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Archive 2012 · Softbox recomendations for shooting in Church
  
 
JimClark
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p.1 #1 · Softbox recomendations for shooting in Church


Going to be shooting our Church's Easter Services and think it might be good to get a softbox for my canon Speedlite it will either be mounted on the camera or possible on a flash bracket. So any reccomendations on a softbox and tips for shooting in relatively poor lite (at least away from the stage. would be appreciated


Mar 29, 2012 at 02:54 AM
BrianO
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p.1 #2 · Softbox recomendations for shooting in Church


A soft box is at its most useful when it's fairly close to the subject...not something that would be a good idea during a service, since it would block the views of some parishoners.

Instead, I'd shoot with the camera on a tripod so you can use slow shutter speeds to capture the most ambient light possible, using large apertures for the same reason, and only using the flash to boost the ambient enough to get good exposures.

If you can't use a tripod for the types of shots you'll be taking, a stabilized lens will help.

Using the highest ISO setting you can that will yield noise levels you can live with will also help. (What camera will you be using?)

Some churches don't allow flash use during the service, but since it's your church I assume you already know the policy at yours.

What kinds of activities will be taking place during the service? (Since you said "stage" rather than "sanctuary" or "altar," I'm guessing it's not Catholic.)



Mar 29, 2012 at 03:12 AM
JimClark
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p.1 #3 · Softbox recomendations for shooting in Church


Canon 50D I will ask on the tripod good idea
Nope not Catholic It will be just general shots before during and after the service mostly people and then Baptism's also



Mar 29, 2012 at 03:39 AM
BrianO
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p.1 #4 · Softbox recomendations for shooting in Church


JimClark wrote:
...It will be just general shots before during and after the service mostly people and then Baptism's also


Handholding the camera will probably be the best then, for flexibility in angles. A stabilized lens is highly recommended. (A tripod could still be handy for shots of the minister giving the sermon/homily, singers/cantors, etc.)

For baptisms by affusion at a baptismal font, I use a moderately wide-angle lens like a 35mm on a full-frame camera or a 17-55 zoom on a cropped body, and a flash on a bracket like a Stroboframe 360 or similar.

For baptism by immersion when the pool is up behind the chancel I use a longer lens, like a 70-200 zoom, and shoot from the back of the nave or up in the choir loft if there is one. I don't use a flash then, but try to use a tripod when I can.

Since there are many church layouts and many ways of performing the various functions, it's always a matter of being flexible and working with the conditions as they unfold, but the above general practices are my starting points.



Mar 29, 2012 at 04:43 AM
cgardner
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p.1 #5 · Softbox recomendations for shooting in Church


Your plan to use a bracket is a good one. Lighting patterns are characterized by the angle of the dominant "key" lighting relative to the nose. Raising the flash on the bracket increases the angle vertically to a closer match to natual downward light. The direction the nose points relative to the light will define the pattern of highlights and shadow, producing the flattering centered key-light "butterfly" modeling in full face views.

As for adding a diffuser? In terms of cause and effect and effectiveness speedlight diffusers of all types get most of their shadow lightening property not from "wrapping" from the edges to the modiffier, but rather from the part of the light footprint bouncing off the ceiling and walls. That cause and effect is obvious if you compare results of a modifier indoors in a small room vs outdoors at night there there is no bounce or ambient to lighten the shadows.

Where you will see a different is in the highlights. Specular reflections are the reflection of source. As you make the source larger the reflection of the flash on the skin gets larger. A lot depends on the skin. With normal dry skin even direct flash will not create objectionable specular reflections, but on a face that is either naturally oily/sweating or covered with lotion or make-up that make it shiny even a large source will create objectionable specular "hot" spots. On the the advantages of using the flash bracket is where it locates the highlights. Instead of falling low on the cheekbones as with flash in the hot shoe (especially in portrait mode) the bracket raises them to the top of the cheekbones where natural light would put them. The bracket doesn't eliminate them, it simply makes them look more natural and less distracting in the photos.

If your church has high ceilings where you will not get any cieling "spill fill" bounce then you would only see a benefit of the diffuser close-up. This is what I use...







It is a DIY creation make from two 9" x 12" sheets of "fun foam" with a nylon mesh between them to help keep it wide and bowl shaped when deployed. The top flap, held with velcro, can be deployed down to bounce all the flash output forward, functioning simiar to a dish refector. As noted the wider foot print it creates will bounce some light off the ceiling creating a "wrap off ceilign and wall" fill effect even with the top down, but since most of the light is directed forward it is more effecient than some other diffusers such as caps which waste photons lighting parts of the room not in the photo. When there is a ceiling availble for bounce I also have the optiion to open the top flap, with the light bouncing forward providing a frontal component and the refection of the larger source creating slighly larger catchlighting in the eyes than direct flash.

Modifier size choice is a matter of logistics. Bigger willl create a larger footprint and less specular highlgihts but isn't practical on a flash bracket. I tried DIY diffusers created with 12 x 18 foam sheets and found them unwieldy. I also experimented with adding a front diffuser panel more like a SB and found it didn't change the quality of the lighting much but cut output in half.

As BrianO mentioned and I agree, often the best strategy is to turn off the flash or use a tripod. In situations where a diffuser isn't the best choice, due to distance, power, etc. mine is easily removed. I use identical quick releases on my bracket and tripod so I can switch between the two rapidly if needed.

The best thing about DIY is that it takes very little money to experiment with diferent lighting stratgies. I have a template for the diffuser at http://photo.nova.org/DIY01/ and examples of the results it produces. The foam sheets can usually be found in the school supply section of Walmart and the nylon mesh is what is used for cross-stiching and can be found in the sewing sectiion or a craft store. But anything flat, white and still will work. In a pinch I've made them out of photo paper assembled with a stapler and attached to the flash with tape. You might want to make one that way and compare the results vs, direct flash and it might convince you to take the trip to Walmart





In a high ceiling space like a church you wouldn't get much, if any spill fill.



Mar 29, 2012 at 11:18 AM





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