Help on off Camera Canon Flash w/ example

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by B Kennedy, May 8, 2009.

  1. B Kennedy

    B Kennedy TPF Noob!

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    Ok so here goes, this is my first time posting an image online (it should be around 700x900 pixels), I know this isn't the C&C forum, but bear with me as my question is related to off camera flashes.

    The attached photo(hopefully it attaches ;))
    So this was a portrait done on a beach and I used only an on camera 580ex2 flash. As you can see from the exif data, it was shot on manual at f7.1 1/200 sec with the flash at full automatic. Now let me explain the senario, there was wind at my back (in their faces) so my first decision was for them to face into the wind so that their hair was not blowing in front of their faces and I tried to position them in such a way that they were ~45 degrees to the sun. This picture has some post opt work done to it, minimal as I just did a big of cropping, setting white balance, a bit of highlight control, and the obvious, I had to open up the shadows on the sides of their faces.

    My question is this:
    I took the picture with the flash head on. I know the shadows were a bit too dark and I didn't have a reflector (which I'm sure would have been nice). I don't think shooting straight on really helped the situation because im sure it opened up the shadows a bit on one side but i didnt need the brighter highlights. I had a 2nd 580ex2, but I guess I would have just shot my on camera 580 straight up and used it to control the fill? Or should I just look to invest in a receiver/transmitted pocket wizard and use 1 flash?
    Also as a side note, I didnt use any diffuser.
     

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  2. Big Mike

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

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    So what is your question specifically? :scratch:

    When you are thinking about your lighting, you can often break it down to your main (key) light and your fill light. The main light is brighter and is what gives your subjects modeling (it casts shadows). The fill light's purpose is the add light to the shadow area (and/or everything else).

    So your two light sources are the sun and you on-camera flash, is that correct? What you did was use the sun as the main light and the flash for fill. That's probably what I would have done as well. It looks like you did a good job of it, even if it took some post work. The highlights aren't blown and there is plenty of detail in the shadows on their faces...that's what you are looking for.

    Now, you could change it up and use your flash for the main and the sun/ambient light for fill. This is where you would probably want to have the flash off-camera, so that your main light is away from the camera, thus giving shape to your subjects. Now, to do this, you have to 'overpower' the sun. This probably means using a fast shutter speed (1/250 is probably the max sync speed)...then use an aperture small enough to cut down the ambient exposure. The problem then becomes that a smaller aperture requires more flash power...and as you run out of power, your working distance gets smaller.

    If you have two 580s, you could use one as a master, to control the off camera unit...but this system doesn't work all that well when outdoors, especially in bright sunlight. That's where radio triggers come in. The typical radio triggers only give you manual flash control, so you would need to figure out the power/exposure on your own. The newer models can actually let you keep E-TTL with the flash off-camera.
     
  3. B Kennedy

    B Kennedy TPF Noob!

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    I guess really your last paragraph answered my question, as well as great advice, thanks. I was wondering if it would have made a difference to have a off camera flash to the right to work as the fill flash to open up the highlights. What I'm really looking for (like everyone does/try to) is to eliminate the need to be burning/dodging in photoshop, it definitely is a time waster especially on many pictures, so if it were possible I would def have rather used a fill flash/reflector to eliminate that. Attached is the original image and you can see how the shadows are much darker and the highlights too bright (the color was lost in her white dress).

    So i was hoping to use just the off camera flash, maybe since it was so bright, if I had 2 pocket wizards that would enable me to use that then as my fill. That way if I only had (1) 580 then I could have used that on a tripod to the right with the radio trigger. I'm sure this would have been the best setup had I not have an assistant with me? I also have a flash meter on its was to my house from bh photo to help me with the manual settings.

    LOL and you totally had me confused on using the sunlight as my fill. I think this may have worked if the sun was a bit lower and less powerful? If I were to use the sun as my fill would I have positioned them the same way on the beach and just switch up the camera settings?

    Hope this wasn't as confusing:sexywink:
     

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  4. B Kennedy

    B Kennedy TPF Noob!

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    HAHAH Just realized what i forgot to mention, check out the blonde's eyes. Nice little photoshopping there! I could never get her to look at the camera for some reason.
     
  5. fast1

    fast1 TPF Noob!

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    lol now that you mentioned it yea, why couldn't she? [​IMG]
     
  6. Big Mike

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

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    I didn't really emphasize this as much as I should have...because fill light isn't meant to cast shadows, it can be on the camera, which makes it easier for you to work with.
    When you want to use the flash as your main light, that's when it really pays to get it off camera.

    As for using the flash as main...you can have the sun be your fill (or in this case, sunlight bouncing off the sand could be your fill and maybe the direct sunlight could be behind your subjects as a back light. It's something you really need to play with.
     
  7. B Kennedy

    B Kennedy TPF Noob!

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    Thanks Mike, I understand it better now and it is something I have to play around with as I've had many family members/friends wanting family pictures on the beach. I'll have to con my GF into a day down the shore so I can practice on her and a night on the town!
     

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