Using Canon’s E-TTL part2

Now that I have my 2 Speedlites talking to the transmitter STE-2, a field test is in order.

Max lit up when I brought out his toy. The flash output as you can see is too harsh. With a subject like Max, there's not much time to fine tune.

In case those of you who use Nikon are feeling left out, Nikon also has a similar transmitter, the SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander. It does the same exact thing but even better. You can control 3 groups of Speedlights compared to 2 for Canon’s STE-2..

Instead of a still life, flowers, a plant or bric-a-brac around the house I decided to try using my kittens as my subject.

Was I up to the challenge?

Not quite the picture I had in mind, but that's how it goes.

If you’ve ever photographed something jet black, you must know your camera’s meter is crying bloody murder.

If you fill the frame with your black object, the meter recommends that you let in more light because meters want to make everything 18% grey. (Let in more light to make black grey)

If you don’t fill the frame, black will look black. Exactly what you want. But some critical area of the object, in this case Max’s eyes, will have no detail whatsoever.

That’s why you need to light when shooting something black like this feline.

What complicates matters is this: Max has a white belly and chest.

Max is only my 2nd cat. I only found out there’s actually have a name for his coloration: Tuxedo cat.

In case you’re wondering why the name Max?

We were going to name him Bond, as in “James Bond.” But he is too goofy.

Maxwell Smart or Agent 86 from Get Smart seems more appropriate.

What I learned

E-TTL works well in certain situations, like when you’re indoors.

Infrared beams are able to bounce off walls indoors and so the receiving Speedlites are able to see signal.

If you’re outdoors, it’s too unpredictable since its range is dictated by line-of-sight. But more on that later.

Convenient Exposure Control

It is convenient when you have a subject that moves around as much as my cat, Max.

Can you imagine if I wanted a 2:1 ratio on Max with my Speedlites on Manual power?

I’d have to lure him into staying put then set my Speedlites in position then hope that he stays put.

Getting Max to face front was tough. Wish I had longer arms too when I was trying to shoot this.

With this setup, as long as I have my Speedlites pointed or aimed to light a general area, with both units able to see the transmitter, I’m in good shape. All I have to do is dial in the ratio I want whether it’s 2:1, 4:1 or 8:1.

In case those numbers sound scary, it isn’t.

2:1 means Speedlite A is putting out 1 stop more light than Speedlite B.

That means if if I set an aperture of f5.6 on my camera, Speedlite A is kicking in f8 amount of light, Speedlite B is kicking in f5.6.

On the other hand if I chose a 8:1 ratio, then Speedlite A is kicking in f16 amount of light, Speedlite B is kicking in f5.6.

What is appealing about this system is you can control the flash output right from camera position right there on your STE-2 transmitter without having to move the Speedlites.

Next: Part 3–High Shutterspeed Sync