Flash Exposure Compensation

Trick Photography And Special Effects

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Flash Exposure Compensation is much like Auto Exposure Compensation in that you can set compensation for exposure up to plus/minus two stops in 1/3-stop increments. A positive compensation increases the flash output and a negative compensation decreases the flash output. Flash Exposure Compensation can help reduce shadows in the background and balance unevenly lit scenes.

For the purpose of comparison, I have used the same simple image set up for figures 8.2 through 8.7 to illustrate how the flash and flash exposure modifications change the image. The scene is lit by a tungsten chandelier with diffuse window light coming in to camera right.


8.2 This image was taken without using a flash. Exposure: ISO 125, f/5.6, 1/3 sec., auto White Balance, using an EF 25-105mm, f/4L IS USM lens.

8.3 This image is lit by the onboard flash set to E-TTL with no exposure modification, the distracting background shadows are predictable. However, the flash cools down the strong yellow cast of the tungsten lighting.

A custom White Balance is the ticket to solve the colorcast, of course, but the combination of tungsten and flash light creates the warm appearance that I envisioned, as shown in figure 8.7 at the end of this chapter.

If you use an accessory Speedlite, you can set Flash Exposure Compensation either on the camera or on the Speedlite. However, the compensation that you set on the Speedlite overrides any compensation that you set on the 40D's Setup 2 (yellow) camera menu. If you set compensation on both the Speedlite and the camera, the Speedlite setting overrides what you set on the camera. So the take-away is to set compensation either on the Speedlite or on the camera, but not both. Unless you shoot with the Speedlite on multiple EOS camera bodies, I think setting compensation on the camera is handier simply because the camera's LCD is easier to see and change than it is on the Speedlite's display.

8.4 This image is lit with onboard flash exposure set to -1. The lowered flash exposure reduces the appearance of the background shadows, but the yellow cast of the tungsten light is evident again.

Flash Exposure Compensation can be combined with Exposure Compensation. If you're shooting a scene where one part of the scene is brightly lit and another part of the scene is much darker—for example an interior room with a view to the outdoors — then you can set Exposure Compensation to -1 and set the Flash Exposure Compensation to -1 to make the transition between the two differently lit areas more natural.

To set Flash Exposure Compensation for either the built-in flash or an accessory Speedlite, follow these steps:

1. Set the camera to a Creative Zone mode, and then press the ISO-Flash Compensation button above the LCD panel. The

Exposure Level indicator meter is activated.

2. Turn the Quick Control dial to the left to set negative compensation (lower flash output) or to the right to set positive flash output (increased flash output) in 1/3-stop increments. As you turn the Quick Control dial, a tick mark under the Exposure Level meter moves to indicate the amount of Flash Exposure Compensation. The Flash Exposure Compensation is displayed in the viewfinder and on the LCD panel when you press the Shutter button halfway. The Flash Exposure Compensation you set on the camera remains in effect until you change it.

To remove Flash Exposure Compensation, repeat these steps but in Step 2, move the tick mark on the Exposure Level meter back to the center point.

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