600EX-RT in Gr mode

I really like how easy it is to setup and use 600EX-RTs for head shots.

I have a collection of umbrella frame soft boxes which are a great tool for packing light, and getting large soft light on a subject.

I got a call recently for a head shot, the young man needed it for web use, basically a quick business head shot.

It took about 5 minutes to setup the background, a 5×7 snap frame white panel that is held up with a light stand that has a fitting at the top to hold the snap frame. A great tool for this kind of situation. Then three nano stands, one with a Buff mini-boom arm, umbrella adapter, and holder to mount the flash tube close to the umbrella frame center post. The other two with cold shoe umbrella adapters to hold the 600EX-RTs.  Set each 600 EX into a separate Gr so I could control output. Mounted 9″ snap frame soft boxes to two lights as kickers one on each side aimed at the subject. Main was a 90cm umbrella frame soft box and fill was a 60cm umbrella frame soft box.



The benefit Gr mode offers is remote control of each group from the camera. In this instance I was able to set the Main (GrA) to 0 Flash Exposure Compensation (FEC). That saved me having to take the time to meter the light output. I just set the camera to ISO 200, 1/160 shutter and F9.0. Aperture was my main setting, since I wanted to get his face in focus as well tip of nose and ear. This close with a 90mm lens that requires a smaller aperture. Shutter speed was high enough to eliminate the ambient as a factor. Since the two kickers were relatively close and small sources, I knew they were going to be hot. I set them in Gr C and set that to manual so I could dial the power way down. Well below the -3FEV available. zi think they ended up at 1/32 power.

This same setup could have been done using all the speedlites in M mode. In my opinion that adds a step that takes time. i.e. reading and adjusting the lights. Using ETTL for the main meant I would be close on the first shot. The subject and background were reasonably close to mid-tone so I didn’t have to worry about compensating for a darker or lighter bias to get the ETTL reading centered. One nice thing about Canon’s FEC with the 600EX-RT is that its additive. So, I can set a ratio in Gr mode using FEC and then make adjustments for overall exposure with camera FEC. For example, if the first shot is too dark, I can tap the button and dial in 1EV FEC and

I went back and looked at the images from the session. The client picked this one for use, and it turns out to be the second image I shot. Some images later in the session I dialed down the kickers and others I swapped the main to the other side for more broad lighting. Time stamp from first image to last was 11 minutes. 3 or 4 different lighting setups in terms of power, and main moved from side-to-side.

Here’s the lighting diagram;




In other situations I’ll add a fill light. It goes in group B and starts with -1 FEC. That gives a 1:3 light ratio for main to fill which works well in most situations.

The translucent white 5×7 snap background permits adding a light behind it to create white. With the 600EX-RT in Gr mode its easy to adjust power for just the right balance between white background and subject without flare.