Welcome to my camera bag, Nikon SB-700!

For almost two years I have been using flash ONLY when ABSOLUTELY necessary. Not because I don’t like flash or think it is something to be feared, but because my SB-600 had met an untimely end on a concrete floor during a shoot. I had an old film flash, but I had to use it only in manual as it was not compatible with the digital camera bodies. It was so powerful that I found it really hard to control the light and give me the reliable fill that I had grown to love with the SB-600. Also, I had my studio lights for the big jobs, so I could make do. This past weekend though saw two shoots where I knew I was going to need my old friend, Easy Phill, (don’t look at me like you don’t name your photography gear as well) and so I set out to find a replacement.

I was ready.

It had been long enough.

After researching rentals and buying overseas, I happened on a great deal for a (hardly) used SB-700 through Camera Exchange here in Melbourne. I am instantly in love again… with Phyll.
When I posted about it on Instagram, I was surprised to see so many people want to see the shots and know how I use the flash out in the mid-day sun. I love the flash for this type of shooting as it is easy to reduce those harsh shadows and get a nice balanced exposure. Is it something I would use every time I do a session? No, but it is glorious to have the option.  As I have said many times before…I love using any light that is available to me. I am that kind of available light photographer.

Above are two shots without any Photoshop work done to them. They are just outtakes from a shoot I did on Sunday for an upcoming blog post. I processed them from RAW to JPEG and that is it. They did not even need much of anything in the Capture NX2 program besides a bit of white balance fine tuning. I think the flash just gives it the extra bit of light I needed without too much of that “flash” look. My trick in this midday full sun situation is to get the exposure of the background first (hand held Sekonic meter for that), setting my camera manually for that reading and then letting the flash sort out the math of the output with TTL setting. I knew that I could shoot at the faster shutter speeds (the D3 will sync flash up to 1/250sec) and still record the ambient light as there was (obviously) and abundance of it so I set my exposure with shutter speed as the main deciding factor. Really, for me, using flash is about convenience without changing my style. I don’t always do the direct flash outside, but that is what I did for these. I am happy to answer any specific questions. Look for the rest of the images on here next week!

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  • Anna Munro via Facebook - yay flashMay 1, 2012 – 6:06 pmReplyCancel

  • Rachael Michelle Brown via Facebook - I am more scared than I should be of mine – these may inspire me to not be such a wimp…….gorgeous shots!May 1, 2012 – 6:10 pmReplyCancel

  • KoolEd - Thanks for sharing! Very insightful and inspirational!May 1, 2012 – 7:07 pmReplyCancel

  • valentina mantovani - wow Rachel! i love how you use the sb-700 here in this pics..look so beautiful and naturally
    i’m so curious to see more photos taken by flash by you

    Have a great dayMay 1, 2012 – 7:24 pmReplyCancel

  • CSA - Come on did you really use flash in these two!!! they are so brilliant and natural!!! WOWMay 1, 2012 – 8:23 pmReplyCancel

  • Jessica - Did you point it directly at them or use a bounce card?May 1, 2012 – 9:11 pmReplyCancel

    • sesame - These had the flash pointed directly at the subject…May 1, 2012 – 9:46 pmReplyCancel

  • Rebecca W - Thank you for the wonderful tips in midday sun photography, using flash (something I struggle with!). 🙂May 1, 2012 – 9:28 pmReplyCancel

  • Amanda - I think a lot of ‘togs who think flash is a dirty word just don’t understand it can be used in a subtle way. I see many lovely portraits that would be SO much better with a little fill flash.
    Did you use an umbrella for these or bare flash?May 1, 2012 – 10:11 pmReplyCancel

    • Amanda - oops, sorry. I see you already answered the bare flash question. that’s what I get for commenting pre-coffee 🙂
      these are lovely btw! I want summer, stat.May 1, 2012 – 10:16 pmReplyCancel

  • Vanessa Little via Facebook - Awesome! Thanks, very helpful :o)May 1, 2012 – 11:57 pmReplyCancel

  • Nancy Doud via Facebook - I love my flash and as a wedding photog I couldn’t be without it. I never would have said that a few years ago!May 2, 2012 – 12:19 amReplyCancel

  • Stacie Davis - Hi Rachel, I have a SB-600 and almost never use it. Unlike you, I AM intimidated because I think I have this idea that learning flash involves math, which I hate. I would LOVE some links to learning about simple, how to get started uses of just your camera and a flash. Do I need to buy a light meter? If so I’d love some suggestions as to what kind. Not a pro, not a fauxtog, just love portraits. Thank you in advance. Love, LOVE, your work and your willingness to help those of us wanting to learn how to step away from auto. I finally made this transition and am amazed at how much my portraits have improved, but I am missing a key piece – lighting/flash. Please help me not be a flash virgin anymore! LOLMay 2, 2012 – 12:40 amReplyCancel

  • Stacie Davis via Facebook - Would love some links to good SIMPLE articles about using an off camera flash (on or off camera). Do you have to get a light meter before starting to learn? Thank you!May 2, 2012 – 12:41 amReplyCancel

  • Erica Bartel via Facebook - And Nikon has a commander mode which allows off camera flash without a pocket wizard. Oh the joys of controlling the light!May 2, 2012 – 1:55 amReplyCancel

  • Patrina Walters Odette via Facebook - Thank you so much for the post, Rachel. It was very helpful, and one of your followers asked the question I was thinking of, which is where did you point the flash, and you answered it. Thanks for taking the time to post, explain, and teach. I appreciate it so much!May 2, 2012 – 5:26 amReplyCancel

  • Aimee - I love my SB-600. I can see how the flash fills in especially on the second shot. Never really thought to bring my flash to the beach but I’ll give it a try this summer.May 2, 2012 – 6:43 amReplyCancel