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Old Dec 17, 2004, 2:46 PM   #1
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For Christmas my siblings and our families will be gathering at my parents' home and I will be enlisted to take some portrait photos. My question is: will my bounce flash work effectively given a 2-story 'peaked' cedar ceiling. The 2-story part doesn't bother me. But will the angle make a difference? The shots will likely take place perpendicular to the peak (i.e. as I'm facing family members sitting on the couch the ceiling will rise from my right to my left) because that is the way their couch is arranged. So will I have any issues getting a good bounce? Will the cedar reduce it in any way? If I can't use the bounce - what is a good recommendation? I will be using a Canon Digital Rebel, 28-135 lense and a Sigma 500 DG super flash and tripod. This is more than likely the last year my 93 year old grandmother will be with us so I want to make sure things turn out as well as possible.

By the way, for the 'family shot' - 19 people I'll probably have 3 rows - one on floor, one on couch and one behind couch - I have been advised that a manual mode of 1/60 and highest f-stop I can get (hopefully f8 or better) is what I should be shooting at - and of course in RAW mode. I'll plan on taking some test shots if I can get there early to see how things turn out, but I want to make sure I'm not missing anything when I go.

Thanks for any help!!
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Old Dec 17, 2004, 7:05 PM   #2
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JohnG wrote:
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For Christmas my siblings and our families will be gathering at my parents' home and I will be enlisted to take some portrait photos. My question is: will my bounce flash work effectively given a 2-story 'peaked' cedar ceiling. The 2-story part doesn't bother me. But will the angle make a difference? The shots will likely take place perpendicular to the peak (i.e. as I'm facing family members sitting on the couch the ceiling will rise from my right to my left) because that is the way their couch is arranged. So will I have any issues getting a good bounce? Will the cedar reduce it in any way? If I can't use the bounce - what is a good recommendation? I will be using a Canon Digital Rebel, 28-135 lense and a Sigma 500 DG super flash and tripod. <snipage>
Thanks for any help!!
How high is the ceiling right where you will be setting up? The cedar will most likely absorb some of your light (plus give it a warmer tone).

Something I would try (off the top of my head)...since you are using a tripod (& if you have a PC sync cord), I would hold the flash over my head & facing more directly at the flat part of the ceiling. That should cast a more even light rather than having the flash firing at a surface that is trailing off to the left.
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Old Dec 27, 2004, 4:44 PM   #3
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the cedar will definatly be a problem as will the angle and distance of the bounce. your looking at the flash having to bounce off a 20ft ceiling and down 20 ft to your subject. a challenge even for my old metz potato masher. your probubly better to use a reflector card or light box of some sort, instead of trying an off the ceiling bounce. if you dont have these you can improvise something that will reflect and duct tape is handy to have around. any good reflective, white or lite neutral colored improvised reflector should work, always press your flash test button to check if your light was enough.
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Old Dec 28, 2004, 9:41 AM   #4
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Thank you both for your input. Drew, you were right - I couldn't get a good bounce off the ceiling. Unfortunately, I did not have time to make a reflector of some sort. So, sad to say I had to use a direct flash. The results were acceptable to my family but need work for next time. It's all part of the learning curve. I figure at this rate I may actually be able to take a decent photograph in 5 or so more years :-)
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Old Dec 31, 2004, 9:31 PM   #5
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The cedar could give a "red glow" to your pictures which could be corrected after the fact in photo software.

Usually, I just go manual on the flash and keep increasing the power of the flash until I get an exceptable result.

I would expect with a 20 foot high ceiling you'd need at least one quarter power to full power on your flash to get a good result.

On a low white ceiling I use 1/16th to 1/8th power on my flash with acceptable results, depending on how far away the person is.

I'm using a Guide No. 120 flash, 1/1000th of a second (flash syncro speed) wide open at F2.8.
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