camera to Manual. Choose your desired Aperture, and then adjust your Shutter speed for proper exposure. If the shutter speed is very slow - i.e., 1/15 or slower, you'll get a lot of background blur and Ghosting. You can increase your shutter speed by increasing the ISO. With the 14mm, adjust ISO until you can get shutter speeds around 1/30. If the meter shows that you are underexposed by a stop or so, that's ok. You'll still capture ambient light, but not as much.

    Play. Enjoy. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. After all, it's digital.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    No, no... for quick light fall-off you want a fast shutter speed, with powerful (but softened) lights near the subject. That will turn the background dark as night and expose the subject clear as day. If you "drag the shutter" by freezing subject motion with the strobe (to an extent) while allowing a slower shutter, then you will let more ambient light in and get a more evenly exposed frame.
     
  6. hillwalkinggirl

    hillwalkinggirl Mu-43 Regular

    99
    Feb 9, 2011
    Barbara
    Thank you for your reply but I think that you are seeing it the wrong way round. This method would make the background balanced with the foreground, but what I am trying to do is make the background darker so that it is less visible, or at the extreme end to make the background completely black. On my Nikon D7000 I do this by using a setting which allows for very fast shutter speeds, thus reducing the amount of ambient light, but unfortunately the G2's fastest shutter speed when using flash is 1/160.
     
  7. hillwalkinggirl

    hillwalkinggirl Mu-43 Regular

    99
    Feb 9, 2011
    Barbara
    Thank you Ned. I agree, but can you think of any way that I can achieve this?
     
  8. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    You don't need a faster shutter shutter speed than 1/160s to accomplish this. In fact, you don't even have to come anywhere close to X-Sync speed. What makes the background black is light fall-off. You just need to bring your lights closer to your subject while keeping them as powerful as you can without causing blow outs (good diffusion is important - and you can stop down to cut the light as well). If this is still not doing it, then invest in more lights or more powerful lights.

    PS, in Empireme's defense your thread title does ask, "how to balance flash and ambient light", which is a little confusing when you're essentially asking how to un-balance them. :D
     
    • Like Like x 2
  9. hillwalkinggirl

    hillwalkinggirl Mu-43 Regular

    99
    Feb 9, 2011
    Barbara
    Thanks Aegon. From what I can see the Nissin doesn't do HSS. I guess I'll just have to use my Nikon. It's a shame thought that there doesn't seem any way to get round this.
     
  10. Empireme

    Empireme Mu-43 Regular

    150
    Aug 25, 2011
    LA, CA
    Oops. My bad! Thanks for the help Ned.
     
  11. Warren T.

    Warren T. Mu-43 Veteran

    338
    Mar 10, 2010
    San Francisco
    Use the fastest shutter speed and the smallest aperture that your subject and flash power will allow. Lower the ambient (background) light as much as possible. Adjust your composition so that your subject is as close to the camera and as far from the background as possible. You can also try an off-camera flash position, angling the output of the flash away from the background. Experiment until you get the correct angles and positions of subject, flash, and background.

    Hope that helps a bit :)

    --Warren
     
  12. Warren T.

    Warren T. Mu-43 Veteran

    338
    Mar 10, 2010
    San Francisco
    You can also try light modification devices that will help direct the flash output only at your subject and reduce flash dispersion... a flash snoot.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    Debi
    Can you be more specific as to exactly what you are trying to achieve? Can you point us to an example photo? Maybe then we can give you more specific instructions.
     
  14. starlabs

    starlabs Mu-43 Top Veteran

    856
    Sep 30, 2010
    Los Angeles
    I believe the effect the OP wanted is a low key photo (background is black):

    [ame=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91gU93J2Q8k]Low Key photography anywhere (flash tips) - YouTube[/ame]

    The opposite is a high key photo (background white, blown out):

    [ame=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUvkWkxFb2M&feature=relmfu]High key photography anywhwere (flash photography tips) - YouTube[/ame]
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. hillwalkinggirl

    hillwalkinggirl Mu-43 Regular

    99
    Feb 9, 2011
    Barbara
    Sorry, Ned's quite right, my question was a bit ambiguos. I should have said unbalance.:redface:
     
  16. hillwalkinggirl

    hillwalkinggirl Mu-43 Regular

    99
    Feb 9, 2011
    Barbara
    Thanks Warren.
     
  17. hillwalkinggirl

    hillwalkinggirl Mu-43 Regular

    99
    Feb 9, 2011
    Barbara
    Thanks Sprinke and Starlabs. The low key is exactly what I mean.
     
  18. FastCorner

    FastCorner Mu-43 Veteran

    309
    May 28, 2011
    I experimented a bit when I bought my FL-50R and found that ND filter + FP sync really gives you versatility in pulling off the low-key effect, especially if you want shallow DOF in the process.
     
  19. hillwalkinggirl

    hillwalkinggirl Mu-43 Regular

    99
    Feb 9, 2011
    Barbara
    I've tried the ND filter but unfortunately my Nissin flash doesn't have FP sync.
     
  20. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    Debi
    You really need to make sure that none of the light from your flash is falling on the background. Either make the background really far away from your subject, shield it from any light, or put a WHOLE lot of light on your subject. Don't expose for the background ... you want the background to be black, right?