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Archive 2012 · Flash or reflector?
  
 
evillemperor
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p.1 #1 · Flash or reflector?


So I am shooting my friend's senior portraits soon, and I one a 22in sun reflector and the T2i. She wants to do an "urban" setting. Should I stick with what I've got for lighting or should I also rent the 580 EX II for $30? I think it will be about late afternoon/early evening during the fall.


Aug 28, 2012 at 03:15 AM
BrianO
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p.1 #2 · Flash or reflector?


In an "urban" setting, especially in the evening in the fall, it's hard to know before hand exactly what the light will be like at the time and place at which you want to shoot.

Taking along a Speedlite is good insurance. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.



Aug 28, 2012 at 04:02 AM
kurtis miller
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p.1 #3 · Flash or reflector?


First off... BrianO you are an asset to this community, your posts are always positive and resourceful!

For the OP. Do you have a helper for that reflector? Having one that knows how to use it will help a lot. Using a on shoe strobe (especially one with ETTL) is always good backup insurance just make sure you have the HSS mode turned on so you can get over 1/250+ in well lit situations (a 430exII has it as well).

Good luck, have fun, and looking forward to seeing what you come up with!



Aug 28, 2012 at 04:40 PM
evillemperor
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p.1 #4 · Flash or reflector?


Hello, and thank you both. I will possibly have an assistant with me. He doesn't know much about photography, but last time he did a pretty good job filling in light (it was my first photo shoot and the first time I ever used a light reflector). It is a gold reflector. It is possible that it would be in the evening, I want to try something out, but it most likely will be in the afternoon. What white balance should I use if I am using both (custom in post?)? Also, (I am new to flash so please bear with me) when would I use the flash outside with the reflector? I don't have any slave capabilities on my camera.


Aug 28, 2012 at 11:07 PM
kurtis miller
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p.1 #5 · Flash or reflector?


evillemperor wrote:
Hello, and thank you both. I will possibly have an assistant with me. He doesn't know much about photography, but last time he did a pretty good job filling in light (it was my first photo shoot and the first time I ever used a light reflector). It is a gold reflector. It is possible that it would be in the evening, I want to try something out, but it most likely will be in the afternoon. What white balance should I use if I am using both (custom in post?)? Also, (I am new to flash so please bear
...Show more


Easy video explaining things to think about for what you are asking: from Adorama (with a random person laying on the ground behind them): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ts-_aQjqSTg

If you don't know about white balance put it on auto shoot it in RAW and its easily corrected in post if it gets out of whack.

Going off camera with your strobe is a fun challenge IMO! I love it because it is a lighting puzzle of sorts. Keep in mind that you do not need strobes with ETTL (manual strobes are way cheaper) because it can all be figured out in manual. Many different ways to trigger them so that is another story....




Aug 29, 2012 at 12:46 AM
JohnBrose
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p.1 #6 · Flash or reflector?


I don't usually use bounced light outside, bouncing the sun into your subjects eyes doesn't do nice things to their expression especially if their eyes are in the least bit sensitive to light. Also your reflector is way too small for any type of portrait other than a tight head shot. Strobes are a good way to go, but you do need to know how to use them. Main thing to remember is not to have the flash/strobe on your camera either by using slaves or cords.


Aug 29, 2012 at 01:11 AM
evillemperor
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p.1 #7 · Flash or reflector?


kurtis: thank you I'll check that out.
JohnBrose: I do mostly head shots and while it was bright for them the first time, I'll be shooting a little later so it won't be as bad. Undortunatly, we will be shooting out in public, so I won't be able to carry a lot of strobes and I do have a limited budget.



Aug 29, 2012 at 01:34 AM
BrianO
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p.1 #8 · Flash or reflector?


evillemperor wrote:
...I won't be able to carry a lot of strobes and I do have a limited budget.


If you can stretch your budget a bit, I'd suggest getting an off-camera shoe cord. That will allow you to hold the Speedlite at arm's length from the lens axis, which will give a vast improvement over an on-camera flash if bouncing isn't an option (as it often isn't outdoors).

You mentioned that you were going to rent the Speedlite, and if so the rental shop may have an OC-E3 cable you can rent for a few dollars.

If you put the camera in manual mode you can still have the Speedlite in ETTL mode, and it will do a very good job of balancing its power output with the ambient exposure. Take several shots at slightly different apertures as insurance.

Good luck.



Aug 29, 2012 at 03:37 AM
evillemperor
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p.1 #9 · Flash or reflector?


It turns out that they DO have an off camera cord for only$5 to rent (the type isn't specifically mentioned) . I have never used a flash like that before with all of the Manuel controls, any suggestions?


Aug 29, 2012 at 03:56 AM
BrianO
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p.1 #10 · Flash or reflector?


evillemperor wrote:
It turns out that they DO have an off camera cord for only$5 to rent (the type isn't specifically mentioned) .


Excellent! It'll make a big difference. Get it above face level and pointing slightly downward to cast nice shadows from the nose and chin, but not so high that it'll shade the eyes ("raccoon eyes").

You can also move the raised flash to one side or the other for different shadow/highlight patterns; which side -- or centered -- will be best depends on the subject's face, pose, ambient light direction, etc. so you'll just need to experiment to see what works best. That's the great thing about digital compared to film: you can shoot a lot and then only print/save-to-disk the ones that you like. The "client" never needs to see the mistakes.

evillemperor wrote:
...I have never used a flash like that before with all of the Manuel controls, any suggestions?


Yep: don't use manual flash.

Use manual exposure on the camera (you set the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO), and use ETTL automatic on the flash. With Canon's EOS system, this works very well in most conditions, and is what I usually do if I'm not using multiple flashes (and sometimes even if I am).

The rental shop can make sure the flash is in ETTL mode when you pick it up, and it'll stay that way even when you turn it on and off as long as you don't change anything.

Good luck.



Aug 29, 2012 at 07:19 PM
 

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evillemperor
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p.1 #11 · Flash or reflector?


Thank you! I may be using the 7D when I I'll shoot (my school ownes one and my teacher calls me "the adoptive father" for it because I helped him select it), so will I need the cord still? I don't shoot in LiveView unless on a tripod, but I like to frame and set my exposures it it so I can getan idea of what it will look like. Will I get an approximation of what the flash will do? And the camera will calculate the proper flash power if I shoot a faster shutter speedor narrower aperature? I'm a total newby here, so please bear with me. And I actually do show her the mistake shots, I give her all the pics and then she'll tell me which to edit. She understands that it takes 20 shots for one good one.


Aug 29, 2012 at 09:40 PM
Roland W
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p.1 #12 · Flash or reflector?


You have some advice on flash shown above, but it may be a big jump for you to rent it and learn more about using it and then use it all in a short time (one day?). So just be aware, or see if you can find a resource to borrow a Canon flash to experiment and learn with ahead of time. In general, you should learn first, and then do important shoots. If this shoot is repeatable if you mess up, which it may be if it is a friend, then there is less pressure to make it all happen right the first time other than rental expenses.

I want to mention more about reflectors. The shiny silver or gold ones are useful, but they tend to be very bright and very hard to aim just right. And even if it is later, the direct sun on a reflector is the same brightness no matter how late it is in the day. You may want to consider adding a larger white reflector to your collection. They are not shiny, and they produce a more diffuse light. They are usually used fairly close to the subject, but they do not tend to blind them. They are also much less critical for aiming. And for head shot stuff you can even sometimes get your subject to hold the reflector. An assistant is also still useful too. With reflectors you can see the effect you are getting with your eye, and there is no technology type learning required for using flash with manual or ETTL settings, and getting the flash all configured.

For reflector only shooting, or even for flash shooting, you should likely scout out locations, including seeing them at the time of day you want to shoot. You can even practice on any willing subject (victim) to learn about the lighting, and then the real shoot can go much smoother, and perhaps get to several different locations.

You mentioned liking to shoot from a tripod. You might consider doing that, and using a remote release on a cord for the camera, and then holding a reflector your self, with the release in one of your hands. Just another way to approach shooting when you do not have enough hands.

Find some on line or book resources that cover lighting. The principles are the same for both reflectors and for flash, and the variations really are related to how many sources of light you have or create. And you can also do a lot with one flash and still use a reflector or two added to it. Obviously as things get more complicated you may end up needing lots of assistants, or need lighting stands for flashes or reflectors, but that will likely be later in your experience.

If you really want to go the flash route, find one of the good on line resources that covers using Canon flashes, and get an idea of how complicated it can get. Using basic ETTL with a flash on the camera and adjusting the flash with Flash Exposure Compensation is often easy to get exposures good, but that situation makes the least interesting of shots from a lighting point of view. As you move past the basics there are many options, and many ways for things to not work right, so just remember that, and consider some form of practice.

And if you are able to get the 7D to use, then its built in flash can act as a remote controler for any Canon flash that is compatable, including 430's and 580's. That would mean that you could get the flash off of the camera, and not need to worry about the off camera cord. But sometimes when there is too much sunlight, or it is from the wrong direction, the optical triggering of Canon flashes does not work. Just another thing to worry about. You might be able to get creative and make a tripod and a broom stick in to a light stand for the flash. Most off camera flash is best when the main light is pointing somewhat downward on the subject, and a regular light stand is able to be adjusted to go up a ways higher than a tripod can on its own can. But a stick and some gaffer tape can extend a tripod.



Aug 29, 2012 at 11:03 PM
Roland W
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p.1 #13 · Flash or reflector?


You may want to think of focusing on one particular lighting setup, and learn more about it ahead of time, and have it scouted and tested, and then use it as the main way you shoot that day. An example to consider is to find a place where the background can be in open shade, and thus not too bright, but that your subject can be in the sun with the sun coming in from the back on one side. That sunlight will give you some hair light and some nice effects around the edges of the subjects body. Then use a medium sized white reflector to light the subjects face and shoulders as a main light. That right there could be the whole lighting setup, or you could possibly have her hold a second reflector from the other side or down lower to act as slight fill.

Having some basic "go to" thing that you can use and you have tried is very valuable. Once you have that working on a given shoot, and have some shots done, you can then experiment with other things as the situation and time allows.



Aug 29, 2012 at 11:31 PM
evillemperor
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p.1 #14 · Flash or reflector?


Ronald:
Thank you for your input. When I said I was a newby, I meant at figuring out proper flash power. Since I see the flash can automatically figure out the settings, I feel better now. I did this flash shot with a cheap $30 targus flash. The exposure was manual, and being a cheap flash, I have no way to control the power from it or have slave capabilities. I used a remote shutter, and used BULB.

Water freeze by Ayers Photo, on Flickr
This was more strobe for action, but I have learned about filling light in. I should've said I like shooting from a tripod when I can. I brought my tripod last time and it was an incontinence, I used it only once and I still could've achieved the shots without it. Since she made her boyfriend come last time, I have no doubt he'll come again. The reflector does also have a white side.
Thank you all for posting. I will be practicing and I will update this post after the shoot.



Aug 30, 2012 at 12:17 AM
evillemperor
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p.1 #15 · Flash or reflector?


Well my mom is going to be very nice and buy me the 430 II! Any new tips now?


Aug 31, 2012 at 02:26 AM
BrianO
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p.1 #16 · Flash or reflector?


evillemperor wrote:
Well my mom is going to be very nice and buy me the 430 II! Any new tips now?


It's a very nice Speedlite; I have one along with two 580EXs. It can't act as a Master to wirelessly control slave Speedlites, but other that it has most of the features one needs. (And it can be a slave if and when you get a master-capable flash.)

It's a little less powerful than a 580EX, but it's fine for portraits even when used in a soft box. I've used mine as a key light in a 28" Apollo softbox with a long ETTL cord to control it, and it gave a very nice light from several feet away from the subject.

Here's the ETTL cord I use:

http://www.flashzebra.com/products/0125/index.shtml



Aug 31, 2012 at 07:17 PM
evillemperor
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p.1 #17 · Flash or reflector?


Great! Thank you! I'll be sure to get that! I have the 7D with me this weekend since my teacher is out of town, and I am enjoying it a lot!
EDIT: So this weekend I didn't have much time to play with it, but I did do some portrait work and since my brother didn't want to earn $5, I used Mr Schrute. I used the 100 Macro because it would be similar to me using a 50 since he is much smaller. I didn't use the reflector, and I think I should of. Here are the results:
(Note that the backgrounds were difficult to compose in the shots, so I decided to work on the lighting more. I also Didn't use a tripod until the last one because I wanted to pretend that I was actually shooting.
)

Dwight by Ayers Photo, on Flickr
On this one I should've stopped down some more.

Dwight by Ayers Photo, on Flickr
This one I notice the sunlight under his ear, I'll look out for that next time. Again, I should have stopped down more.

Dwight by Ayers Photo, on Flickr
This one IDK, I just tried for fun. Any thoughts on this one to make it better? The flash was fired off from the left along with the built in flash.
I do see now that using both is a must.



Aug 31, 2012 at 11:46 PM
BrianO
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p.1 #18 · Flash or reflector?


evillemperor wrote:
...Any thoughts on this one to make it better? The flash was fired off from the left along with the built in flash. I do see now that using both is a must.


I wouldn't say it's a must, but it is one option. If you're going to use both, I would suggest setting the ratios so that the built-in flash isn't so strong. It makes a good fill, but the main light should be stronger so you can create some modeling shadows to better-reveal shape.

You should also practice on something larger so you can use the same distances with the same lenses you'll be using on your subject.

If you can't get a live stand-in, a basketball or soccer ball with a cardboard "nose" taped on can help.



Sep 05, 2012 at 08:43 PM
whitewash
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p.1 #19 · Flash or reflector?


^ Or a wig head. Your results will be very different on a life-sized subject compared with a small figure like Mr. Schrute... I mean, a 12-inch reflector to Mr. Schrute would be like an 86" or larger to a real person. You can get a styrofoam head for 5-6 bucks or a more realistic one for under 20. I mount one on a small lightstand for my experiments, and I've found her to be very patient. Only thing she's not good for is catchlights; most heads have those painted in on a matte surface.



Sep 08, 2012 at 05:31 PM
BrianO
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p.1 #20 · Flash or reflector?


whitewash wrote:
...Only thing she's not good for is catchlights; most heads have those painted in on a matte surface.


Too true.

Years ago the New York Institute of Photography included a mannequin head -- named "Shirley" -- with their Professional Photography course (they don't anymore), and it had prepainted "catchlights" in flat-finished eyes. I repainted mine using glossy paint, which helped a little.



Sep 08, 2012 at 06:46 PM
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