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I will spend Sunday at Resist March in LA, shooting protesters and the event in general. Previously I have covered several meetings (including one in this question)

I just bought a used SB-600 flash for my Nikon to use with my D3 and 20-35mm f/2.8 lens. I've never shot with flash before. I did a couple of test shoots and one live meeting shoot to make sure I understand how flash works.

My question is how can I make sure that flash is actually useful and helping me produce good quality images: filling shadows, allowing for backgrounds not to be washed-out, etc?

My complete set of gear is D3, 20-35mm f/2.8, and flash on one shoulder and D600 with 80-200mm f/2.8 on the other shoulder. It seems to be rather bulky combination, and I don't carry a backpack/waist bag when shooting in the city.

  • BTW be careful, and protect your gear as protests​ aren't pleasant places. – Janardan S Jun 10 '17 at 9:35
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I shot numerous Occupy protests in the SF Bay area in 2011. I will tell you this: Once the rocks, teargas and rubber bullets start flying, it's too late to figure out what an f-stop is and how your flash works.

You only want to cover a protest using equipment that you are already thoroughly familiar with. You don't want to spend a microsecond thinking about your gear. You'll be too busy with situational awareness. Judging the vibe of the protesters and the cops, being aware at all times who's around you and what their attitude is toward you. During Occupy the protesters were generally neutral toward photographers. I hear they attack photographers and journalists now.

Bottom line you simply need to leave your flash home till you you can handle it instinctively and without any conscious thought. Protests are no place to be learning about your gear. You want 100% of your attention on what's happening around you.

  • Good advice, although it looks like this might not be a rocks and rubber bullets kind of event. But even the happiest of marches is a fluid situation where it's better to be shooting than figuring out how to shoot. – Caleb Jun 14 '17 at 3:35
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It is really easy to make a test shoot with a friend holding a piece of paper on sunlight. So go out and take a shot so you can see the results and the proper exposure.

I would not use the flash at full power for several reasons.

  • You just want some fill flash, not to win a beauty contest.

  • The recycle times will be faster, in some cases inmediate.

  • The battery will last longer.

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    Not to mention the fourth, more contextual reason: if you shoot people really close with direct flash at full power, you won't make friends among the protesters (nor the cops). – Arseni Mourzenko Jun 11 '17 at 16:11

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