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07-14-2009, 01:20 PM   #1
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DESPARATE for Flash-101 Help!

I originally posted a similar question in the “Accessories” Forum, but this could not be more of a “Beginner’s” Question, so here I am again. I have the AF360 Flash with my K10 … Flash is SUCH a mystery to me. I literally do not know how to use this thing, other than to turn it on and set the exposure up 1 stop, or down 3 stops.

I turn it on, it’s in P-TTL mode (which I learned from the manual seems to be fine) .. and the “mm” display seems to have a mind of it’s own. I have no idea what it’s for, or why it always blinks at me, or why it makes a grinding noise sometimes.

Would someone please, PLEASE help me, point me to some beginner’s flash resources, Pentax AF-360 specific if possible? (VIDEOS ARE GREAT!) The manual is not a learning tool for someone who has never used flash.

Someone suggested this thread: VIDEO , but it’s more for how to use it wireless. I need to use it on the camera, first.

Desperately yours,
Lori

07-14-2009, 02:12 PM   #2
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Hi Lori.
Happy to be 'desperately yours'!
Look, flash photography is quite an involved topic, and it would be best to do some reading on it from resources like http://www.photo101podcast.com/phone/lesson25.mp4, Flash Photography Made Simple, How to use flash photography | Wonder How To, FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY 101 – A BEGINNER’S GUIDE - Canon Digital Photography Forums (but *beware*, it's from a Canon forum...), etc.

But to answer your specific questions, the "mm" displays the 'focus' of light emitted by the flash according to the focal length of the zoom. With a zoom lens attached, this is adjusted automatically by the flash in the auto modes. When it does change, it makes that 'grinding' noise you hear, so don't be put off by that.

The AF360 is a great flash unit for trying bounce flash photography, and keeping it in P-TTL mode is a good start to try this. But more articles on this topic would help you understand how this all works and why it's usually better than axial (front-on) flash photography: YouTube - Bounce Flash Photography, Bounced Flash Photography - The Ins and Outs, http://www.planetneil.com/tangents/flash-photography-techniques/4-bouncing-flash/ (a great resource), Lighting tip - 4 ways to bounce a flash | DIYPhotography.net, and so on...

All the best in this, and keep practicing!
07-14-2009, 08:36 PM   #3
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Thanks for the info and the original question. I've been looking for something like this myself.
07-15-2009, 09:28 AM   #4
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Whoa, this is exactly what I was looking for! Resources, good resources! Note to the forum administrators .. this would make a good sticky!

07-16-2009, 12:21 PM   #5
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Basically, with flash, the FLASH exposure is solely determined by flash power (actually duration, how long the bulb is actually firing for), aperture and ISO. Ambient exposure is determined by ISO, shutter speed, and aperture (just like without any flash), so the trick is balancing the two. If I'm indoors in a smallish room (such as in someone's house), I usually just forget about ambient since the flash is powerful enough to light up the entire room (hence the 1/180s below, if the flash didn't fire, I'd have a more or less black picture) Now although you're shooting MANUAL Mode, that's only for the ambient exposure (the exposure needle in the viewfinder will blink warning you about underexposure, but ignore that). The camera's P-TTL metering will determine the needed flash output for a proper exposure.

Here's something I wrote on another forum -
"Easy" recipe for great P-TTL flash shots -
1)Point flash at ceiling
2)Put camera in MANUAL mode on the mode dial
3)Set FEC to +1 on the flash head

4)Shoot RAW (this allows you to recover some highlights that might get blown as a result of #3 above)

5)Set ISO to 200 (to start)
6)Set shutter speed to 1/180s
7)Set f-stop to whatever DOF you want


Now if the flash runs out of "power" because of high ceilings, you can raise the ISO or open up the f-stop to compensate. Or you can slow down the shutter to bring more ambient light into the exposure (in addition to adjusting ISO/f-stop) If the ceiling is REALLY high (like in a church), you may need a reflector to throw some of the light forward (I use the Joe Demb Flip-it).
07-16-2009, 12:22 PM   #6
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Quick and dirty outdoor fill flash tutorial -
Basically, if your subject is in shade and the background is bright (ie under a tree) or majorly backlit, fill flash is your friend. Think of those times when you got a properly exposed background, but the subject was almost pitch black.

Put camera into Av mode, metering will set the shutter speed to expose the overall shot (which in the situations that call for fill-flash will generally be the background) based on your selected aperture/ISO.
Make sure flash is set to HSS (in case your shutter speed go faster than 1/180s) and P-TTL. Fire away! The shutter speed/f-stop/ISO will expose the background, and the flash should output enough power to light up the foreground.

Now to control the background exposure, you use exposure compensation on the camera body (which would adjust the shutter speed), to adjust how much fill for the flash exposure, you use Flash exposure compensation. The trick is balancing the two (as it is with indoor work), and that comes with experience/experimentation.
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