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Thread: Flash Photography

  1. #1
    Nicola's Avatar
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    Flash Photography

    A few days ago, I experienced for the first time, indoor flash photography with a 580ex flash on my 50D (thanks to ones of you suggested me such speedlight!)
    it was my new niece baptism. In matter of photography, it has been a baptism to me, nice and hard at the same time. I try to summarize my experience in order to receive your feedback, as always, criticism and comments are very welcomed!
    So first of all I tried some test shots with flash turned off in order to set my camera for background light:
    here one of those, exif says ISO1600, 1/60, f/4, Manual mode
    I decided to not open more than f/4 in order to have enough DoF

    Flash Photography

    the ambient was too much dark but I decided to not increase ISO to 3200asa to avoid noise. So I decided for a bounced flash light (TTL mode) as the primary light. Below a test shot (same exif data)

    Flash Photography

    than I "trimmed" my camera every time the condition was changing, sometimes lowering ISO to 800, and/or reducing a bit the shutter speed.

    I achieved some bad shots, like the one below, where I didn't flag my flash well: persons on the right are overexposed and lit by too direct light, and the persons to the left vice versa.

    Flash Photography

    But this setting delivered some good lighting, at least from my point of view.

    Flash Photography

    Flash Photography

    Finally, what (I think) was wrong
    - when I bounce my flash, I must be more careful at the distance from surface to subjects
    - I could use slower shutter speed if flash is the primary light as the flash freeze the motion
    - I can decrease ISO when shooting portrait if a darker background could help to enhance the subject
    - I need a gray card to WB with bounced light in order to balance the color cast

    what (I think) was good
    - The choice for bounced light and the position of some of the surfaces
    - The choice of camera settings (excluding some few cases)
    - Increase/decrease ISO considering changes of background light and speedlight’s recycling time

    And now what do you think??
    Thanks a lot for viewing and commenting!!
    Have a nice day
    Nicola

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    Chriss Goyenechea

    Re: Flash Photography

    You did pretty good Nicola. Always be aware of your surrounding so that you would point your flash to bounce. Just like your 4th image, it looks really nice bouncing from the left of you. It looks like you have your flash off cam.

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    Re: Flash Photography

    Hi Nicola,

    Ive got to run right now, but in short ...

    1. Good job

    2. Consider a Lightsphere for lighting up a room more evenly

    3. If you have problems with uneven lighting across a frame as in #3, just apply a GND filter in your RAW converter.

    4. Directional lighting as per #4 is a good thing.

    Your thoughts re flash use are generally correct, although ISO won't directly affect ambient light if you're shooting in an auto mode like Av. Generally auto modes are easier - just get familiar with EC and FEC.

  4. #4
    CougarFool's Avatar
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    Lovely pictures and great explanations. A very expensive flash but these images show why they are worth the money.

    Grazie.

  5. #5
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    Re: Flash Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Crovean View Post
    You did pretty good Nicola. Always be aware of your surrounding so that you would point your flash to bounce. Just like your 4th image, it looks really nice bouncing from the left of you. It looks like you have your flash off cam.
    thanks Chriss!
    fortunately, in the #4 I found the right surface (left wall + ceiling) and I pointed my flash correctly. anyway, it hasn't been easy in many other times to find quickly the right surface and point the flash towards it... they weren't posing! pant pant!

  6. #6
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    Re: Flash Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Nicola,

    Ive got to run right now, but in short ...

    1. Good job

    2. Consider a Lightsphere for lighting up a room more evenly

    3. If you have problems with uneven lighting across a frame as in #3, just apply a GND filter in your RAW converter.

    4. Directional lighting as per #4 is a good thing.

    Your thoughts re flash use are generally correct, although ISO won't directly affect ambient light if you're shooting in an auto mode like Av. Generally auto modes are easier - just get familiar with EC and FEC.
    thanks Colin!
    your feedback is really encouraging for me!
    thanks for the suggestions, i try the GND immediately

    When I use Av or Tv, I'm used to correct ambient light with EC and fill flash light with FEC;
    in this case, I was shooting in Manual mode, so, if i'm right (am I?), shutter speed should let me control ambient light, and ISO should affect ambient light and flash power... am I wrong? (I'm considering aperture as a constant, since I fixed af f/4 to avoid focus error)
    thanks
    cheers
    N

  7. #7
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    Re: Flash Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by CougarFool View Post
    Lovely pictures and great explanations. A very expensive flash but these images show why they are worth the money.

    Grazie.
    Prego (= you are welcome)
    Nigel, thanks for the comment!
    yes the flash is expensive, anyway, with 'only' 400 eur you can use a top level gear. much cheaper than a top level lens or camera!
    if you are looking for flash, perhaps this thread could help you
    Comparison among flash models

  8. #8

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    Re: Flash Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicola View Post
    When I use Av or Tv, I'm used to correct ambient light with EC and fill flash light with FEC;
    in this case, I was shooting in Manual mode, so, if i'm right (am I?), shutter speed should let me control ambient light, and ISO should affect ambient light and flash power... am I wrong? (I'm considering aperture as a constant, since I fixed af f/4 to avoid focus error)
    Hi Nicola,

    Since you've grasped the fundamentals well, I'll give you the "full story" on what affects what ...

    Ambient exposure is affected by shutterspeed / ISO / and aperture (assuming you're shooting manual here). You'll often hear it said that shutterspeed doesn't matter when shooting with flash, but there are a couple of "gotchas" that can bite you in the bum:

    1. In a fill flash situation, you'll always have a mix of flash and ambient; the flash MAY freeze the action, or the ambient may be of high enough proportion so that you can still get subject movement. If the flash power is more than 2 stops above the ambient exposure then - normally - the flash will freeze things fairly well, but a shot with EC and FEC set to 0 - at normal lighting levels - will normally produce fill flash -v- ambient ratios of about 1:1 (or 50% / 50%) (not enough to stop motion).

    2. Above your cameras x-sync speed (usually around 1/250th) the flash will use HSS (High Speed Sync) mode (if enabled) (hint, always enable it because although HSS is less efficient, even if it's enabled, the camera will just use normal mode below X-Sync anyway). When using HSS mode you're effectively working with a constant light source, so the old "shutter speed has no effect on flash" rule goes flying out the window (at which point changing aperture / shutter speed / ISO won't change the flash to ambient ratio -- all you can do at that point is play with your EC and FEC (or manually adjust the flash power settings).

    Just be aware, that Canon treat flash zones a little differently from Nikon; With Canon - even if you dial in -3EV EC the camera will still try to expose the subject matter in the flash zone normally - so think of EC and FEC being different adjustments that don't interact.

    Hope I didn't confuse you

  9. #9
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    Re: Flash Photography

    Nicola,
    Thanks for the link.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicola View Post
    Prego (= you are welcome)
    Mia moglie č italiana!

  10. #10
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    Re: Flash Photography

    tthank you very much again Colin!
    you didn't confuse me!
    on the contrary, you confirmed my thoughts, and you made me understand better what happen beyond the x-sync speed: yes, in my previous post is missing the necessity to use of FEC and Ec beyond x-sync speed.
    I've still to taste "on my skin" the HSS function on the field! I'm looking forward to play with it!
    cheers
    N

  11. #11
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    Re: Flash Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by CougarFool View Post
    Nicola,
    Thanks for the link.



    Mia moglie č italiana!
    so I can write:

    č stato un piacere!
    i migliori saluti a te e alla tua famiglia
    ciao
    Nicola

  12. #12
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    Re: Flash Photography

    I take the occasion to post an other picture from the baptism, the cerimony was over and i found a couple of minutes to play with my flash:

    unusual lighting for a child's pic...
    I bounced to the floor, so the face has a red color cast (terrifying as i wanted). she was an heartquake during the cerimony
    cheers
    N

    Flash Photography

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    Re: Flash Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicola View Post
    tthank you very much again Colin!
    you didn't confuse me!
    on the contrary, you confirmed my thoughts, and you made me understand better what happen beyond the x-sync speed: yes, in my previous post is missing the necessity to use of FEC and Ec beyond x-sync speed.
    I've still to taste "on my skin" the HSS function on the field! I'm looking forward to play with it!
    cheers
    N
    No problemo my friend!

    Since I can tell that you're going to be a grand-master of flash photography in record time, theres a couple of other things you might find helpful ...

    1. Consider investing in some gels so that you can balance the temperature of the flash to the ambient light - I'd recommend CTO and CTB (colour temperature orange and blue), in 1/4, 1/2, and full cuts (use CTO for tungsten and CTB for flourescent ambient lighting).

    2. NK Guy wrote a book on EOS Flash photography (and was kind enough to send me a free autographed copy) -- investing in this would really help in getting more comfortable and familiar with all of the features.

    http://www.amazon.com/Mastering-Cano...2686297&sr=8-2 (Kindle Edition) (Recommended)

    http://www.amazon.com/Mastering-Cano...2686297&sr=8-1 (hard copy edition)

  14. #14
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    Re: Flash Photography

    you make my face red Colin too kind!
    on the 2nd of june I've the wedding of my sister (I've 4 sisters she is the last one not still married )
    for that day I have to be more confident about that matter and I'm going to invest something more on equipment.
    a friend of mine will lend me a couple of portable reflectors, and i'm considering the Demb Flash products that Richard suggested me. I will ask him more details soon.
    the book of NK Guy is a "must have": I will "strongly suggest" it to my girlfriend for my Xmas present!
    thanks
    N

  15. #15

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    Re: Flash Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicola View Post
    you make my face red Colin too kind!
    No problem - if anyone takes a photo of it, just add a HSB layer, and reduce it using the red adjustment!

    on the 2nd of june I've the wedding of my sister (I've 4 sisters she is the last one not still married )
    That's the good thing about weddings ... if you muck it up the first time, you'll usually get another chance with the same bride in a year or two



    for that day I have to be more confident about that matter and I'm going to invest something more on equipment.
    We've discussed wedding photography a lot in the past - my opinion is that you're probably better off all contributing some $$$ to pay someone else to do it. That way you can enjoy the event more, and there's no pressure. Wedding photography is probably THE most high-pressure shooting situation there is - and all done under a variety of hard-to-photograph conditions.

    a friend of mine will lend me a couple of portable reflectors, and i'm considering the Demb Flash products that Richard suggested me. I will ask him more details soon.
    I'd strongly suggest looking at investing in a lightsphere. Diffusion isn't possible "on flash" as the effective size of the light source doesn't change significantly - the effect comes from throwing the light all around the room - and THAT's what the lightsphere does very well. One CAN get good results with other products, but I'd suggest that the lightsphere will do a better job then most more often. (Not trying to knock Demb products, but I do feel that they'r part of a family of similar products that "do their thing" in a way that (in my humble) (or usually not so humble!) opinion isn't as good as one that throws the light everywhere whilst at the same time directing a portion forward to give good catch lights.

    the book of NK Guy is a "must have": I will "strongly suggest" it to my girlfriend for my Xmas present!
    If it helps, I'm sure we can all get together to create a more extensive list for you to give to her!

  16. #16
    CougarFool's Avatar
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    Re: Flash Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicola View Post
    so I can write:

    č stato un piacere!
    i migliori saluti a te e alla tua famiglia
    ciao
    Nicola
    Certo! Anche alla tua famiglia e amici.
    Ciao.

  17. #17
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    Re: Flash Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    No problem - if anyone takes a photo of it, just add a HSB layer, and reduce it using the red adjustment!


    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    That's the good thing about weddings ... if you muck it up the first time, you'll usually get another chance with the same bride in a year or two



    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    We've discussed wedding photography a lot in the past - my opinion is that you're probably better off all contributing some $$$ to pay someone else to do it. That way you can enjoy the event more, and there's no pressure. Wedding photography is probably THE most high-pressure shooting situation there is - and all done under a variety of hard-to-photograph conditions.
    For sure! anyway I think the pressure will be lower than during a wedding of unknown people: since I know very well what my sister and my brother in law are asking me, I know they aren't demanding, I know they will be pleased of every kind of result because it is free! it is one of the few, if not the only, occasion for me to try a W. photosession. I attended many weddings in my family (i've also a brother and many cousins!) and for sure I will learn a lot from that day. It is going to be a challenge for me, and I like challenges, I already have the same "eye of the tiger" I've had during my sport career! in the end, I will get the support of CiC, will I?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    I'd strongly suggest looking at investing in a lightsphere. Diffusion isn't possible "on flash" as the effective size of the light source doesn't change significantly - the effect comes from throwing the light all around the room - and THAT's what the lightsphere does very well. One CAN get good results with other products, but I'd suggest that the lightsphere will do a better job then most more often. (Not trying to knock Demb products, but I do feel that they'r part of a family of similar products that "do their thing" in a way that (in my humble) (or usually not so humble!) opinion isn't as good as one that throws the light everywhere whilst at the same time directing a portion forward to give good catch lights.
    thanks for the suggestion!
    in the next month, I try to make a choice among all the possibilities. I will need your help again

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    If it helps, I'm sure we can all get together to create a more extensive list for you to give to her!
    I have no doubt! my own is already too too long! is somewhere Santa Chlaus?

    thanks a lot
    N

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