I am taking a photojournalism and documentary photography class through the School of Photographic Arts: Ottawa. The first assignment is balancing flash with ambient light, taking photos of strangers outside at night. It is strongly encouraged to take photos in manual mode, rather than the aperture priority mode I normally use. As such, I am learning to adjust my thought process.
Normally, my thinking when it comes to exposure settings looks something like this:
- Will the lighting be changing quickly, not leaving me enough time to change settings? If so, choose a suitable ISO and white balance, set the camera to ‘program’ mode and hope for the best.
- If not, choose a combination of ISO and aperture that is suited to the light and the amount of depth of field I want.
- Make sure the shutter speeds generated are suitable to the situation, subject, and lens.
- Adjust ISO and white balance as necessary.
Switching to manual and balanced flash/ambient light requires choosing an appropriate aperture, then selecting a suitable shutter speed that will underexpose the subject before the addition of E-TTL II metered flash. It’s a workflow that takes some getting used to, but which ought to be helpful in the long run.
Particularly during the dancing at the end, my photos from my cousin Ksenia’s wedding could have used a bit of flash to top up the ambient light.