Friday Flaming Flash questions...

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Bluepoole, Aug 28, 2009.

  1. Bluepoole

    Bluepoole TPF Noob!

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    OK, I'm now suffering from the effects of information overload...so I'm gonna ask a couple of simple questions, and hopefully you guys could answer them for me in layman terms!

    (Please note my questions are related to indoor shooting only at this stage)

    1. My Canon Speedlite 430EX II's built-in wide panel is there to combat "light falloff" when using wide-angle lenses (could my 17-85mm be considered as wide-angle? Maybe just barely), and has no real ability to soften the flash, right? (With other words, it couldn't be considered as a diffuser)

    2. Bounce cards and Sto-fen omni bounce flash units are really only effective when you are bouncing the flash, right? So when shooting the flash directly it really is of no help?

    3. To minimize the effect of shadows when shooting the flash directly, one should use a flash mounted softbox, or step down the EV compensation of the flash - any other ways? I achieve great results with bounce flash but still need to sort out optimal settings and techiques when bounce is not possible...I'm also not happy with using more than ISO400 so flash is of the essence to me.

    Any comments, corrections or additional explanations would be appreciated!
     
  2. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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  3. PhotoXopher

    PhotoXopher TPF Noob!

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    He says he is suffering from information overload and you send him to strobist.

    :lol:
     
  4. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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    Good point :(

    On the other hand he is asking some questions that can't be answered easily ... he can skip the fluff and should do Strobist Lighting 101 as a start ...
     
  5. SrBiscuit

    SrBiscuit TPF Noob!

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    when indoors...always bounce.:thumbup:
     
  6. musicaleCA

    musicaleCA TPF Noob!

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    Yes and no. I like to think of it as zooming the flash out even more than it's normal range, so you get more coverage. The thing is, you illuminate a larger area with it. So if you're bouncing flash and a wall is close-by, you can indeed soften the light further by using that panel, because you'll illuminate an even larger part of the wall. Generally speaking though, there isn't much need to do this, and you lose a lot of working distance (I understand the pains of not being able to happily go over ISO 800, but with effective use of flash you can manage in even very dark conditions, like clubs; I'll be posting some images soon of my use of bounce flash along with the Presslite Vertex here in a club setting soon, and the wonder is that I didn't venture over ISO 400).

    Kinda? I've noticed that using just a little diffusion when using direct flash can be helpful (again, I just use the Vertex white panels because it's always on my flash). But if you need to throw the light any appreciable distance outdoors, forget about diffusion; you just waste power. Here's an example:

    ISO 100, 63mm, f/4.5, 1/25, 580EXII on ETTL -2

    [​IMG]

    (I know it's not tack sharp. The truck was moving, I was chasing, I was using Av, I didn't dial in the right EV comp, it was just a messy situation; that's my story and I'm sticking to it. :lol: ) For this shot all I did was point the flash head straight forward and let the flash zoom for me. I was working far to fast to bother with zooming the head myself, and it's unnecessary outdoors. Because the appreciable amount of ambient light, the direct flash doesn't look very direct. I set it to ETTL, dialed it back to -2, and let it fill him in for me. The sun is actually to camera left, casting this guy in shadow, but the Speedlite kinda mimics the sun (note the fall-off on his arm; you can also see the hotspot from my flash in his glasses). (And hey, the flash saved the sharpness of my image too when Av borked-up.)

    Forget the softbox. It does nothing useful. Hell, I have a LumiQuest softbox, and after using it for a bit, I just dropped it (in favour of the Vertex). It doesn't even go in the bag anymore. Those things aren't useful outdoors; the best thing you can do is just dial-down the ETTL EV comp, and with Canon the optimal place is around -2, even -3. You probably won't see much difference between -2 and -3, but there's a startling difference between -2 and -1, or even 0, for the same shot outdoors. YIKES! Blown-out subject here we come! (Blown-out subjects, outdoors, with a puny flash? These things are powerful. o_O ) Do that, and then work your settings in M a little the balance the flash and ambient. Naturally, if you're working fast, it's perfectly acceptable to use Av. Av and ETTL gets a little wonky more often than ETTL and M, but hey, you can't have your cake and eat it too.
     
  7. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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    Last edited: Aug 28, 2009
  8. musicaleCA

    musicaleCA TPF Noob!

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    Right; thanks for pointing that out. :D It's true, for macro they can be useful. Most of what I do is of people though, so I didn't think of it. If your subject is much bigger than a few inches, the flash-mounted softbox isn't going to do you much good in terms of softening light. You need an umbrella or other larger diffuser to really see a difference. And then you need to be close. (Again, not something I can attest to doing much of, since a lot of shooting people for me is running-and-gunning...wow, that could be misinterpreted. :lmao: )

    I'm just not a macro kind of guy.
     
  9. Big Mike

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

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    It should say in the manual for your flash, but I believe the panel is only necessary when shooting with something wider than 17 or 18mm. So, no...you probably don't need to use it with your 17-85mm lens.
    And you are correct, it does not soften the light because it neither makes the light source larger nor moves it closer to the subject.
    Correct. If you are shooting directly at your subject, the only improvement is to make the size of the light source larger...by adding a larger diffusion material or a reflection surface. The larger the better...but also more unwieldy.

    When shooting flash 'directly'...you shouldn't see the shadows because they should be directly behind the subject and not visible to your lens. Of course, the more the flash is away from the lens, the more you will see the shadow. With the flash above the lens, the shadows fall behind and below, which is usually OK, but with the camera turned, it casts the shadow to the side, which usually isn't good. This is where a flash bracket comes in handy....to keep the flash above the lens at all times.
    Stepping down the power/exposure of the flash won't solve the problem, unless (by chance) there is enough ambient light to overpower the flash's shadow. A better method would be to lower your shutter speed, allowing more ambient light into the exposure...but it depends on how much ambient light you have.

    You may still need to adjust your FEC (if you are using E-TTL mode) as you go, but that will depend on the reflectivity of your subjects.

    My suggestion is to shoot flash with the camera in manual mode. Adjust the aperture for the DOF you want (the flash power will follow while in E-TTL mode). Then adjust the ISO and shutter speed to control the ambient exposure. Keep in mind that larger apertures and higher ISO levels means that the flash doesn't have to work as hard...saving your batteries and giving you faster recycle times.
     

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