Flash advice

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by BroMiCs, Aug 6, 2010.

  1. BroMiCs

    BroMiCs TPF Noob!

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    I need some advice about using a flash,
    I have nothing but bad luck with flash photography.
     
  2. dxqcanada

    dxqcanada Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    What problems have you encountered ?
     
  3. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I need advice about picking up women.
    I had nothing but bad luck when trying to take them home after calling them dirty whores.

    :mrgreen:

    Off camera, remote, umbrella, done?

    On camera, pointed up, fong dong on top?

    Under the wheel of your car, ran over, smashed into little bits?

    We need something more generic than that to go on, but I have a feeling that you probably don't know what you're doing. I'm betting this may help:
    Strobist: Lighting 101
     
  4. clanthar

    clanthar TPF Noob!

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    Hi,

    The size of your flash is really important. Lighting contrast is a function of the size of the light source. If you're photographing people and you don't want them to look like Frankenstein you need to avoid really small light sources. How small is too small? If you increased by a factor of 10 any flash that is physically part of any modern camera it would be way too small.

    The direction of the flash light is really important. We are accustomed to seeing ourselves lit from above. We don't put the office lights on the wall five feet up from the floor and point them into the room. You've seen photos and films that show photographers with flash equipment mounted on stands 8 to 10 feet up and pointed down. It's a lot of trouble to do that; must be a reason. The one place you really don't want to put the flash is anywhere close to the lens (there are rare exceptions).

    Now you're looking at the hard to see because it's so small flash built into the body of your camera and two inches from the lens. That's a formula for bad flash photos. You must understand that in the consumer photo market there is no reasonable alternative and a bad flash photo is better than no photo. The marketing dept. isn't going to allow the sales dept. to sell those cameras and tell the truth. I have one of those cameras and it takes great photos. It has one of those ridiculous flash units built into it. I couldn't tell you if it works. When I need to take flash photos I use a camera that allows me to cable an external flash to the camera and raise the flash high above the camera.

    So there it is. That doesn't give you much in the way of positive steps to take but now you know. Here's some things to consider when you have to use a camera with a built-in flash.

    The light from a flash falls off over distance in compliance with the inverse square law. In practice what that means is that you can't get good flash photos with a single flash into any substantial depth. Think of the bride's table at a wedding reception. The mistake is to approach from one of the table ends to take the photo. In this case the wedding party stretches away from you in 3D space. A flash will overexpose the people close to you and underexpose the people at the other end -- disaster. The correct solution is to approach the table from the center. When you see that your subject stretches away from you through distance, flash won't work.

    One of the obvious problems with flash units that are close to the camera lens is red eye -- a direct reflection from the subject's retina. Many modern cameras are equipped with some variant of a stupid red eye reduction scheme that either doesn't work or causes worse problems (the marketing dept. again). The easy solution is to have your subjects avoid looking directly at the camera lens. Hold the camera steady in one hand with your finger on the release. Then hold out you other hand making a right angle with you elbow. Tell your subjects -- don't look at the camera, look at my hand -- click.

    As mentioned above the size of the light source determines lighting contrast. A built-in camera flash is way too small and so the lighting contrast is way too high. When possible you can counter this problem by controlling what you subject's wear. A white tee shirt is the wrong article of clothing. Avoid either extreme of white or black.

    Take Care,
    Joe
     
  5. Flash Harry

    Flash Harry TPF Noob!

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    This is digital, you immediately see the results unlike with film, if its overexposed, stop down the lens, underexposed, open up the lens, its all to do with distance/aperture/flash power, as another poster said read up on inverse square law and you might just get it, read your flash and camera manual fully too, if its too much for you stick everything on auto and take what your given. H
     
  6. BroMiCs

    BroMiCs TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the info guys.

    I thought it was just the built in flash that sucked but my father gave me his external flash to use and I don't seem to get much more out of it.

    It isn't new by any standards, but It was probably worth a few bucks when it was new maybe 15 years ago, maybe a bit more.
    There are a bunch of settings on it, and I don't really know how they effect the flash. There is no manual for it anymore.

    The problems I seem to be havin are that the photo's seem way to harsh or not bright at all. Things just don't look realistic.
    I have a friend who is a photographer and she uses her flash on pretty much everything she shoots, and nothing looks harsh. I tried aiming it up like I see her do all the time and the top half of my pix are bright and the bottom half are dark

    Is a light diffuser a must?
     
  7. Flash Harry

    Flash Harry TPF Noob!

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    You need to know how to use the gun, online search is your friend, simply bouncing flash will not do the job unless you know how far/high the ceiling is related to flash power/distance to subject, including the bounce, and setting an aperture relative to this distance/power output. H
     
  8. Scatterbrained

    Scatterbrained Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    If you are using a hot shoe flash you really need to learn bounce techniques. Check out planet neil, the guy is a wedding photog who excels at using on camera flash. You could also try "On Camera Flash Techniques for Digital Wedding and Portrait Photography" by the same guy (Neil Van Niekerk). Add to that David Hobby's blog "Strobist" (as was linked to earlier) and you've got more info than you need. BTW, a light diffuser is not a must, the only things I currently run on my flash are the bounce card and wide panel that are built in. I always try to find something to bounce the flash off of and I tend to use my hand as a half snoot, works fine.
     
  9. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Everything I'm going to talk about is about using the flash off camera. A setup can be purchased for cheap and getting the flash off camera is a must in order to acheive the look you see from probably most other good photographs that use a flash.

    We'll start with soft vs. hard. A light diffuser is not a must, but knowing the difference between soft light and hard light and knowing what you want in a photo is needed to get the results desired.

    Hard:
    [​IMG]

    Soft:
    [​IMG]

    The photo with the hard light was done with a flash with no diffuser. The light source is small; it's the size of the flash head. A small light source creates a hard light. Hard light is characterized by the hard and sharply defined edges on the shadows. You can really bring out texture this way, but you can also show flaws that you wouldn't see with a hard light. Hard light is not the enemy. It can be used effectively. It just usually looks like crap when you get a hard light from an on axis light source like a pop up flash.

    Soft light requires a large light source. A diffuser catches the light and spreads it out creating a large light source. Soft light creates sof shadow edges. There were several lights used in the second photo, but the main light is one off camera speed light with a shoot through umbrella, creating the nice soft light with barely any shadow on the subject.

    As for taking a picture with the flash and having half of the image dark, that really sounds like you have too high of a shutter speed. Most cameras have a maximum sync speed (also shown as "x sync") with which they can produce an image that is completely illuminated by the flash. Most DSLRs are at about 1/160-1/250 for the x sync. Your camera's manual will tell you what the x sync for your camera is. If you are shooting with a flash faster than the x sync of the camera a black line will appear where the shutter is cutting off the flash exposure.

    Another less likely reason you're getting the hlaf exposed photos would be light fall off. Your flash would have to be very very weak for this to happen though. Post some examples for a definite answer.

    What camera and what flash do you own. Getting a cheap set of triggers, a light stand, adapter, and umbrella could run you as little as $95 for everything.
     
  10. BroMiCs

    BroMiCs TPF Noob!

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    I am using a Canon T2i (550D) and an older Vivitar Flash. (Don't remember the model) I will post some expamples and get the actual flash model tonight when I get home from work.
     
  11. BroMiCs

    BroMiCs TPF Noob!

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    Oh, pointing it up is bouncing the flash?
    I figured it would just give off light from a higher angle

    See I know nothing about flash photograpy.. :grumpy:
     
  12. gsgary

    gsgary Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Harry don't be so silly you only have to buy a nice camera stick a flash on and it should work all by itself you shouldn't have to set it for different conditions :lol:
     

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