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Old Sep 20, 2005, 3:02 PM   #51
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Here is a photo showing the flash body setup with the body turned toward the flash from the digital camera's built in flash to insure reliable triggering.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Oct 1, 2005, 8:41 PM   #52
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Hello Joyce. I am jumping into the conversation almost two weeks after the last post, so I hope I'm not too out of the loop! I've read every thread. I have a nikon coolpix 8700 and hate using the flash!! I hate it so much that I take very few indoor pictures and when I'm indoors I try not to use the flash...I can get away with this in a well lit room if I can be close to my subject, not always possible in my daughter's ballet class so I end up with a lot of blurry/grainy shots...I think getting a tripod to help control camera shake will help some, but I guess I need to conquer my flash fear. I like you can not stand the fasle light and harsh shadows. Most of my daughters ballet class photos end up becoming digital art so I can hide the ugly flash look

My great dislike of flash can be very limiting when it comes to photography. It has not affected me too much because I tend to take candids and nature shots, but I'm getting a lot more requests for portrait work, so I'm needing to learn more about manipulating natural light and using flash. My greatest wish is to duplicate sunlight.

I've had the nikon 8700 for just over a year and I know that I'm probably not pushing it to it's greatest pottential. I do have a hot shoe mount on it. Are you saying that I don't have to get a flash for this mount. Am I also understanding that I can use more than one slave? One with the camera and one behind my subject? I'm also looking into continueous lighting for portrait work...what would be the benifit of the slave over this method?

Thanks for your help!
Phaedra Wilkinson
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Old Oct 2, 2005, 6:05 AM   #53
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I must butt in here. The use of the lowly "," is very useful. When you say "I like you " , leaving out the comma will have people talking, it should be I, like you. the name JOYCE is the surname . Using it will stop Sarah liking you. Seriously tho, have you tried a mini soft box or a mini reflector? These will soften the light.
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Old Oct 2, 2005, 10:45 AM   #54
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Phaedra,

Since your camera has a hotshoe it is best to use it. The only reasons to use a flash in slave mode are either (1) If your camera does not have a hotshoe or PC connector -or- (2) If your camera's hotshoe or PC connector are occupied, because you are using multiple flash units. Additionally, if you purchase a Nikon flash unit (I hear the SB-28 is good) it will communicate with the camera, giving you added functions that standard flashes don't have and relieving you of the need to manipulate settings on the flash unit very often.

With regards to harsh shadows, the best way is to eliminate them not wash them out. You don't want a second flash behind your subject unless you have a backdrop that needs to be lit. The best way to eliminate the shadows is by bouncing the flash off the ceiling. Most quality external flashes have heads that can tilt up. When the flash bounces off the ceiling it results in a soft, even light -- as if you took the picture without flash in a very well lit room. Of course, this only works with low ceilings. If you have a high ceiling such as in an auditorium, your best chance is to get a flash reflector. It is simply a piece of white plastic which attaches to your flash unit and spreads out the light. The same shadows will exist, but they will be softer. Do a google image search for "flash bounce reflector" to get the idea what to look for.

In portrait work, slave flashes are great. Since you're in a controlled environment you don't have to worry about other cameras setting off your flash units, and it means you don't need to wire all of the flashes together. You will most likely want studio strobes. Each strobe would have an umbrella or softbox attached to diffuse light. You'll need a backdrop stand, backdrop(s), lights to light the backdrop, lights to light the subject, possibly a hair light. I can't afford all of that yet, so I use 3 flashes - 1 directly on the backdrop, 1 bounced off the ceiling to provide soft even light, and 1 on the camera set to low power, to remove facial shadows and create a catchlight.

-Sean
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Old Oct 2, 2005, 10:54 AM   #55
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Thank you, geriatric, for the grammar corrections. I do know how to use commas, but when my mind is running 100 miles and hour and my fingers are trying to keep up typos happen.

I appologize for using your surname Sarah, in this 100 mile an hour typing session my mind grabbed the wrong name

I now know why I hesitate before posting on boards. My first post was my first posting on this board by the way.

I do love the look that the softbox creates, geriatric. Can I getaway with using all softboxes? These would probably be great indoors, but how about outdoors? My outdoor shooting style is very candid so it would probably be hard to work with freestanding lights outdoors. I do have a lot to learn about lighting.

Phaedra
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Old Oct 2, 2005, 11:06 AM   #56
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Thank you Sean for all the info! So the key is to spread the light out so it is not directly on the person. As for the slave guess I thought the discussion was about using a slave instead of using a flash on your hotshoe. Or was it about using the flash on your hotshoe AND a slave? I will have to see how much distance I can get from the flash you suggested. Let's say that my flash can reach twenty feet and I'm about 10 feet from the girls in ballet class...would I still need to bounce the flash or would I be far enough away from them that the flash would spread more evenly? I know the harshed flash glare and shadow is when you are closest to the subject.

Sarah, I meant to ask you how you managed to keep the soft stage lit feel to the shots that you shared. My husband and brothers are in a band and I fight constantly with trying to get the right feel to the shots I take when they are on stage. If there are plenty of stage lights I can sometimes manage to set my shutter and apeture speeds so that I can go flashless, but most of the time I just can not get away without a flash, then I end up with images with that fake light look and you can't see the reds, blues and greens of the stage lights.

Thanks again everyone!
Phaedra
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Old Oct 2, 2005, 11:29 AM   #57
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If you look about 2/3 down the first page where Sarah posted a picture of her setup, you'll see that her camera doesn't have a hotshoe, so she is using a handle/bracket which attaches to the camera's tripod socket and provides a cold shoe for the flash to sit in. If her camera had a hotshoe, she would not have to use the flash in slave mode, rather simply affix it directly to the camera.

Always bounce the flash if possible since the light will be *much* better looking. Distance does soften shadows and glare, but not enough to negate the need for some type of diffuser. Back before I had external flashes I simply held an index card in front of the camera's on-board flash to bounce it off the ceiling. You should be able to do that yourself to get a feel for what to expect. With bouncing though, keep in mind a lot of light will be absorbed by the room itself so your flash's effective distance is significantly reduced.

I don't mean to answer for Sarah, so I'll keep this part brief. The duration of a flash is about 1/1000th of a second. So if you use a shutter speed much slower than that such as 1/30th of a second or slower, the flash will freeze the action so your subject is sharp yet the shutter will be open long enough to record ambiant things such as effects lighting, or the glow of a fire, etc. Getting the right balance takes a little trial and error and is different every time.

-Sean
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Old Oct 2, 2005, 12:22 PM   #58
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Thanks again Sean! Looks like I just need to get a flash for my hotshoe and start practicing. I guess I like Sarah's solution because it is affordable. I did some pricing of flashes for my nikon coolpix 8700 once and I apparently can't just buy the flash, I have to get an adaptor too I think. Looks like I have some research to do.

Thanks!!
Phaedra
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Old Oct 2, 2005, 1:17 PM   #59
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No problem, glad I can help =)

Let me clear up the kinds of flashes there are to make it easier to choose one:

1. Simple 3rd party - Like Sarah's, a basic automatic flash. They are usually not very powerful, and many do not have tiltable heads (allowing you to bounce) but some do. Average cost: $50 or less.

2. Advanced 3rd party - More known names like Metz, Promaster, Vivitar, Sigma, etc. They offer more functions (such as heads that can tilt and rotate, built-in diffusers, the ability to adjust flash power, the ability to "zoom" the flash and focus the light so it isn't wasted outside the picture if you're zoomed in.)Many of them also offer camera-specific advanced functions (such as through-the-lens metering and automatic relaying of camera settings to the flash such as aperture and ISO so you don't have to dial them in) but these usually require an extra adapter. Cost: $100-$200 for the flash, $75 for an adapter to get the really advancedstuff.

3. Proprietary brand name - In your case, Nikon. Nikon flashes are known for being really good and will give you all the special options above. Unfortunately they're pretty expensive, $200-$300.

My personal recommendation for you is the Sigma EF-500. If you search the forums you'll find it has a reputation for being a really good value. It has a guide number of 165 (feet) making it much more powerful than almost any flash in the #1 category and most in the #2 category for that matter, and supports all the bells and whistles I listed and then some, without the need to buy any adapters. The extra features will give you room to grow into it as your use of flash lighting becomes more advanced. Your level of dedication indicates to me that you wouldn't be happy with the limited flexibility of a cheap flash. The unit I'm referring to can be had on eBay for $105 brand new. See herefor the eBay auction and here for a detailed review, a good read even if you aren't interested in the flash itself. There is also the "super" version of it which costs $65 more (here) but has a backlit LCD screen, more control, more features. If it were me, I would get the super, but I'm a gadget freak and like the control and LCD screen. I don't think those features would be necessary for a lot of people. If you get either one make sure you get the one designed for Nikon cameras since they also make versions for Canon, Pentax, and Sigma. (unfortunately not Olympus or I would have bought at least 2 by now )

-Sean
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Old Oct 2, 2005, 8:02 PM   #60
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Thanks again Sean! It sounds like that's the way I should go. I'll be putting my children to bed soon, then I'll take a look at that review! Now to start saving money for it! I'll be setting up my smugmug account soon and will be having my first photo session for a senior in high school. I also have some balances in my stock sites...so hopefully I can go flash shopping by the first of the year! I've given my husband a hard time about how much money we put into his music hobby, it looks like I'm getting ready to have no room to complain

Phaedra
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