Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Nikon CLS

When dusk sets in and the sky turns into a sunny overcast and you’re on an outdoor location shoot where guerilla-type of shooting is the name of the game, this is where the Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) reigns supreme over its main rival, the Canon e-TTL wireless flash system.

With just a flick of a button, you can turn your Nikon SB-800 into a wireless slave flash unit and aim it at an angle where you can achieve better lighting effects to be triggered by the D200 in the commander mode. The niceties of the result is that you can expose the background and at the same time light up the profile of your subject. Doing this without a flash would overexpose and wash out the background or if the shooting is done with an onboard flash, soft or even harsh shadows would appear in the most unpleasant places. Results gained from previous experience usually dictates where you would intuitively place your slave flash unit to attain a natural lighting with less prominent shadows.

In the sample photos shown, Nikon’s CLS was called upon to light up an extremely difficult lighting situation. With shadows falling in and the face of the model appearing as darkly lit, a fill in flash becomes a necessity. I set the CLS of the D200 in the manual mode with the built-in flash acting only as a pre-flash trigger to avoid contributing further shadow cast on the background. The SB-800 acting as remote flash to fill in some light on the face of the model was placed below the eye level. Flash compensation was set at -1/8 EV which is just enough to clean up the subject where the use of a flash is not too obvious. The main advantage of doing this is that the use of a fill in flash would not blow out the highlights which can hardly be corrected even in Photoshop.

The last of the sample photos was taken under extreme conditions where darkness was starting to set in so I increased the Flash Compensation to -1/2 in the manual mode. The result – an acceptably well-exposed shot where the background was still captured with so much ambience to impart the time of the day when the photo was taken.

Modelling credit goes to Erica

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