How to reduce overexposure with speedlight?

Much2learn

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So, I've been experimenting with my SB700 speedlight, Nikon D5000, Nikkor 50mm f1.4 in bright light situations. Here is the problem that I am having, when I take portraits with the sun behind, the background is overexposed, so I thought I'd use my speedlight to correctly expose the face without overexposing the background. However, my camera won't (or I don't know how to change the setting) let me set the shutter speed at faster than 1/200 when I attach the speedlight so I still end up with an overexposed background unless lower the aperture but then I can't get the dof that I am looking for. Any genius ideas (other than compose the picture so that the sun isn't behind the model)?

Many Thanks

(Apologies in advance for any inaccurate use of terminology - I'm very very new!)
 

MacHoot

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What settings are you using. Manual or Portrait?
 

analog.universe

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Neutral Density filters were invented for exactly this sort of thing. They evenly block a predetermined amount of light from entering the lens, and are labeled by how many stops they actually reduce the exposure.

What shutter speed gets you the exposure you need? You can then calculate how many stops darker you need to get to 1/200.

B+W is a very reputable filter company, with a wide range of ND's, just make sure you get multicoated glass.
 

jamesbjenkins

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Do you understand in-camera metering? The difference between spot, center-weight and matrix metering? You can use spot metering to tell your D5000 what part of your image you want to make sure is properly exposed (in this case the background.)

Also, shutter speed isn't really important at all when you're dealing with a speedlight and a stationary target. Whether your speed is 1/15 or 1/100, the light from your speedlight has already reflected off your subject and hit the sensor. It's been my experience that on a bright sunny day, 1/60 or 1/80 is usually more than enough to properly expose a background if you're following the "Sunny 16" rule. (The Sunny 16 rule is great to study when you're just starting out to give yourself a good foundation for understanding the exposure triangle.)

Hope that helps!
 

MLeeK

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Meter the sky, set your exposure according to that. Use a fill flash to illuminate the subjects correctly and all should be in good exposure
 

analog.universe

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Do you understand in-camera metering? The difference between spot, center-weight and matrix metering? You can use spot metering to tell your D5000 what part of your image you want to make sure is properly exposed (in this case the background.)

Also, shutter speed isn't really important at all when you're dealing with a speedlight and a stationary target. Whether your speed is 1/15 or 1/100, the light from your speedlight has already reflected off your subject and hit the sensor. It's been my experience that on a bright sunny day, 1/60 or 1/80 is usually more than enough to properly expose a background if you're following the "Sunny 16" rule. (The Sunny 16 rule is great to study when you're just starting out to give yourself a good foundation for understanding the exposure triangle.)

Hope that helps!

OP stated that they're trying to shoot with a shallow DOF, so f/16 is out of the question.
 
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Much2learn

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I was playing around with it today taking pictures of my model against a bright sky. Using manual mode, I'd spot meter at the sky, which was giving me 1/3200 at f1.4 but my poor long suffering model (the dog) would be totally dark. So, I added my speedlight, but this resulted in complete overexposure of the background but a very pretty puppy. I noticed that when the speedlight was added, my camera won't let me set the shutterspeed to more than 1/200. I have been doing a little bit of research and I believe that my camera does not have auto FP highspeed sync which is why I can't get above 1/200 (these are all completely new words that I just learned today!)

I'll look into the ND filters.

Many Thanks!
 

MReid

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Does your camera have a focal plane setting for the flash?
Then you can use whatever shutter speed/f-stop you want.
Use spot focus on the face ttl-bl flash.
Adjust exposure as necessary and or flash power.

You could always lose the flash and let the background blow out and expose for the face with natural light.
 

analog.universe

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1/3200 is 4 stops darker than 1/200, so a 4-stop ND would do the job you want in this situation.

(1/200) * 2 * 2 * 2 * 2 = 1/3200
 

Raian-san

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Yeah like people said, you do need ND Filter. B+W is one of the top filter company but it's quite expensive. Hoya Multi Coated is around half the price, I have it and I think it's fine.

When you put the flash on your camera shoe, some camera has a max speed sync Most camera is 1/250...Looks like yours is 1/200. You have to raise your aperture to compensate for not having ND filter and then you'll be fine.
 

KmH

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A ND filter blocks the strobed light too, so little if anything is really gained by using one.

Auto-FP sync mode is a capability the D5000 doesn't have.
 

Dominantly

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Auto-FP sync also saps flash power, so while you can shoot over 1/250 with it, you are greatly reducing your flashes output power.

If you cant go higher than 1/200, you want a larger aperture, and don't want an over exposed background, you are going to have to go with a ND filter and more flash power.
 

analog.universe

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A ND filter blocks the strobed light too, so little if anything is really gained by using one.

That's right, I forgot every flash ever made only fires at a single non-adjustable power level...
 

djacobox372

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Unfortunately the d5000 doesnt have auto fp, which would allow u to use higher shutter speeds. All u can do is turn your iso down all the way and use the smallest aperture you can get away with... If thats not enough a nd filter is your next step. Just make sure to buy a quality filter or your images will be degraded. Look for filters made in germany (best) or japan (second best).
 

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