The New Manual DSLR Project

Hi, and welcome to my blog. The Manual DSLR Project was started March 30, 2010 with the intent of devoting one year to learning how to use my Nikon D300 in manual mode. I invited you to join me as I took this journey. You celebrated with me as my fingers began to remember which wheel adjusts the shutter speed and which controls the aperture settings. I was brutally honest in sharing my mistakes.

A year passed quickly...and I achieved my goal of demystifying the manual operation of my camera.

While the Manual DSLR Project was intended to be bound by time (one year), I am eager to keep the conversation going. So look for additional posts on anything related to photography. And interact. Let me know if you are reading the blog and find it useful.

All the best...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Getting Started with Manual Flash

Don't you love Spring? I do. I love the weather, the flowers blooming, the birds singing, etc. I have been pretty busy lately, but have had a few chances to get out in the back yard lately and take a few shots most afternoons.

I recently purchased a new Nikon 24-70 f2.8. While I haven't done any "serious" photography since I bought it, it has been on my D300 and I bring it out to use it every chance I get. It's a sweet lens.

And don't think that I have abandoned the Manual DSLR project - Year Two. What I am doing now is getting used to the controls of my Nikon SB600 speedlight. Has this ever happened to you? You pull out a piece of equipment that you use a fair amount to find that you don't quite remember how to get it off of commander mode? That's as simple as a reset of the settings, but my goal is to be as familiar with its controls as I am with my camera's controls.

If you are new to manual flash like I am I have an exercise for you. Place your flash on full power and point it toward a dark area in your house. I pointed it down a dark hallway in which a photo is hanging. Test fire the flash at full power to see how much light it puts out and how long it takes to recycle. Then cut it to 1/2 power and do the same thing. Then go down to, say, 1/16 power. Continue doing this until you get to its lowest power setting. For the SB600 that is 1/64 power.

You should learn two things. First, you should get an idea of how bright your flash is at various power settings. Secondly, you should understand how much faster the flash recycles when at a lower power setting. This should reinforce the philosophy of using two speedlights at half power or four speedlights at 1/4 power instead of using one at full power. Kerry Garrison, at Camera Dojo, got me thinking about this after hearing one of his recent podcasts. It makes sense, and after comparing the flash and recycle time at various power settings, I'm convinced that's the way to go.

Now if I can find my old Vivitar flash that I have had for years...

All the best...Mike