SB900 using the sun as a hairlight.
I have heard and get asked a lot of questions about Nikon’s CLS’ ability or inability to function in bright daytime conditions. In my experience it really have not been an issue. I pay attention to the speedlight’s position and its sensor location relative to my camera and SU800.
Today’s metering technology is a great asset so I normally let it take the first ‘shot‘ at what it sees in a scene. While I have studio lights and a Vagabond II, there is little I haven’t been able to do with my SBs. The above shot was taken with a single SB900.
It was very sunny in California the day I shot Candice – notice the shadow on the lower left of the umbrella even though the speedlight fired for this behind the scene picture.
In the photograph of Candice above I metered for the shaded portion of her face and let Nikon TTL do the rest.
In the event it does not produce the result I want I adjust the stop (by 1/3 steps) on the speedlight.
Distance is another concern CLS nay-sayers bring up.
In this photograph Jason is holding a 42 inch Wescott umbrella with a SB-800 tucked up in the open ribs point towarded the camera to get the light reflected back to his face.
Behind him is a SB-900 shooting into another 42 inch Wescott umbrella. That c-stand is a good 50 feet away and up the hill about 10-12 feet above Jason’s head.
Line of sight is important – so just pay attention. But I have used the SB8 & 900s behind glass, reflected the signal off of windows, mirrors, cars just about any reflective surface. I have also ‘staged’ the lights to ‘see’ another but not the SU800.
Think of the IR signal like a billiard ball.
I also use the Nikon CLS to fill on cloudy daylight sessions.
While in Phoenix last week I did the entire shoot with these tools:
Single SB900 camera left - TTL triggered with SU800.
The only time I have trouble with the system is when I position myself on the wrong side of the speedlight’s optical sensor or move in front of the flash. I use a ballhead so I can quickly rotate the speedlight into the correct position.