While I began developing my videography skills with the filming and editing of family videos, as well as my annual motorcycle trips videos, I didn’t really focus on improving my photography skills until 2017, when I bought my a7rii and some quality, non-kit glass. I’ve decided that I don’t want to sell security software for the rest of my life and would like to transition into something around photography, videography, motorcycles, or some combination of those. Since the day I stepped up to a full-frame camera, I’ve worked hard on improving my portrait, landscape/cityscape, street scene, night time and 360 photosphere photography.
While there is always something to shoot close to home, interest is always peaked when you can take your camera somewhere new. Recently I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to Israel for my sales job, so I took my camera, knowing that there would be chances to take pictures in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Jaffa. What I didn’t realize was that I’d also get to see Nazareth, the Church of the Annunciation, the Church of St. Joseph, the house & church of St. Peter, Capernaum, the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River, the Dead Sea and Masada. Some of those can be found in my photo library on this site, while the full set are in my portfolio on 500px at https://500px.com/bhimagery. During my trip I learned a number of lessons; perhaps my experiences will be beneficial to you.
Know Your Flash
My previous camera was a Sony a6000, a sweet APS-C frame that was light and super easy to carry. The camera had a pop-up flash which could perform direct flash or simple bounces, using one’s finger to point the flash 45 degrees up. I also had a Sony HVLF20M that I purchased on Amazon. My a7rii has no built-in flash (thankfully) and the HVLF20M isn’t powerful enough save the simplest jobs, nor does it offer the flexibility in terms of intensity, rotation or the ability to use velcro strap-on lightboxes. I purchased the Godox TT350S, their small, full-feature flash. It supports TTL, master/slave and the ability to manually adjust the intensity. It also supports off-camera usage via the Godox X-1, multiple channel support and other terrific features. In short, there is a bevy of capabilities, depending upon the lighting situation.
Prior to my trip, I started reading the manual and watched a number of YouTube videos but really never figured out how to pair the channels, when to use TTL vs manual and other options. With flash photography not allowed in most historic antiquities, I forgot about figuring out how to use it as I’d be outside most of the time. When I went to Masada, the day was perfect and the ruins were well lit by the sun. When I entered the Commandant’s quarters, there was a hole in the wall that allowed light to flow in, while providing a perfectly framed shot of the Dead Sea. I increased my ISO to 400, then 800, then 1250, seeking to have the stone wall lit perfectly. However, by the time I had the proper ISO, the view of the Dead Sea was blown out.
By now, people behind me were waiting to look, yet there I was, camera bag on the floor, loading AAs into the flash. I was getting flustered, so I moved my things to the side and proceeded to let the 10 people queued up behind me take a look. After they left, I enabled TTL and fired off the shot, yet the wall was still too dark, thanks to metering saying that my focus point was bright enough to get my with minimal flash. I switched to manual mode and set the flash to 1/1, which was too bright. Meanwhile, a new group of people were waiting to take the same picture with their smart phones, all of whom tried using their LED flash to no avail. Eventually they left and I was able to get the shot accompanying this post. By the time I stowed my gear and walk out, my little tour group was nowhere to be found.
In conclusion, I was not prepared at all for this scenario. One learns from their mistakes or difficulties and I certainly did in this situation. This was definitely a RTFM situation and I will certainly now read it to better prepare myself for future situations such as this.