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Old Jul 14, 2009, 10:04 AM   #11
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Les-

One additional thought. A flash head diffuser, such as the Stofen, might prevent some flash back reflections off the shiny surfaces of those cars.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jul 14, 2009, 10:50 AM   #12
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OK, let's do a little review using our first photo as the subject of our discussion.

Camera Set-up: Use auto ISO and set the WB to flash.

Flash Set-up: In this case, I was using the Sigma EF-500 ST flash unit equipped to handle the PTTL protocol. A Pentax AF 360 or AF 540 will also work the same way. In the case of my Sigma flash, I just switched it on to the TTL position. the main issue here is this, we want the camera (in my case, the K-2000) to communicate with the flash being used so that the proper exposure takes place. That is the advantage of using a dedicated flash unit with TTL ( through the lens) capabilities.

You will not have to set the flash up manually by referring to the camera to subject distance, and then setting the correct aperture. Because the camera and flash unit communicate with each other, the camera "tells" the flash unit the the distance when it achieves focus, based on that distance, the flash unit decides what fraction of its flash power to utilize for the photo, and then instantly, when the flash unit fires, the camera analyzes the light in the photo environment and adjusts the ISO speed as required to get the proper exposure. But all that happens in the background, and it is all done automatically thanks to TTL technology, and you don't have to worry about it, like we had to do in the film age. So you are free to use your creative juices to get the photo that you really want.

What is the Light from the Flash Unit doing?
In our first photo we had the flash head pointed almost to the vertical position. The flash head was only tilted very slightly forward to spill just a small bit of light into our photo to even out the lighting in our photo.

So, please understand that the greatest percentage of the light required for the photo was going from the flash head directly up to our standard 8 foot ceiling and being reflected back into the photo environment from that ceiling. That effect is called bounce flash.

But here is the hooker, and you must be careful. Suppose the ceiling was 16 feet high, rather than the standard 8 foot ceiling, what would happen? Provided that the ceiling was white, the camera would increase the ISO setting to compensate for the smaller amount of reflected light from the flash unit. What does the color of the ceiling have to do with your photo? Actually the color of the ceiling makes a really BIG difference. That ceiling will act just like a filter over your lens. Naturally a light green ceiling is going to reflect back slightly green-ish light into your photo environment. If your subject is a person, that green-ish light might not be too falttering on his or her complexion. Based on the amount of green light reflected back into the photo, the person might even look somewhat sickly. Yes, you can make a WB correction in the post processing, but why not get it correct the first time. The rule of thumb is this: a white ceiling is perfect. It reflects back white, diffused light into your photo that is soft and very attractive light. By using bounce flash you overcome the harsh shadows and the harsh light that you would cast into your photo if the flash head had been pointed directly ahead. Those harsh shadows and harsh lighting are why most people shy away from using their flash for their photos.

It is for just that reason that you will often see professional photographers use reflective flash bounce umbrellas to get the correct light color for their photo, when the ceiling color is not really usable. So if you are doing a shoot and you will be using bounce flash, pay attention to the color of the ceiling when you set-up to do your shoot.

Your flash unit can provide very dependable lighting for your photos on a consistent basis. We just have to be creative in how we use that flash unit to our greatest advantage.

Having taught photography for years, I know that everyone does not "get" the material that we are covering 100%, so please feel free to ask questions, and we will handle the questions, right along with the material we are working on in the tutorial.

Please keep i mind that there are no dumb questions at all. In fact, when a question is asked and the answer given, that helps everyone taking part in the tutorial to understand more easily the material.

Well, that is enough for now. I hope that you are enjoying this and that it is an assist to each and everyone as well in perfecting your flash technique. Have a great day!

Sarah Joyce

Last edited by mtclimber; Jul 14, 2009 at 10:54 AM.
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Old Jul 14, 2009, 1:23 PM   #13
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It is for just that reason that you will often see professional photographers use reflective flash bounce umbrellas to get the correct light color for their photo, when the ceiling color is not really usable.
That's only one of the reasons. A strobe is much more powerful than a flashgun so when diffused you get much more coverage.

Also, it's about directionality of the light. Having light bounced off the ceiling isn't always going to provide the affect the photographer wants. A downside to bouncing off the ceiling is you can get some uneven light lower in the frame.

This last reason is why stofen and other systems direct you to use a 45 degree flash angle. It sends more light forward than a 75 degree angle.

Sarah is right about the ceiling color, but that's only part of the story.
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Old Jul 14, 2009, 1:25 PM   #14
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Les-

One additional thought. A flash head diffuser, such as the Stofen, might prevent some flash back reflections off the shiny surfaces of those cars.

Sarah Joyce
I almost bought a Gary Fong unit awhile ago....that's a good idea. I need to to look at this. Thanks, Les
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Old Jul 14, 2009, 2:58 PM   #15
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JohnG-

Your points are correct and well made. Because the audience for this tutorial is so diverse and most probably have highly varying degrees of experience, I just made the point that the color of the ceiling can make a measurable difference, and left the topic there. This still very early in this tutorial and I did not want people to be put off with a great deal of sideline detail. The tutorial is about simple flash techniques than can easily be adopted and used by the persons reading this tutorial.

Sarah Joyce

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Old Jul 14, 2009, 3:05 PM   #16
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Les-

My objection to Gary Fong's gear is that it is high priced and physically large. Yes, it works very well, but it is so large that you might not be able to take it along with you every time.

You can also find Light Sphere knockoffs on E-Bay for less money.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jul 14, 2009, 3:09 PM   #17
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Here is the next photo that we are going to take a look at as we move along. This is a photo of my always co-operative husband, taken with the Nikon D-5000 camera, equipped with the Nikon SB-800 flash unit.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jul 14, 2009, 3:35 PM   #18
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Here is a photo of the camera and flash unit exactly as it was used for the second sample photo. Note that in this case the flash head is tilted forward slightly more than last time to allow a bit more light to spill into the photo environment.

Note also that I used a Stofen flash diffuser this time on the flash head to spread out the light pattern from the flash a bit more. When you use a flash diffuser you spread the light nicely, but you also loose some flash output.

All in all I believe that the photo is typical family photo. The lens used was the Nikon 18-200mm lens. I used the zoom at about 155mm to give me some stand back room. Thus, I was about 15 feet away from Bradley when the photo was taken.

There several advantage that an external flash gives you:

(1) The Flash is farther away from the lens reducing the chance for flare and red eye problems.

(2) An external flash increases your effective flash range substantially. When using the camera's built-in flash your maximum effective flash range is just between 10 and 14 feet.

(3) With that extended flash range you can zero in on a more distant subject and still get the photo you wanted.

NOTE: This photo was taken with my K-2000 using the camera's built-in flash. You can see the shadows and you can see the increased harshness of the light coming from the flash in the straight ahead position. So my point here is that the quality and kind of light in this photo is visually different.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jul 14, 2009, 3:47 PM   #19
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Les-

My objection to Gary Fong's gear is that it is high priced and physically large. Yes, it works very well, but it is so large that you might not be able to take it along with you every time.

You can also find Light Sphere knockoffs on E-Bay for less money.

Sarah Joyce
It did seem high priced for what it is...I hesitated and didn't buy as a result...I'll look at others, like the one you suggested.
Les
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Old Jul 14, 2009, 6:25 PM   #20
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Hey Sara Joyce,
I read your tutorial last year and enjoyed it immensely. I glad you're revisiting it again.
Your poor hubby must be a pretty great guy to put up with you sometimes.
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