Bounce flash at a party

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Scruggelgreen, May 2, 2010.

  1. Scruggelgreen

    Scruggelgreen TPF Noob!

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    Hello all,
    This is my first post here, but i have been in Photography for about 4 years now. Most of that time has been outdoor landscape photography. However a few days ago i tried taking some photos at my great uncles birthday party in a really nice banquet hall. This was a good opportunity to use bounce flash for my first time. My hot shoe flash has i-TTL (Nikon) and a swivel head on it. The problem i was having is that some of my pictures would come out very nice, and very soft well lit skin tones, but others would be super dark, like there was no flash at all.

    My question is how would other photographers on this site set the settings on there camera to best deal with this lighting situation.

    What metering mode would you use?

    How would you set your auto-focus?

    When using the bounce flash do you angle it straight up or angle it slightly at the person?

    Do you use manual flash zoom or automatic zoom mode on the flash unit?

    Please feel free to mention any other settings that i didnt specifically ask for to!

    In this situation i was using: Nikon D3000 with AF-S 18-55mm lens, and my sunpak PZ42X flash unit.

    Thanks to everyone in advance!
     
  2. ghache

    ghache TPF Noob!

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    I use matrix or spot meetering depending on the situation and the light.
    I always set my auto focus on af-a and usually choose my focus point
    for the flash bounce, depends how far i am from the subjet angles.
    i also use a bounce card (to create a fill light)
    i use automatic zoom on the flash
     
  3. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    In this situation, I almost always shoot in manual mode, although I leave my flash in E-TTL (Canon).

    I set the aperture based on the DOF I want, keeping in mind that a larger aperture gives me more ambient exposure and allows the flash to use less power. I set the shutter speed to get the ambient exposure I want (shutter speed doesn't affect flash exposure), keeping in mind that the flash can help to freeze the subject, but too much ambient light can still cause blur.
    I set the ISO as high as I dare, to get more ambient exposure and to let the flash use less power (for faster recycle times and longer battery life).

    The aim is usually to get a nice balance between flash & ambient exposures.
     
  4. mrpink

    mrpink No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Bounce cards work well in these situations.




    p!nK
     
  5. ghache

    ghache TPF Noob!

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    i have this bounce card
    [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Aurora-Quick-Bounce-Mount-Flashes/dp/B0031BMOQS"]Amazon.com: Aurora MINI/MAX QBC (Quick Bounce Card) 5 x 6" Bounce Card for Shoe Mount Flashes: Camera & Photo[/ame]
    i paid around 8 bucks.


    and it works really well,
    can be noticable since you have and external flash + bounce card, you have like a 2 feet high camera! lol
     
  6. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Did the hall have a flat ceiling or peaked ceiling?
     
  7. Scruggelgreen

    Scruggelgreen TPF Noob!

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    The ceiling was flat, about 10 feet up, and had a few large "Squares" where the ceiling was about 12 feet tall. It tried to avoid shooting into the edge of on of the "Squares" so that way the bounce should be even.
     
  8. Scruggelgreen

    Scruggelgreen TPF Noob!

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    Does using the auto zoom on the flash ever mis-calculate the flash "Cone" required? I was just thinking that since i know that the bouncing effect changes the distance between you and your subject. I could be completely wrong too though.........
     
  9. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    The zoom is tied to the focal length of the lens.

    At wide angle focal length the speedlight projects a wider beam to match. When you zoom in, the beam gets narrower.

    At 18 mm the beam stays the same width regardless how far you are from your subject. It only changes if you change the focal length of the lens.

    If you have the speedlight in a TTL mode it varies the power of the flash based on the reflection of pre-flashes off the subject.

    Most who use strobed light alot, just put everything in manual, because the camera doesn't really know what it is you're taking a picture of, or what you want for a final image. In other words, in automatic and semi-automatic modes, the camera will frequently make decisions you won't like.
     
  10. Scruggelgreen

    Scruggelgreen TPF Noob!

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    So after reading all of your comments (Thank you very much by the way) i decided to go home and try some of these ideas out. I stacked up a few boxes in my garage with a 2 foot tall Halloween guy standing on the top. I then turned on various lights and tried some of the techniques out. I think the biggest thing i screwed up at the party was not changing my metering mode. It makes all the sense in the world now why i need to do that, but i didn't before. This drastically made my pictures better. I then played around with the ISO settings and looked at what effect i was getting. SO thank you to everyone who commented! This really helped me out.
     
  11. Dallmeyer

    Dallmeyer TPF Noob!

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    I have three flashguns for bounce. All are 1980's with tabular computers on the top/back. I set my flashgun to M - manual, use the computer to get my settings in manual ( distance to ceiling and back down again with a couple of feet added for absorbtion (?). With a flash in the shoe my camera only allows me to shoot 1/60-1/200. if the shot is over exposed I just up the shutter speed or stop down..in most houses i'm already shooting at f8-f11 and standing within a few feet of my subject.

    By the way - what are these red.green.blue filters with these flashguns? I've never ever bothered to try them (maybe when i was a kid ? not in my memory anyway)

    Are they for monochrome - like filters for B&W or are they to correct color temperature?
     

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