Quote Originally Posted by dmr View Post
Can auto mode be depended upon in a situation like this? Or should I use manual and do guide numbers? If I do guide numbers, should I try to adjust for the 360 degree coverage of the bulb?

Yes, I looked at TFM, and it didn't really say much about bare bulb mode except that you can do it.

Anybody shot a bare bulb unit in a similar situation?

Being unfamiliar with the Sunpak 120, I am assuming that you are talking about the strobe's auto mode and it's built in sensor.

My experience with Nikon speed lights is that auto does very well.

Make sure the settings on the strobe match the camera settings, if this is done the subject the strobe sees will expose properly. Bare bulb or not.

There are several wild cards that can bite you.

First the strobe's sensor is a "reflective" meter; if the main subject is a bunch of people in black it will over expose, all white dresses means under exposure. With a bit of practice you can manipulate the camera or strobe to compensate.

The other wild card is your ability to bounce.

I regularly bounce off of things behind me, if you can put a large reflector or two above and behind yourself it will help. Bigger the better.

Bounce and/or big reflectors will mitigate what many people call flash over exposure. What you are doing is simply "bringing up the house lights". A good share of the strobe's light is simply filling in the dark areas so that the properly exposed subject will be in a nice room rather than in a black pit.

One more tip, use the widest aperture that you can, this let's the real house light "help".