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Archive 2013 · 2 x 600EX in softbox. What to expect?
  
 
Rickuz
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · 2 x 600EX in softbox. What to expect?


So, Im about to take my first serious step into the world of flash photography, and I am trying to figure out what I can expect from two 600EX speedlites in an Apollo-style softbox.

I am planning to use this setup outside in daylight, just to soften things up and to cut away the harsh shadows from my subjects. I am not interested in "overpowering" the sun, and stuff like that. All I want to do is to even out the sunlight, and also to have a great key light during late afternoons.

What kind of results can I expect from a dual 600EX softbox? Will this setup deliver enough power for me, or should I go for something with a little more kick?

The reason I am interested in this setup is because it is "ultra portable", and also "splitable". I already have one 600EX and the ST-E3-RT transmitter.

Share your thoughts.

Edited on Jun 10, 2013 at 04:43 PM · View previous versions



Jun 10, 2013 at 02:07 PM
Mark_L
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · 2 x 600EX in softbox. What to expect?


I like the apollo softbox, very even directional light due to deep 'bounce' design but it isn't the most efficient modifier going. For your use you'll probably be fine with two speedlights in it though, from testing that is something like equiv to 140ws in strobe terms. If you want to shoot full lengths or more than one person you may need an umbrella for more coverage.

One thing you may notice quite quickly depending on what you shoot is recycle time. Much of the time I don't use much more power than a speedlight could give outside but they just cannot recycle fast enough to keep up with a good fashion model. If this is an issue look a powerpacks but be careful you don't melt your speedlights!

Most people who start down the road of lighting read strobist and go overboard resulting in overlit pictures so nice to hear someone that isn't. Flash won't remove harsh shadows though, all it will do is fill them and make them less dark; consider having the sun to their backs (so you get no shadows) and then using a bit of flash to create some direction to the light.



Jun 10, 2013 at 04:43 PM
cgardner
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · 2 x 600EX in softbox. What to expect?


I'm not sure you understand the cause and effect of shooting outdoors with flash.

Sun makes a lousy "key" light on faces so the better strategy is keep the sun directly behind the subject acting as "hair" light the first pose the faces up into the dominant direction of the skylight (from overhead). Getting the sunlit parts exposed below clipping is a process of first setting the shutter at the sync limit (e.g. 1/250th @ ISO100) then adjusting the aperture until skin and white clothing in hit by the sun are below clipping (typically around f/9-f/11). Then without flash you have correctly exposed "hair light" but faces which are too dark.







At that point you light the faces with flash just as you might indoors with Key and Fill flashes. Here's the example above with chin level fill added:







It adds detail to the front but doesn't model the 3D shape of the face naturally. To the extent there is 3D modeling on the face and dress it's from the stronger downward directional vector of the skylight. Now here's addition of the second "key" flash in front, centered and overhead:







If I had just used a single raised flash (or two in the same modifier) I would have gotten similar highlights, but the shadows filled only by the sideways vectors of the skylight would be darker as in this single flash on bracket shot outdoors:







A single flash strategy can work for full face shots because in a full face flash shot when flash is raised on the bracket very few areas of the face are shaded by the flash. But you'll note that areas like under the chin where only the skylight from the sides reached have dark shadows.

Specular reflections on skin are the mirror image of the light source. The smaller the source the more they become a problem, especially when it is hot and the subjects skin is damp or oily. For comparison of how modifier size affects appearance a shot taken indoors a few minutes later with exactly the same gear, two 580ex flashes in a centered vertical arrangement. But there I bounced the "key" light off the ceiling and down instead of putting a modifier on it because it was simpler, created more diffusion and eliminated the hot spot problem:







The modfier used was the DIY creation on the right in the photo below:







The main things to take away from these examples is that except for full face shots outdoors a two flash key over fill strategy is needed control lighting ratio on the front of the subject when the sun is placed behind. So if you do buy the second 600EX-RT you'd be better off deploying them that way than both in a single SB in sunlight.

In terms of modifier size they need to get large relative to the head to reduce hot spots. The problem with using big modifiers outdoors is having enough power to fill them and keeping them upright in the wind. If you plan on doing portraiture for hire professionally the better gear for the job would be a pair of Buff Einsteins with battery / inverter.



Jun 10, 2013 at 06:31 PM
khwaja
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · 2 x 600EX in softbox. What to expect?


yeah, it should work pretty well.

p.s here in India, i have to use 4 in a softbox to overpower the sun in the summer




Jun 10, 2013 at 06:58 PM
 

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Rickuz
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · 2 x 600EX in softbox. What to expect?


Thanks for the info guys! I appreciate it.

Cheers



Jun 12, 2013 at 11:54 AM
BrianO
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · 2 x 600EX in softbox. What to expect?


Mark_L wrote:
...Flash won't remove harsh shadows though, all it will do is fill them and make them less dark...


That would depend on the direction and intensity of the flash, direction and intensity of the ambient light, camera settings, etc. It's possible to use flash to give very flat, shadowless lighting if one wants to, although it's probably not going to produce an attractive image most of the time.



Jun 15, 2013 at 03:46 PM
Mark_L
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · 2 x 600EX in softbox. What to expect?


BrianO wrote:
That would depend on the direction and intensity of the flash, direction and intensity of the ambient light, camera settings, etc. It's possible to use flash to give very flat, shadowless lighting if one wants to, although it's probably not going to produce an attractive image most of the time.


Unless ambient is totally overpowered the shadows will still be there just filled. You can't selectively light shadows.



Jun 15, 2013 at 04:11 PM
BrianO
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · 2 x 600EX in softbox. What to expect?


Mark_L wrote:
Unless ambient is totally overpowered the shadows will still be there just filled.


Yep, that's one way to do it.

Mark_L wrote:
...You can't selectively light shadows.


Speak for yourself. Maybe you can never selectively light shadows, but I sometimes can. (It depends on the lighting pattern.)



Jun 15, 2013 at 04:27 PM





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