Flash Questions

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Naicidrac, Nov 2, 2006.

  1. Naicidrac

    Naicidrac TPF Noob!

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    I am trying some new effects working with a Nikon speedlight SB-24. I took about 100 photos trying different combinations and had no luck. I did learn a little though so that is always good. My goal is to try to get some neat still life shots using my flash. I wrapped some paper towels over the flash to diffuse the light, and I also bounced light off of foamcore. Like I said I changed the flash so many ways and I never really got the light I was looking for. I guess I am just looking for a place to start with flash photography. I just don't want to turn my camera on automatic and take it with a flash because everything to me is over exposed. I did learn that RAW files are much lighter on the computer than on the back of my camera, and Jpegs look the same. I am using a nikon D80 with an speedlight sb-24. Thanks for any help that you guys can offer on getting soft lighting effects with a flash.
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    Firstly, don't judge your exposure by how the image looks on the back of the camera. Set the LCD to show you the histogram and use that to determine your exposure.

    Without knowing more about what mode and setting you were using...and without seeing the images...it's hard to tell what is happening. You should be able to control the amount of flash exposure by using FEC (flash exposure compensation).

    For still life...you will probably want to move the light off of the camera. Even diffuse light will look flat, if it's coming from the same location as the camera.
     
  3. Naicidrac

    Naicidrac TPF Noob!

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    Thanks Big Mike, like I said I tried so many different combinations with my flash anc camera, but as far as settings on my camera I had the aperture wide open and changing the ss did nothing. On the flash I changed the zoom back and forth. I don't know a whole lot about the sb-24 since I barrowed it, but I did change the intensity of the flash from 1/1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16 with 1/16 being the least intense. I guess what I can do is post pictures and tell the settings I had and go from there. See what I did was look at wonderful pictures in the forums and I am trying to understand how they took them by taking my own pictures. Thanks for the help.
     
  4. W.Smith

    W.Smith TPF Noob!

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    That will only produce less light, hardly 'diffuse' it.
    It depends on what you want to light, Naicidrac. For e.g. a small still life, the SB-24 via a proper reflector* can create an adequate soft light. For portraits, if you want to soften through/with an umbrella or via a reflector, you may want more 'oomph' than the 118GN of your SB-24.

    To soften on-camera flash you may want to experiment with a [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNCmuExlHvM"]bounce card[/ame].

    *wrinkle alu foil good, then stretch carefully, then spray-glue (the 'dull' side) onto your foamcore, flatten well.
     
  5. Big Mike

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

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    That's a great way to learn. Keep it up.

    Sounds like maybe you need to do some reading up on flash photography. It can be tricky to understand...and darn hard to perfect.

    Shutter speed has no effect on the exposure from the flash. (as long as the shutter speed does not go higher than the camera's sync speed). The flash burst is very fast...much faster than the shutter...so it won't matter if the shutter is at 1/180...or at 5 seconds...if the flash burst is still the same...the flash exposure will still be the same. (Shutter speed when used with flash, can be used to control the amount of ambient exposure. With a faster shutter, less of the background will be exposed by the ambient light...a longer shutter speed will allow more 'background' exposure)

    The aperture, however...will have an effect on how much flashed light gets onto the exposure. If you flash output is constant (manual mode on flash, if you have it)...then you can adjust the amount of flash exposure by adjusting the aperture.

    Now, what I don't know...is if your flash is communicating with your camera. If it is (most likely, being both Nikon)...then your flash output will change when you change the aperture. So if you set the aperture to F4 the flash will output enough light for an F4 exposure. If you change the aperture...then the flash will follow suit, until it reaches it's maximum output.

    If your flash has a manual setting, then you can use that...and the output should be it's maximum every time...so you can adjust the aperture to get the exposure you want.

    Also, with dedicated flash units and cameras (Nikon on Nikon etc)...they will act differently, depending on the shooting mode you are in. If you are in auto mode, the flash act as the main light...if you are in aperture priority, the camera will tell the flash to act as fill and incorporate the ambient light, if there is enough. I'm not sure if that is how yours works...that's the way Canon does it.
     
  6. Naicidrac

    Naicidrac TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for all of this great information. I do not have very specific questions yet, but now I have a better direction. Thanks W. Smith for the video, I will make one tonight and practise with it. I will also take some test shots and get more input from you guys. Also Big Mike thanks again for the help. The flash does communicate with my Nikon 8008 film camera, but so far it does not communicate with the D80. I know what you are talking about because it changes when I change the aperture on the 8008. There could be some setting I have to change, but I thought since the flash was quite a bit older than the D80 then they could not communicate. Now I can experiment and find what I like, but from what you said Big Mike, I should adjust the aperture on the camera and keep the flash at full power? I can adjust the intensity of the flash, but like I said I will experiment and let you guys know and when I have questions I will ask. Thanks for all the awesome help guys, and for getting me in a direction.
     
  7. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Soft lighting is produced by making the source of the light larger with respect to the subject. A cloudy day produces soft light and shadows because the whole sky becomes the source rather than just the disc of the sun. So you want to enlarge the light source.

    Bouncing the flash from a piece of white foam core should get you headed in the right direction. Basically, you don't want the flash unit pointed at the subject at all unless you have something between it and the subject that will enlarge the source (such as softbox.)

    This little light tent pictured below is what I use for small product photography. You can see that I use two flash units to light the tent which, in turn, lights the subject which is inside the tent. This way the light source completely surrounds the subject and there are no shadows at all. Keep working at it. We all learn by doing.

    [​IMG]
     

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