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Thread: Lighting- Flash or continuous for newborns?

  1. #1
    realdereal's Avatar
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    Lighting- Flash or continuous for newborns?

    I was looking at this here:
    6500K Day Light 840 Watt Photography 33" Umbrella Continuous Photo Lighting Kit, AGG293

    I have no idea about flash photography- AT ALL - and I want an easy-easy- natural-looking setup.
    If anyone can assist me I would appreciate it.

    (I just purchased a Nikon 5200 and have a 1.8 50mm prime lens, tamron 28-300 macro and the kit lens if that helps at all)

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Lighting- Flash or continuous for newborns?

    Hi Kristen - Continuous light can be okay for still photography and generally needs the camera mounted on a tripod because exposures tend to be fairly long. It is terrible for shooting people; where flash is generally the best way to go.

    Generally the light output is quite low, when compared to a flash. It can be quite hot; 840W generates a lot of heat. The advantage of continuous light is the photographer can see what he or she is shooting. I personally would stay away from continuous light for anything other than fairly small objects.

    I would never even consider it for newborns; it would be too stressful on them. If the light ever got knocked over and fell on the newborn, serious burns would result. I generally find that the best light from a light modifier occurs when it is positioned somewhere between 1 to 2 times the diameter from the subject. With a 33" umbrella, this puts you in the 33" to 66" range away from the baby.
    Last edited by GrumpyDiver; 6th June 2013 at 11:57 PM.

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    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Lighting- Flash or continuous for newborns?

    Kristen, I agree with Manfred. However, flash can be an easy setup and it can be quite natural looking.

    Bouncing flash off the ceilng and modifying it with a diffuser/reflector like the Joe Demb Flash Diffuser Pro or a DIY reflector/diffuser http://super.nova.org/DPR/DIY01/ can provide quite natural looking lighting.

    However an eBay unit like this one can do the job quite inexpensively and quite well http://www.ebay.com/itm/Flash-Diffus...item3a7f9aaf81

    It will also be safe for newborns since the flash is not hitting their faces directly.

    BTW: It is fine to shoot with the flash on the camera's hotshoe. I like the have the narrow side of the flash pointing towards the subject (and at right angle to the camera). That way when you switch from horizontal to vertical composition, the flash will still be pointed in the correct direction to bounce off the ceiling...

    Lighting- Flash or continuous for newborns?
    Demb Flash Products Image
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 7th June 2013 at 02:46 AM.

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    realdereal's Avatar
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    Re: Lighting- Flash or continuous for newborns?

    Ok- So I guess I need a speedlight? And diffuser?

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Lighting- Flash or continuous for newborns?

    Quote Originally Posted by realdereal View Post
    Ok- So I guess I need a speedlight? And diffuser?
    A Speedlight and some form of light modifier for sure. I prefer off-camera with an umbrella like these. The Commander mode on your D5200 can be used to fire the slaved Speedlight. A single light, light stand, umbrella and mount is a good place to start.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...lla_Mount.html

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    realdereal's Avatar
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    Re: Lighting- Flash or continuous for newborns?

    Thank you guys! So confused about flash but I think I will be able to pull something out from what you mentioned. Now for strength and that- Is there different light strengths for the flash lighting like continuous or is it pretty standard?

  7. #7
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Lighting- Flash or continuous for newborns?

    No, there is no "standard" in either continuous lighting or flash. At a high level, the more you pay, the higher the power and the higher the number of features. I own two Nikon Speelights - SB600 and SB900; both have been replaced by newer models. These days I tend to shoot with the SB900 as my key (main) light and will use the SB600 as a fill light.

    The important feature that both units have is that one can swivel and tilt the flash head. While I sometimes use on-camera flash for fill light, I never use it as my main light source. I will use on-camera flash as a bounce light; where I aim it at a white or neutral coloured ceiling or wall to light up a scene, but prefer using an umbrella as it just acts as a much nicer light source. It's just not always possible to do so.

    The only current Nikon flash for DSLRs I would stay away from is the SB-400, as it has a fixed head.

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    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Lighting- Flash or continuous for newborns?

    Piggy-backing on Manfred's recommendaton to stay away from flashes with "fixed head", I recommend that a photographer select a flash that both tilts and rotates. Tilting allows bouncing a hotshoe mounted flash off the ceiling when you are shooting in the horizontal position; while rotating allows you to bounce flash off the ceiling when in the vertical position.

    While you can bounce off walls, I find that bouncing off a ceiling will provide better lighting - especially when combined with a reflector/diffuser.

    However, if you shoot with a camera flip bracket such as the Stroboframe
    Lighting- Flash or continuous for newborns?
    it doesn't matter if the flash can rotate as long as it can tilt...

    IMO, a hotshoe/stroboframe mounted hotshoe flash bounced and combined with a diffuser reflector is one of the quckest and easiest ways to provide decent light. I prefer the Joe Demb Flash Diffuser Pro. See my one-light portraits linked from Joe Demb's website at:
    www.dembflashproducts.com

    The link is at the right side of the page referring to Escondido Photographer Richard Crowe...

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    realdereal's Avatar
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    Re: Lighting- Flash or continuous for newborns?

    Ok- So the store up the street has a Nikon SB700 for a bit over $300.
    I was really hoping to go less but if that's the best option as far as economy, ease of use, and performance(?) Then I will pick one up tomorrow. I hope that is a good option as I'm not sure what else to do but I want to have something soon.
    Thank you guys
    I hope I get some responses on the Nikon SB700

  10. #10
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    Re: Lighting- Flash or continuous for newborns?

    The SB-700 is a good choice, particularly when it comes to component and build quality. But if you're really strapped for cash there are some 3rd party alternatives you can consider. The analogs to the SB-700 would be the Metz 50 or the Nissin Di-622 or Di-700 if you wanted the ability to upgrade firmware and most of the bells and whistles. The Yongnuo YN-565EX or YN-568EX if you don't care as much about future compatibility as you do about price. If you want to go cheap-cheap than the YN-468EX might also work, but it's not nearly as nice as the other offerings.

    Those are all flashes that you can use on-camera with iTTL, which is an automatic way for the camera to set the flash's output power based upon metering. It's a great tool for run'n'gun event shooting or as a learning tool. As with any automated mode, you tend to use it for speed and convenience, but since it's based on metering, it may not always be perfect. So they all also have a Manual mode, which you can use for consistency and precision, just as you use M mode on the camera.

    My recommendation to you is first, learn to be comfortable shooting available light with your camera in M mode. Have ambient-only light completely mastered before you try to add flash, because flash just complicates the exposure/light-think something fierce. Then, start with a single on-camera flash without modifiers, and master bouncing and fill-flash and dragging the shutter. You can get diffused natural-looking light. You'll be more limited on angles and amount of light than if you went with off-camera lighting, but it will be much cheaper, simpler, and easier to master.

    Once you hit the limits of what bouncing and on-camera flash can do for you, THEN it's time to hit the off-camera lighting, and buying all the other paraphernalia of triggers, stands, swivels, and modifiers. Start small and simple and then advance towards the more complex stuff like multiple light setups. By the time you hit off-camera lighting, you may shooting in M on both the camera and the flash, and be able to get away with cheaper all-manual gear.

    Right now, I say TTL-capable speedlight, $1 sheet of black craft foam from Michaels to make a black foamie thing, and learn to bounce. Walk before you try to fly.

    One more note. About the cost of the flash? Flashes are like your lenses, they'll move with you from camera body to camera body. And you can use them with every lens you own. And they can seriously expand your photographic capabilities, particularly when it comes to portraits. Think of the cost as the cost of a lens, and it won't seem quite that expensive.
    Last edited by inkista; 8th June 2013 at 06:58 AM.

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    Re: Lighting- Flash or continuous for newborns?

    I would also strongly recommend the sb-700. I've had one for a while now and it's done very well. That with an umbrella and stand and you'll be ready to take over the world.

    Also, if you want to learn about lighting, check out strobist.com
    If you look on the right side, there's a drop down box that says "lighting 101." That's where I learned most oh what got me started with lighting.

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    PhotomanJohn's Avatar
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    Re: Lighting- Flash or continuous for newborns?

    Sb-700

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    Re: Lighting- Flash or continuous for newborns?

    I have often thought that the Metz 50AF-1 was an excellent choice in flash units for Canon and Nikon cameras. It had all the bells and whistles that I look for in a flash unit:

    tilt + rotate
    TTL exposure
    High Speed Sync
    Decent power
    Decent charging time
    reputable manufacturer
    Upgradable software
    A very good price which ran about $200 to $249 USD.

    However, Metz seems to have discontinued this unit and I only found one (for Nikon) available on Amazon from a dealer with whom I am not familiar.

    http://www.amazon.com/Metz-MZ-50314N...ds=Metz+50AF-1

    The Mstz 50AF-1 appears to have been replaced with the 52AF-1 which is also a very nice flash unit but, sems to be a lot more expensive than the 50AF-1. The 52AF-1 seems to run closer to $300. I would probably consider the Nikon flash if the prices were close...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 8th June 2013 at 06:57 PM.

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    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: Lighting- Flash or continuous for newborns?

    Kristen:

    Just wondering out loud if you have tried available light? Newborns don't move very fast, and they can be exposed to light (not direct sun in the eyes obviously). I took pics of both my grand-daughters shortly after birth in the hospital with the room lighting.

    Glenn

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    Cantab's Avatar
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    Re: Lighting- Flash or continuous for newborns?

    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn NK View Post
    Kristen:

    Just wondering out loud if you have tried available light? Newborns don't move very fast, and they can be exposed to light (not direct sun in the eyes obviously). I took pics of both my grand-daughters shortly after birth in the hospital with the room lighting.

    Glenn
    I have a fast (f1.4) Sigma 30mm lens that worked well for available light shots of a niece shortly after she was born.

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    realdereal's Avatar
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    Re: Lighting- Flash or continuous for newborns?

    Thanks you guys have been so helpful and I went with the Nikon SB700. I really appreciate your suggestions and encouragement and I can't wait to put it all together. (Being proficient at lighting technique) I generally study for 1-2 hours on everything from color scales to aperture and shooting whenever I can also. I will be checking out those sites though for sure.

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    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Lighting- Flash or continuous for newborns?

    BTW Kristen... I wish the new baby and family a happy, healthy and loving lifetime... Be sure to post images!

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