Fill flash in relation to DOF and harsh lighting

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by AMOMENT, Apr 11, 2012.

  1. AMOMENT
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    AMOMENT New Member

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    If I pop up my flash for fill flash and turn it down some I can get some good fill in to my shadows during times when it is unavoidable. But, isn't almost always using your pop up flash a recipe for an awful photo somewhat? If I pop it up indoors or at night, won't I still get that "flash" look that you get; the "deer in headlights" look?

    If I pop up my flash and turn down my ISO a bit so that I can lower my aperture to create a shallower depth of field, I still, because of the added light, cannot get a blurred enough background. Distancing my subject from the background helps but it's not the same. Any advice on fill flash/DOF/and pretty lighting when additional light is needed?

    I do own the SB700 but have not mastered it
  2. Mach0
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    Flash settings in the menu and set the built in flash to manual. Then adjust the power as you need it. Also, light wouldn't play a role in DOF. Your focal length and aperture will.
  3. Ysarex
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    Ysarex Well-Known Member

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    Built-in or pop up flash :thumbdown: !

    I'm retired now, but when I taught full-time I had a display in the lab for my students. I went to Goodwill and bought a $5.00 camera that had a built-in flash. I got a 6 inch spike and a hammer and I nailed it to the wall through the built-in flash. It was there for many years. I put a sign on the wall underneath it suggesting that this was the only appropriate thing to do with a flash that's physically part of the camera. Then I told my students if they gave me photos taken with a flash that was part of the camera I'd give them an F, a 6 inch spike and let them borrow my hammer.

    Joe
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  4. TCampbell
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    TCampbell Well-Known Member

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    This completely depends on how you use fill flash. What you want is a low "flash contribution" from the fill flash... say about 20-30%. This "weakens" the shadows without over-powering the main source of light and creating either a flat look, harsh look, or shadows of it's own.

    If you don't have a dedicated flash meter that reports "flash contribution" then just put the flash on manual and dial it back so that it's strong enough to weaken the shadows but not so strong that it can eliminate them.

    The presence of shadows exposes the 3D nature of a subject. No shadows causes a subject to look more 2D (hence "flat"). So you want to make sure you don't eliminate them.
  5. TCampbell
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    TCampbell Well-Known Member

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    "Then I told my students if they gave me photos taken with a flash that was part of the camera I'd give them an F, a 6 inch spike and let them borrow my hammer."

    I USUALLY despise the built-in pop-up flash... but not always. And using this as a fill to reduce the strength of shadows is one of the few things it's actually good at.

    I JUST went through this exercise with someone the week before last. They had a Canon G series with the built-in flash. They made the comment that a built-in flash is awful and good for nothing -- hated flash in general -- and explained that of course everything looks better in natural light. I asked them to hand me their camera. It was approaching sunset so I had them turn and face me so the sun is lighting half of their face with shadow on the other. I took one photo without the flash and one photo with -- then handed it back. That was the end of that argument.

    That shot completely changed their mind about natural light being better and also about the built-in flash being worthless. However... you are USUALLY right and any decent photographer will have a much better flash. And of course when the flash is smaller than your pinky fingernail don't expect it to work on subjects more than a few feet away.
  6. IgsEMT
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    IgsEMT New Member

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    Pop up flash sux. HOWEVER :) in a pinch, its great. Often when I'm already packed, walking out the door, someone would ask me for that one last picture, that is when the pop up flash would come in handy. Another instance, at least w/ me, is if I have a prime lens attached and I'm out in the park w/ my kids I'd use the pop up flash. Only reason why prime (and it depends on the lens) is b/c my primes are shorter then zoom lenses.
    Also on Nikons, pop up flash serves as a commander, when I'm having family get-together; I set up 2-3 speedlights around (definitely smaller then ABs) and fire away in commander mode. This pop up flash, is the only reason why I'm hesitant of jumping into D# series bodies (in a pinch, they do the job).
  7. 2WheelPhoto
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    2WheelPhoto New Member

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    I feel like breaking the pop-up off of my D700, worthless for anything except trashing images
  8. IgsEMT
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    IgsEMT New Member

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    Funny you say that. I bought D700 over D3 for the reason alone.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2012
  9. TCampbell
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    I have a 5D II. It doesn't have a pop-up flash. There are a few "pro" cameras that actually DO have pop-up flashes though. Then I noticed something I hadn't thought of.... I have a tilt-shift lens. If a camera has a pop-up flash, the flash over-hangs the lens just enough that the tilt-shift / perspective-control lens actually constrains some of the positions of the lens -- particularly with respect to "shift". It's enough of a problem that I consider a pop-up flash on any pro-level DSLR to be a serious design flaw. Not only is the flash not particularly useful... it's in the way.
  10. fokker
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    fokker Well-Known Member

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    But, if there is too much light then you can't open the aperture all the way up, even at a low ISO. The only way to get around this is to use ND filters. I still haven't figured out why cameras don't come with lower ISO's, I know they will make more noise, but so do high ISO's and they still get used. It's better to have the option in a pinch.
  11. Mach0
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    Aside from that lol. Gotta love HSS and ND filters.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2012
  12. DiskoJoe
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    Use the sb-700 and bounce the flash of the wall in the direction of the side you want to fill to accentuate. A diffuser for your pop up lens would not hurt. YOu could try using off camera flash since you have a flash. If you have not mastered it then read up on it. Its not hard at all and can yield good result in bad lighting conditions. As for the depth of field you would have to state more specific info about what aperture you are using and maybe an example of what sort of depth of field you are trying to achieve.
  13. Mach0
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    This!
    Pick up a an umbrella, light stand, and trigger set. It will go a longgggggggg way.
  14. DiskoJoe
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    as pop up flashes go the Nikon ones are probably the best. Just saying.
  15. AMOMENT
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    AMOMENT New Member

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    I know that light doesn't play a role but with a pop up flash and more light, you tend to have to use a higher aperture. I do set my flash to at least 1/2 ....is that correct?

    thanks =)
  16. Mach0
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    Depends. However much to lift the shadows some.
  17. AMOMENT
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    AMOMENT New Member

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    LOL. I feel the same about the pop up flash. It's awful! I generally always hate the look. There is enver anything artistic about the lighting. So, what would you suggest for fill flash that is easily moved and portable? (say for moving children....fast moving children ;) I could use my SB700 but oudoors, what would you bounce the light off of?
  18. 2WheelPhoto
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    It was mentioned above to perfection:

  19. AMOMENT
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    AMOMENT New Member

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  20. KmH
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    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish

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    Most CowboyStudio gear isn't worth the money. It's mainly just CPOS gear that has little durability.
    StudioHut 4 channel Wireless Radio Hot Shoe Flash Trigger Kit for Canon EOS, Nikon, Olympus & Pentax Flashes with 2 Receivers
    Strobist Umbrella Holder with Hot Shoe Mount
    Westcott 750 Photo Basics 7.0-Foot Light Stand
    43" Collapsible Optical White Satin Umbrella with Removable Black Cover

    Harsh light is a characteristic of a small light source, be it on, or off the camera. Hot shoe mounted flash units do little better than the built-in flash does if the light from the hot shoe mounted flash is not modified.
    Photographers use light modifiers like bouncing a hot shoe flash, or OCF (off camera flash) and umbrellas to make small light sources seem much, much larger so they produce softer light, and diffuse shadow edges.

    Using the flash in manual mode, the lens aperture controls the exposure of the strobed light (flash) and the shutter speed controls the exposure of the ambient light.

    The in-the-camera light meter essentially become useless.

    When using a wide lens aperture that gives a shallow DoF, less flash exposure is needed for fill. If you're making a portrait of just 1 person 1/8 power may be enough.
    As lens aperture gets smaller, flash power has to be increased to give the same exposure, assuming the same subject and subject distance.

    Nikon's Auto FP sync mode may need to be used to get a quick enough shutter speed to get the ambient light exposure where you want it. IIRC the built-in flash is not Auto-FP sync capable.

    Auto-FP sync introduces it's own problems. Most noteable is that flash power gets seriously reduced since the flash has to fire many times during a single exposure.

    Using flash adds a level of complexity to doing photography, and haveing a good understanding of how the camera works is very, very handy.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 11, 2014

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