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Old Sep 7, 2006, 11:57 PM   #1
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I have been struggling with lighting on my macro shots. I'm using a Sunpak 433D with an Omnibounce diffuser. I can never seem to get good, even, soft light with it like I see in a lot of others photos here. It's usually either too dark or too harsh, always requiring some pretty intense PP. This tends to bring out the noise in the photos.

Would I do much better to get a bracket and move the flash off of the top of the camera, or would rigging up some sort of bounce card be better for softening and evening out the lighting? Maybe a combination of both?

I'm leaning towards some sort of bracket. I'm thinking that one might also serve double duty in helping to steady my shots.

Any suggestions?
Thanks

- Mick
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Old Sep 8, 2006, 12:43 AM   #2
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Try a small softbox and use it off camera. The LumiQuest diffuser is perhaps too small in terms of area for very soft and diffuse light. Sometimes, you may also buy a small diffuse screen and hold it close to your subject (rather than close to your flash).

CK
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Old Sep 8, 2006, 11:24 AM   #3
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First of all use your external Flash with a synchro cable (not on the FZ hot shoe).

See if the flash has manual controls.
At small apertures (F8 - F11) you might have overexposed/burnt shots if you use the flash at its full power (longer flash duration, around 1/1000 sec).
Set the flash to average or very fast flash duration 1/20.000 sec. so that you can use it also very close to the subject and with a simple diffusing bristle paper.
To block more light you can use the white paper which generally comes in many biscuits boxes (with a wave-like inner layer of paper).

Bouncing is generally considered better than diffusing: do it by setting a white paper on the flash with its head turned upwards.
For more diffusion you can use silver paper (aluminium kitchen sheets for aliment) and for more bouncing (more distant flash) crumple it before setting it on a paper in front or above the flash.

Holding the ext. flash while you keep the camera is for very though arms, and always becomes a hard effort after some time (with increase of trembling and shaking).
Buy a cheap staff/bracket (less than 15€/$) with a flash slot on one edge (it can have the hot shoe or not. If it has not you have to buy a separate hot shoe adapter to set it on your camera hot shoe and connect it withthe ext. flash via its synchro cable - for FZ cams do not have the synchro cable connection entrance).
Now you have a solid unit, made by camera (and its heavy diopters or reversed lenses) and the flash.
You can also hold the flash (+ diffuser or bouncer) in your left hand (thus in an upper position than having it on the bracket - to simulate light coming from above the subject) while the left arm blocks the bracket. But it's important that the whole structure is unitary or you risk to have micro moved image by the shaking of your right hand and/or ghost images by the shaking of flash.

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Old Sep 8, 2006, 12:47 PM   #4
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I think Narmer has mentioned most of the points.

As your flash has manual inputs, you can play with that. With the omnibounce, the problem is that the flash power is redirected to your flash sensor, and hence causing it to fire less. The Auto sensor on the flash reads the reflected light from the flash and tells the flash to cut off the discharge. I do notice on my old flash that with the diffuser, my flash always fires less.

So switch the flash to full manual, or if no such function, tape up the flash sensor with black tape. The flash would fire full always....good thing is that you can control the power.

So use a fix apeture F8 or higher F11, and shoot. If in M mode, you can either adjust the shutter speed to control the exposure or adjust the flash power.

Hope this helps.
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Old Sep 8, 2006, 1:24 PM   #5
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Thanks for the tips, Narmer and Tchuayne.

I'm going to do so research on brackets for the flash, and look at coming up with something simple to try bouncing the flash in place of diffusing and see how that works for me.

The flash has full manual controls. I've tried all sorts of different settings with it, but was never really clear on how to correlate the flash power with aperture setting and distance to subject. I don't want to do math, I just want to take pictures. :lol:
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Old Sep 8, 2006, 4:17 PM   #6
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RedStickMan wrote:
Quote:
The flash has full manual controls. I've tried all sorts of different settings with it, but was never really clear on how to correlate the flash power with aperture setting and distance to subject. I don't want to do math, I just want to take pictures. :lol:
Depending on the expected softness of light, you may either use bounce or diffuse. Both are based on one simple fact: a large area light sources can produce softer illumination and shadows. Bounce is usually a little harder and can have hot areas; but, bounced light can reacher farther subjects. On the other hand, diffuse (e.g., softbox) light has the bounce done internally in the box, and by the time the light exiting the diffuse screen it is diffused to some degree. As a result, illumination and shadow would be softer than bounce due to the extra step (i.e., diffuse screen on a softbox). If is your choice based on what you need. If you can accept harder light and some hot areas, go wit bounce; if you prefer soft and nearly shadow less images, go with a small or micro softbox. I used both for my macro shoots successfully.

Any light modification equipment will cause some light loss. There is an easy way to figure out how much it is. Set your camera to use the sync shutter speed (usually un-necessary), and both the camera and flash (with light modification equipment on) to use the same aperture, preferably a middle one, say f/5.6. Take a shot of something that does not need exposure compensation (e.g., large grey card or grey screen). Then, change the flash aperture (not the camera one) in 1/2 stop or 1 stop increment, and take a picture. Examine the result and pick the best result. If the best result has the flash aperture at f/8, it means your light modification caused 1 stop light loss. Next time, when you use the light modification equipment, you may just increase the flash aperture by one stop. If your flash has flash exposure compensation, you just set +1 stop compensation.

Just keep in mind that aperture on a lens means the opening that limits the amount of light allowed to enter the system. On the other hand, aperture on a flash means the power the flash must sent out in order to illuminate the scene. Thus, f/11 means the flash must send a burst that is good enough for f/11. Thus, the power for f/11 is twice of f/8, and 50% of that of the f/16.

If you don't do math, you have to use TTL flash mode. As long as your camera can do it, you will be OK. But, TTL flash in close up can fail frequently. This is especially true if you have light modification equipment of your flash.

CK

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Old Sep 8, 2006, 10:04 PM   #7
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Well here is my far less technical method. Set your camera in manual mode andset the aperture to F11 and your shutter to 1/250th. Set your flashto manual with the Omni-bounce in place then set the power to 1/16. Now takea pictureof a non-moving subject like leaves orflowers,the subject isn't that important just as long as you can repeat the shot a few times.Now review your photo if you don't have enough light then increase thepower on the flash and try again. If it is overexposedtry adjusting the shutter speed and if that doesnt work try diffusing the flash even more. I have gone as far as putting a Fuji Film container and some thin white foam paddding inside the Omni-bounce to have more control over the lighting. Don't forget you can also use ND filters or even circ. polarizers. I have been using A polarizer on most of my recent shots, it works really well when photographing the wings of flies. Keep trying until the results are close to what you are looking for. Then you can fine tune the shutter speeds. Eventually you will find a range of shutter speeds, and alevel of diffusion that works for you.Don't be afraid to experiment the film is free.
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