Importance of a flash?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Kofman13, Jun 20, 2010.

  1. Kofman13

    Kofman13 TPF Noob!

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    I go to a music college and i've been doing headshots and candids for fellow students for some time. And I never used flash. But I always was lucky with lighting or had to almost always do outdoors and check forcasts constantly and schedule shoots on good weather days.
    In the last few days I got contacted by about 4 potential clients and I'm thinking. Is the the time to get a flash? Like an sb600 or something? I always charged either nothting or very little and I'm getting alot better to the point where people insist paying more than I ask for so I've moved my rates up a little. So I'm charging more now and perhaps my pictures should have a heightened level of professionalism? What do you think ?
     
  2. Vinny

    Vinny TPF Noob!

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    I guess some people don't like to use flash for whatever reason but it is a great investment if you are shooting people or indoors. Currently all I have is the pop up flash that comes on the D90 and it's OK for what I use it for but I would look for a bounce type flash that can accept diffusers and possibly a white card at 90ยบ for a less direct light.

    Bounce is great for indoors sometimes and is not good at times (colored ceilings or ceiilings that are too high) but if you can put the flash head straight up and bounce the light off a white card then you aren't losing too much light by the time it gets to the subject. Diffusers should give you more light than bounce which is softer than the direct fired flash.

    Personally, I think its important for all photographers to learn how to use flash correctly but I guess in this day of good high ISO performance less people are using flash.
     
  3. Kofman13

    Kofman13 TPF Noob!

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    Well for instance if I don't want a realistic look of light indoors. Like if I don't want it to look like it really does in the room. If I want full soft light hitting the face instead of shotty indoors lights causing shadows etc. Or daylight hitting one side of the making my client look like two-face
     
  4. Vinny

    Vinny TPF Noob!

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    Years ago I had a Vivitar 283 bounce flash that was attached first on the camera's hot shoe then I bought a handle and put it off to the left side of the lens using a sync cord. That's how they did it years ago in the field. Bounced flash and diffused flash give much nicer results than from a direct fired flash.

    I've never been into portrait photography so I can't answer you how to achieve good results. Every portrait photography session I've seen, kids photos and even my wedding photos was done using flash umbrellas but I'm sure there are ways to achieve good or great results from a single flash unit.
     
  5. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    The importance of flash is somewhat subjective.

    Some people never shoot without a flash (or should I say strobe) and some will never use a flash.

    In a way it depends what you shoot. In your case, considering the nature of headshots (flat lighting for the most part) it is hard to imagine you doing it well without any kind of light or light modifier. Light modifiers, in my book, include flash units (or strobes), and the accessories that go on to shape the light. It also includes reflectors and diffusers.

    Outdoors, there are three ways to modify light. Add a fill flash (usually off camera), use a reflector, or use a diffuser. All 3 can achieve fairly similar results if used properly. Often used to control the harshness of daylight, they can also be used to totally change the light if your flash or strobe can overpower the daylight.

    Indoors is a different story. Yes, you can use a window as a light source but most often, you will need a flash (or strobe) eventually.

    Now, they are fairly cheap ways to start. Outdoors, you can make a reflector out of foam core board that are just a few dollars at any art/craft store. That's your basic white reflector. Cover it with aluminum foil on one side and you also have a silver reflector.

    Cheap diffusers can be made out of sheers (curtains) on a pvc pipe frame.

    A flash unit can only be bought. But you don't need to buy the most expensive ones. You can get cheap ones (pawn shop, garage sales, craigslist) since you will be using them off camera and use them in manual mode.

    The advantage of investing in flash units is that you will be able to shoot indoors instead of waiting for the weather to be right thus allowing you to shoot more often. Your basic headshot is flat light with a flash unit on each side of the subject so you need two with either softboxes or umbrellas although you could just bounce those off of foam core boards to start with.

    I personally would never buy more than 2 flash units as it is the most cameras I would want to possibly use one on at a time. If you need more, you need to start looking at strobes.

    I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot of stuff but I hope that get you started thinking in the right way. And if you have more questions, just ask.
     
  6. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    A speedlight flash is considered a pretty standard piece of equipment. If you'd like to learn how to get the very most from a speedlight, try reading the Planet Neil dot come web site for a few weeks.

    It is not absolutely,positively necessary to have a dedicated manufacturer's flash unit, like a Nikon Sb 600 or 900 for a Nikon, or a Canon 430 or 580 for a Canon. It's not all that difficult to buy a 3rd party flash unit, like a Vivitar 285HV,and use its simple,proven semi-automatic or manual modes to get excellent photos. One thing that is nice about the better speedlights though is their ability to tilt AND swivel--the 285 does not swivel, it only tilts upward, so it requires an accessory off-camera cord if the flash is going to be aimed backwards, for example, or sideways.

    The planetneil.com site is a good resource, as is the strobist blog spot. Each are different however--Neil concentrates on using a single flash and bouncing it and combining it with ambient light for people work, while the strobist blog is more about flash overall, in many different forms and modified forms. But yes, I'd say it's a good idea to own a flash for a d-slr.
     
  7. Kofman13

    Kofman13 TPF Noob!

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    Which flash do you have derel?
     
  8. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I have three Vivitar 285 HV flashes, a Quantum battery 1, a bunch of Nickle metal hydride rechargeable batteries, Sunpak 622 Super Pro (which is a monster handle mount), Nikon SB 800, SB-28DX, SB-16, SB-20, and a few old,small junky flashes. Most of my flash units are pretty old now.
     
  9. Kofman13

    Kofman13 TPF Noob!

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    Oh man.... Why do I even ask you derel xD
     
  10. Kofman13

    Kofman13 TPF Noob!

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    Well here's what I think. Once these people are settled and serious about booking me. I should get a flash. If I'm going to get a flash someday this summer anyway, why not get it soon so it can enhance my gigs. I think I would get a nikon flash because I want more features. If I get nikon, sb600 is in my range. What am I missing by not getting a sb 800 or 900?
     
  11. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    The SB-600 cannot be used as a commander flash, like the SB-800/900 can.

    The SB-800 has an SU-4 mode, but the SB-600 doesn't. I've never used an SB-900 so I don't know for sure if it has an SU-4 mode.

    The SB-600 can only be zoomed to 85 mm, the SB-800 can be zoomed to 105 mm and the SB-900 can be zoomed to 200 mm.

    Of the 3, the SB-600 has the least light output.

    If you would take the time to do the research, you would know about some of these features, plus others. www.nikonusa.com

    Waiting to be spoon fed on a photography forum is the slow track to learning about your gear.

    You would learn a lot more, and in a much shorter period of time if you were more of a self starter.
     
  12. Kofman13

    Kofman13 TPF Noob!

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    thanks for the input. i really cant afford more than one flash for a while so i wont need commander. when you say zoom in to 85 does that mean the light is only effective for lenses up until that length?im doing portraits with a 50 mm lens so i wouldnt need more than 85mm?
     

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