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Old Apr 12, 2015, 10:19 PM   #1
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Default I see the light!

For some reason flash has always been a mysterious language to me. It isn't as easy as sticking a flash on the hot-shoe and pushing the shutter. I'd read other people complaining about the sync speed, whatever that was, and it made no sense at all. For some reason I never could get what I expected to get, whether I had the flash on the camera or off it.

So this year I decided I would spend some time ignoring PTTL and trying to figure out manual flash. I started to read about it and a couple of things started to fall into place. I ended up getting some flash triggers, a second flash and started to read the Strobist's Lighting 101 blog.

One of the first things he suggests is to buy an umbrella and light stand. I did, played around with it and thought it was cool but a lot of bother. I still didn't "get it."

Yesterday I played around with my stuff, but without much of a goal or direction. It was interesting but I didn't figure out much, it was all sort-of hit or miss.

As I was putting away all my stuff this afternoon, I realized that I didn't have a clue as to what the difference was between shooting through a soft box and shooting through an umbrella. So up went my stuff again, put a flash on the light stand, the camera on the tripod and started shooting.

This is my subject without a flash, the light was coming through a north-facing double pane window, camera left, halfway across the room. I had the camera set to AWB, the bluish tint from the window is evident.



The bare flash - no light modifier on it. Flash is on the camera's right and set to provide pretty much all the light.



Here I put a LumiQuest soft box on the flash.



And finally I shot through a white umbrella. The extra size (the umbrella is huge compared to the soft box) does make a difference.



At this point the light comes on and I finally "get it" - that a big light source is a lot softer than a small one, and just how useful an umbrella is.

Another thing that the Strobist talks about is using flash in conjunction with the ambient light. The pictures above were taken with the flash on the opposite side of the bear from the window, and over-power its light.

Here I tried to more or less match the flash to the ambient light, to add to it not to over-power it.

First with the soft box:



And finally with the umbrella:



All of these pictures were taken with one flash, the K-S1 and DA21 Ltd.

What a wonderful exercise for me - I'm finally getting a vague idea how to use flash, and get what I want from it. It took shooting everything manual to do it, not sure I want to try any of the auto settings anytime soon.
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Old Apr 14, 2015, 11:11 PM   #2
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If I've processed these images badly, let me know. I have cataracts and double vision at the moment so seeing things on a computer monitor or in the viewfinder is hard at the moment.
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Old Apr 15, 2015, 5:01 PM   #3
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Good demonstration of what can be done with lighting. The pictures and descriptions work very well together.
I've used the small, on flash softboxes, and find they work better with a bit more distance, though. I'm not a studio photographer, and don't use anything that isn't easy to carry around, so umbrellas and large softboxes aren't something I know much about. Bounce flash off a textured ceiling(or sometimes a wall), with a catch light card generally serves me for the occasional portrait.
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Old Apr 16, 2015, 3:20 PM   #4
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Great shots-sorry about your eye problems-hope you will get better!
I use a Gary Fong Lightsphere on my Metz flash-my partner uses the umbrellas & soft boxes
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Old Apr 16, 2015, 9:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VTphotog View Post
Good demonstration of what can be done with lighting. The pictures and descriptions work very well together.
I've used the small, on flash softboxes, and find they work better with a bit more distance, though. I'm not a studio photographer, and don't use anything that isn't easy to carry around, so umbrellas and large softboxes aren't something I know much about. Bounce flash off a textured ceiling(or sometimes a wall), with a catch light card generally serves me for the occasional portrait.
I'll have to try adding some distance with the softbox - hadn't tried that out to see what it would do.

If I'm trying to play around with lighting at home I can't bounce off the ceiling because mine are wood, not white. Light bounced off them is really dreadful. I've bounced light off of a white wall, but the only wall I have that I can do that with is in the bedroom, and space isn't the biggest there. It was a fun exercise, one of the first I did when I got my flash triggers, I was surprised with just how much light was reflected off the wall. The funny thing is that I had better results using light reflected off the wall than I did trying to reflect light with a reflector. I need to work on that more - I have problem getting the angle right or something.

These exercises are teaching me more than just how to make use of flash. I can see a bit how to use some of these principles in every day shooting, too. One of these days I'll take my flash stuff outside and try to apply some of this. It also gets me thinking about other types of light modifiers, to control the flash better. But anything more along those lines will have to wait for a while. I still have a lot to learn about controlling what I do have (and hope that I can get eye surgery sooner, rather than later).
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Old Apr 19, 2015, 6:15 AM   #6
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Adding distance between small softbox and your subject will make light harder and shadows more defined.

Bouncing flash from walls is great way to make light soft and light evenly small objects.

I tried different setups for this photo and best result was bouncing from ceiling



Strobist 101 is great resource to start learnig flash, everything explained simple way with examples. Keep trying.
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Old Apr 19, 2015, 8:02 PM   #7
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Always been a mystery to me, too. I'm always overpowering things with my flash, or doing a terrible job with natural light. I do have a flash diffuser similar to this one - http://www.amazon.com/CowboyStudio-D...flash+diffuser Although, I only have the white piece, not the yellow or blue. Even with my flash on my camera set on the lowest and using this I still get some shadows and too much light when indoors. I'm not interested in having a bunch of stuff to carry around with me. And, since I mostly shoot my grandkids lately (who are always on the move) or landscapes I don't have time for a lot of stuff. But, what you did hear does make sense to me thinking it through. Not that I'd remember it all when I went to do it. :-)
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Old Apr 20, 2015, 12:52 PM   #8
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Your comment about sync speed reminded me of the day ( a long, long time ago) when I was shooting a promotion party for a co-worker. The sync speed for flash bulbs was unlimited, but for electronic flash, was 1/60s. This was pretty new to me, and I didn't pay sufficient attention, so shot everything at 1/120s with the new electronic flash. Didn't notice until I changed film, so the first roll came out with some of the nicest half frames you'd ever want to see.
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Old Apr 21, 2015, 4:04 AM   #9
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I forgot to mention one thing. Easiest way for nicely lit indoor portrait is to put lumiquest 80-20 flash diffuser on your flash, aim it at the ceiling, put your flash in pttl and fire away. You don't even have to buy it, just download shape template and cut it out from thick white cardboard. It's a great light modifier and results are great if you don't want to set up umbrellas and stands. I can post couple comparison photos when I get home.

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Old Apr 22, 2015, 3:54 PM   #10
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Practice with what you have until you are happy with the result, always good advice. Looks like you are on the path.
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