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Old Feb 13, 2007, 3:06 PM   #1
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First off let me say that I am very new to digital photography and with the birth of our new baby boy we want to take portraits at home that could be somewhat equivalent to the department store studios - i.e. wal-mart, sears.

As of now we have a S3 and have been taking lots of photos with it and are completely satisfied, but would like to experiment with portrait style photos of our baby.

I know my camera may be somewhat limited but would be curious to hear from others if I could achieve decent results.

Right now I am considering purchasing 2 umbrellas, tripod and have looked at purchasing the HF-DC1 flash for my camera but not sure if it is really needed or not. I am confused about the umbrellas - will I need more flash or can I get by with the flash on the camera?

I now these are random questions, but I would appreciate any advice or comments. Thanks!
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Old Feb 13, 2007, 4:04 PM   #2
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It will be difficult getting good results with the onboard flash as the light is too direct. The HC-DC1 flash doesn't appear to be able to direct the light upwards to bounce off a white ceiling either and can only be considered as a booster for the onboard flash.

Your camera doesn't seem to have a hot shoe either to permit using an external flash. Too bad as bouncing the flash off the ceiling would be the easiest solution but you need an external flash with a tiltable head for that.

You mentioned using umbrellas. These are used as reflectors for studio flash heads. Some can be used with external flash units but in either case you would need some way of triggering the remote flash units.

What may work is using a halogen work floodlight of 500 to 1000 watts directed upward to reflect off the ceiling. Relecting the light this way provides a diffuse natural light. It may provide enough light to permit reasonable shutter speeds to freeze action. They do get hot however and should be kept away from pets and children.

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Old Feb 13, 2007, 7:39 PM   #3
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Here is an example of using an external flash on the camera and tilting the flash at 45 degrees to bounce off the ceiling.
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Old Feb 14, 2007, 10:59 AM   #4
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You would be much better off with a third party flash that has much more capability at the same price as the Canon flash. Features to look for are bounce and swivel head and that the flash is a "digital" slave, not the older simple optical slaves. Digital slave flashes will differentiate between the pre-flash and the main flash that digital cameras fire, and the slave will not trigger until the main flash. For example:


Find a white wall or use a large white poster board or foamcore to bounce the slave flash (a cheaper option to an umbrella). Lighting from the side and a little above is very attractive. This is where you need the swivel head. The optical sensor that triggers the slave flash is on the front of the unit, and it has to be able to see the on-camera flash in order to trigger the slave. Let's say the white wall is to your left. You will be facing your baby, and the slave flash will be positioned to your left. The slave flash will be on a tripod a couple of feet from the wall. The front of the slave will be facing your baby and the flash head will be swiveled 180 degrees to be facing the wall. You will enable your on-camera flash to serve as a fill light as well as to trigger the slave. There are two ways to do this. You can set the flash exposure compensation for the on-camera flash to about -1 FEC. In this setting, the on-camera flash will fire a pre-flash so you will need to set the slave to recognize a pre-flash. Or you can set the on-camera flash to a manual reduced power setting. In those mode I believe a pre-flash is not fired, so you will need to set the slave to trigger without preflash. Set the camera in manual mode, good starting settings are ISO 100, f 5.6, shutter speed 1/100. Put a teddy bear as a stand-in for your baby and start experimenting with flash power settings, distance from the wall, and aperture until you get pleasing results.

But don't forget just using ambient light. A sleeping baby doesn't move much, so if you've got some nice window light, set the camera on a tripod and take some pics with slow shutter speeds and no flash.

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