Indoors + People = Arrgh! (Advice request!)

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by AnotherChris, Jul 28, 2010.

  1. AnotherChris

    AnotherChris TPF Noob!

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    Hello everyone,

    I'm new to the forum, but I've been using my camera for about 18 months now. I don't have the opportunity to practice all that much and I have one particular weak spot that is driving me crazy. I can't seem to find a balance of flash/not flash/settings to take decent pictures of people indoors. I go to a few conventions a year and about half my pictures either end up overly dark or totally washed out.

    I'm using a Nikon D40 with a Vivitar 400Z flash. As for lenses, I have the AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G, AF-S Nikkor 55-00mm f/4-5.6G, and the AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G that came with the body.

    I tend to only use the manual setting and tweak everything as I need it from shot to shot. In the environments I'm having problems with, I can't lug around any large reflectors or softboxes and the diffuser I have for the lens doesn't do a whole lot to eliminate the harshness of using the flash. I would very much appreciate any advice that you folks could share on how to improve my indoor picture taking.

    Unfortunately, I don't have an example of my washed out images as I tend to delete them. Below is a no-flash image taken to illustrate the other end of the spectrum though.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Robin Usagani

    Robin Usagani Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    The ceiling is pretty low. Just bounce it off the ceiling.
     
  3. Browncoat

    Browncoat No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    +1

    I'm not familiar with your particular type of flash, but unless it can swivel and tilt...you're really handicapping yourself. If you must keep the flash on camera (and can't use it remotely) then bouncing off the ceiling is about your best option to diffuse the light.
     
  4. Taylor510ce

    Taylor510ce TPF Noob!

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    Try adjusting just the flash exposure. If using ttl perhaps your metering mode isnt set properly, so the camera is giving more flash than needed.
     
  5. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If you can bounce the flash, bounce it. And learn how to drag the shutter.
     
  6. Scatterbrained

    Scatterbrained Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Bounce flash is the way to go. You could visit planetneil.com
    for some inspiration. The guy shares many techniques for bouncing flash to achieve solid lighting.
     
  7. AnotherChris

    AnotherChris TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the advice, everyone. The flash does swivel and tilt so I'll try bouncing the ceiling. I'll also take a closer look at the metering, since I just set it in TTL and let it handle itself.

    Now I have a lead on which directions to go to fix the problem. I'll check out Neil's site and get some info on dragging the shutter, too. Thanks again for the help!
     
  8. TiCoyote

    TiCoyote TPF Noob!

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    You can also use a bounce card.

    Additionally, are you using a flash bracket? This might help.
     
  9. AnotherChris

    AnotherChris TPF Noob!

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    I hadn't thought of a flash bracket, I'll look into that. Thanks!

    As for the bounce card, the flash has one built in but it doesn't extend out enough to catch all the light. But, I got the flash for free so I don't have much room to complain. I was considering throwing together one of those DIY flash-mounted mini softboxes. Has anyone tried using one?
     
  10. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    The carpet, and the highlights in the background of the photo you posted are perfectly exposed. :thumbup:

    The camera made all the right decisions based on what it knew about the scene.

    Unfortunately, the camera didn't know the intended main subject was the dark thingies in the foreground there. ;)
     
  11. AnotherChris

    AnotherChris TPF Noob!

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    Thanks again for all the help everyone. I have a related question, if you'd be so kind. I grabbed an older flash bracket extremely cheaply and I was looking at ways to better diffuse the light. I ran across a few articles on DIY flash-mounted beauty dishes. Has anyone had experience with these? Are they worth the effort for my situation? Once again, I appreciate all the assistance!

    Edit: I am working with getting the ceiling bounce down as suggested and getting the metering right with it, etc. I was just looking at some potential other tools to add to the kit.

    Thanks. The lighting in that particular location is very uneven on the lower floors. I'd only just purchased the lens the day before so I was still trying to get the hang of it. (I'm still working on that! :p) Frankly, I'm amazed any of the pictures came out at all. If I could just take what was done right with the background and make it work with the foreground... One day, hopefully.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2010

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