For this convention, I was pretty limited with the DSLR gear I had on hand. I’m still trying to sell off some of my Pentax lenses, so that cash is tied up until it happens. I do have a few Nikon lenses on order from KEH, but that will probably be a few days until they arrive. Being challenged is part of the fun, so I didn’t have any qualms going into a convention like this.
- Nikon D7000
- Nikon 50mm f1.8g (crop makes it similar to 85mm focal length)
- Yongnuo RF603 flash triggers
- Yongnuo YN 460-II flash
- Impact flash diffuser (compression fit with white fabric on 3 sides and one side that has a silver reflector)
This was my first time attempting complete manual control with manual flash in a hallway cosplay setting (eg. taking photos of cosplayers I randomly meet). The biggest issue was managing necessary changes for almost every single photo I took. Although, some areas like the dealers room and gaming room were evenly lit and allowed me to set the camera once while I was in there.
This was also my first time using the D7000 camera body in more than a casual way. I had practiced taking photos of cats and trees/bushes outside a number of times to try and get a feel for the camera. It’s a decent way of building muscle memory for button placements and I think it paid off.
How I setup and used the camera:
U1 custom setting mode:
Full manual control (set to ISO 100, f2.8, 1/180th, matrix metering, exposure compensation to -1, raw+jpeg, locked center point AF)
U2 custom setting mode:
Aperture priority (set to ISO Auto, f2.5, -0.7 exposure compensation, raw+jpeg, locked center point AF, matrix metering, raw+jpeg)
The U1 setting was for when I used the wireless flash. The U2 setting was for general natural light photography. Each block of setting is a general starting point where I tweak it as needed to get what I’m looking for in a given location. The -1 EV compensation for U1 is used so that I can more easily see the exact exposure. With flash I’m always underexposing, so that -1 gets around the + or – 2 stops the meter shows. For example, if I see the meter shows the exposure at 0, that means it is actually -1 EV. I even prefer to have some negative exposure compensation with aperture priority (U2) because saving highlights is more important than spending a few minutes lightning up RAW files in post processing.,
Even with a diffuser on the YN460-II most of the time, the flash was pretty strong at its lowest setting. I had to be mindful of not pushing too much light at a subject. Most often I held the flash in my left hand and the camera in my right. This allows for around 2 feet of distance between the two. Though I lose the abilities of TTL, this setup is cheap and gives more natural lighting angles.
The flash and two RF triggers could cost as little as $70 online, which is a lot less than even the cheapest TTL/HSS capable 3rd party flash. Although I might pick up a TTL flash eventually, this worked well enough that I feel confident using it again in the future. My only gripe is it takes more time and a bit more prone to human error.
One nice thing about this camera over others I have used in the past is that the D7000 has dual SD card slots. It allows me to do various things for the purpose of backup or splitting photos and videos up. I decided to shoot in RAW + JPEG, but have the JPEGs pushed to the second card. This keeps my main card free of the JPEG files I’ll probably never use, but more importantly allows me to do image backup on the fly. The camera didn’t feel slow or hold me up at all, so I think this will be something I do most of the time for conventions. Having memory cards go bad isn’t unheard of. Having a medium or full sized JPEG backup is a great space efficient way to cover that one issue. If a card holding the RAWs went bad, I’d still be able to manage with a JPEG just fine. Losing an entire day or half-day worth of effort would not be fun…
Once again mixed lighting and white balance were issues. I had my rogue flash gels with me, but I didn’t use them. Mostly because the diffuser I have doesn’t really work with the gels because both make a compression fit on the flash. This will be something I work on.
The photo above demonstrates the issues with mixed lighting. The ambient light had a strong orange cast to it, and of course the flash light is naturally blue to resemble sun light. When I first tried editing the photo to make the background less orange, it results in a blue subject. Had I placed a CTO gel on the flash, I would have most likely made the light hitting the subject closer in color to ambient. Just throwing on a gel isn’t a simple fix. Making that change of flash color can cause more problems sometimes. I think in the future I will try my weakest CTO (color temperature orange) gel to see if that provides just enough color change to make the overall photo more equalized in most situations. Using a strong gel will just cause more problems than it is worth. I want a minimal but visible change.
That’s it for Kollision con photo talk. It was a fun convention and a good learning experience.