Flash Noob
/forum/topic/1062833/0



Travis Pavek
Registered: Dec 12, 2006
Total Posts: 33
Country: United States

Hi all

I am awaiting the arrival of my 430EX II (bought from a fellow FMer) and have a flash noob questions. In a couple of weeks I will be doing my first real shoot of a client (not really though just friend of my sister). It will consist of some in home and outside shots of their two children and a couple with the parents as well. Should I just learn how to bounce the light from ceiling and wall first or should I go straight to off camera with an umbrella? When shooting outside how many of you actually bring out some kind of light modifier opposed to just using the flash straight on for fill light?

Thanks
Travis



alohadave
Registered: Jul 26, 2005
Total Posts: 843
Country: United States

Start here: http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101.html

Then here: http://strobist.blogspot.com/2007/06/lighting-102-introduction.html

Read them, and do the exercises.



Travis Pavek
Registered: Dec 12, 2006
Total Posts: 33
Country: United States

Dave - Thanks for the links. Those seem to be more geared at off camera flash. Are you suggesting not to start with bounce and go straight to off camera?



alohadave
Registered: Jul 26, 2005
Total Posts: 843
Country: United States

Travis Pavek wrote:
Dave - Thanks for the links. Those seem to be more geared at off camera flash. Are you suggesting not to start with bounce and go straight to off camera?


No, the principles mostly apply to on-camera flash as well. Depending on your camera model, you can get your flash off camera to try both.



cgardner
Registered: Nov 18, 2002
Total Posts: 9376
Country: United States

The most important factor in making flash lit shots look natural is matching the angle natural light hits faces most of the time an average 45 downward angle.

Flash in the hot shoe winds up at a lower angle, especially in portrait mode, causing the lighting to create flatter light with fewer shadow clues about 3D shape and highlight clues much lower on the cheeks, chin, etc. that natural light. Hence it looks "fake" because its too low relative to the face.

Bounce is a solution but you need to watch the angle the light comes off the ceiling. If it gets too steep the brow will shade the eye look critically at the eyes to make sure they are as bright in the sockets as the cheeks. Getting up above the faces and having the people look up will help get the bounced light into the eyes.

Bouncing is very inefficient because 80% if the light will be illuminating things not in the photo. A better alternative is a bracket and diffuser...





See: http://photo.nova.org/CanonPracticalUsage/

The bracket works by creating that natural downward angle mentioned above. With the bracket changing the it is not necessary to bounce to do it so you can direct all the light forward more efficiently for greater range / shorter recycle times.

The diffuser is useful outdoors where bounce isn't an option, but the diffuser will also cut range. Outdoor if you are on ground level with the subject eye-to-eye their brows will shade the eye sockets as with bounce indoors. The solution is the same. Find something 1-2 feet high to stand on and have them up into the camera. Obviously this works best when the sun is at their backs.

Direct flash will also work OK outdoors if you position in so it is not creating shadows visible by the camera. If you don't have a bracket keeping the flash in landscape mode and above the lens will produce more flattering lighting than portrait mode with it low and off the side of the lens.

Moving a single flash off axis will create better modeling via the shadows it creates but if you also don't have a fill source the shadows will be so dark and unflattering it may trump the better modeling. As shown in the link the better solution as a 580ex class master on the bracket as fill controlling the tone of shadows the off camera slave created. That gives you total control of the two most important elements: pattern and tone (i.e. lighting ratio). For women and kids lighter shadows are more flattering than heavy dark ones.


BrianO
Registered: Aug 21, 2008
Total Posts: 8551
Country: United States

Travis Pavek wrote: ...Should I just learn how to bounce the light from ceiling and wall first or should I go straight to off camera with an umbrella? When shooting outside how many of you actually bring out some kind of light modifier opposed to just using the flash straight on for fill light?

For "formal" portraits, indoors or out, I'll often use an umbrella or softbox on one light and a dish or other modifier on another. If I only have one light, I'll usually bounce.

For informal portraits, candids, and such indoors, I usually use on-camera flash, either bounced or direct, and usually the flash is on a bracket. (I still consider that "on-camera.") Sometimes I'll use a second (or more) flash in wireless mode.

Outdoors, informals and candids are almost always on-camera direct. I have a taller-than-average bracket for outdoor use that gives the kind of highlight/shadow modeling I like. My flash head is almost two feet above the lens axis with this bracket.