Photos with Flash

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by nutsngum, Feb 26, 2008.

  1. nutsngum

    nutsngum TPF Noob!

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    I'm now used to taking pictures adjusting to the conditions by changing aperture, ISO and shutter speed, but I was wondering if anyone could help me with flash pictures as currently I'm taking them on auto :(

    Anyways, what settings should I have my camera at when I'm going to use flash? I have a Canon XTI with just the standard body flash.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    My first advice is to avoid using the built-in flash. It's small and rather close to the lens, which makes for flat lighting.

    If you must use it, there are a few different ways to go about it.

    Firstly would be to just keep the camera in auto (P) mode. When the flash is on, it will give you a minimum shutter speed (probably 1/60) and a wide aperture. The camera will use a preflash to determine how much flash power to use. You can use FEC (flash exposure compensation) to adjust how much power the flash uses.

    Another way to go, would be to use Av or Tv mode. In these modes, the camera will give you settings for an exposure, as if the flash was not going to be fired and the flash is intended as fill. You can run into problems because the shutter speed may be much too slow...which may cause blur from ambient light.

    What I do when I use flash (although I don't use the built-in flash) is to put the camera into Manual mode. I set the aperture and the camera will use preflash to determine how much power to use. The shutter speed has no effect on the flash exposure (just stay under the max sync speed)...but the shutter speed does have an effect on the ambient (background) exposure. So if you want more ambient exposure, use a longer shutter speed. I use FEC to tune the flash exposure.
     
  3. R0TT3NBURIT0

    R0TT3NBURIT0 TPF Noob!

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    Well i use the built in flash for my canon rebel xti and it works fine. the only problems are auto focus takes a while to focus.
     
  4. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    fine is certainly relative and depends on personal standards. Built in flash is certainly in most cases not the ideal solution.
     
  5. Socrates

    Socrates TPF Noob!

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    That's putting it mildly. Until I bought my D80, I never used the built-in flash. I went through three cameras without even knowing if it worked! Now, with the D80, I use it ONLY as the commander in a multiple-flash configuration.
     
  6. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    since my current main camera does not even have a built-in flash, i am not tempted anyway ;)
    But from times when I had a built-in, I remember it to give ... very mediocre results.
     
  7. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    On my Nikon D80 I set iso to 400, and then set for Manual exposure at 1/125s (quick enough to freeze any motion I'd need to capture) and typically an aperture of between f/2.8 to f/5.6. A larger aperture (2.8) if I want subject isolation, and a smaller one (5.6) if it's a group shot and I want to make sure everybody is in focus. I leave Auto ISO turned on, which allows the camera to automatically crank up the ISO if I get a bad bounce from my SB-600, or it didn't recycle quickly enough. That gives a nice balance of flash lighting and ambient lighting.

    Here's one recent example. This one was at 1/200s, f/2.8, and iso400. My SB-600 flash was pointed up and to the left, bounced off the wall/ceiling, and then back down into my daughter's face for a nice 3D lighting effect.

    [​IMG]

    And it turns out this lens I was testing was front-focusing just a tad, so back it goes. :irked:
     
  8. MACollum

    MACollum TPF Noob!

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    Mav, I love your shots of the little one. How do you do it? Pictures of my kids usually come out really crappy, especially inside. I'm not very comfortable with my flash yet. I use a 430 EX. I suck too much to justify the expense of the 580.
     
  9. ir0n_ma1den

    ir0n_ma1den TPF Noob!

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  10. kevin7_13

    kevin7_13 TPF Noob!

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    I don't have a external flash right now(working on it). When I need to use the built in flash inside though I put my hand in front of the flash about an inch away so the light bounces off your hand on the ceiling. It gives it a little better light.
     
  11. Socrates

    Socrates TPF Noob!

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    That's the type of photography that I really appreciate.
     
  12. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    Thanks a lot Mindy! :)

    I'm all self-taught and just shoot and experiment a lot on my own and learn what works the best that way, so unfortunately I can't point you to any good tutorials that I've learned from. But basically... Direct flash stinks. It's ugly and results in the wash-out look. Flash bounced directly up on the ceiling is better, but results in very flat looking photos, and shadows underneath noses and other undesirable places. I love side/wall bounce flashing with the flash. Try angling your flash head so that the light will bounce back into their face, or at least to one side of it biased towards the front. If they're facing you, you can even turn your flash head around 180-degrees to the rear and get some more light that way and it looks great. Beyond that, just shoot lots. Shooting kids is tough since they don't know to hold still, don't know to pose, and don't even know what a camera is, although my daughter recognizes herself when I bring up pictures on my computer or the camera's screen and starts giggling. :lol: Most of what I shoot is so-so or crap. Maybe 1 out of every 10 is pretty nice, if I'm lucky. You have to nail perfect focus, perfect exposure, perfect composition, and perfect expression and posing all at once with a subject that doesn't even know what a camera is, so it's hard. But persistence pays off. ;)

    Here's one with the flash facing rearward and up about 45-degrees. The flash was simply adding to light already coming in from the window so it looks completely natural. This was on my D40 with the 18-135 lens at 135mm, f/5.6, 1/125s, and Auto ISO upped it a bit from my base 400 setting to 500. Basically the flash hit max power and it couldn't quite make the exposure, so the Auto ISO made up the difference.

    [​IMG]


    Here's one with the bounce flash heading toward the right and bouncing back. Same exact camera, lens, and exposure.

    [​IMG]


    Flash up and to the left, adding to window light. Back on my D80, at ISO 800, 1/200s, f/2.8 on my 1.8/50mm lens.

    [​IMG]


    D40, 18-55 kit lens, SB-400 mini flash bounced directly up. iso400, f/5.6, probably 55mm, 1/125s. Here bouncing up was OK since she was on her back, and thus no shadows being cast across facial features.

    [​IMG]

    By the way, all of those were post-processed in DxO software with auto-sharpening and lighting and exposure adjustments. The first one I pushed +2 stops from the JPEG and it still blew up to 20x30" and looked great. If you don't post-process your images, just know that that can make a huge difference also.

    You can avoid using flash by using ridiculously fast f/1.4 lenses and high ISO, but then your biggest issue will be keeping things in focus since the depth of field is so tiny at f/1.4 apertures. If your kids are moving around that'll be almost impossible, and plus I like having a little more in focus anyways. Stopping the lens down by two stops to f/2.8 will give you more depth of field and have more in focus, but to get the same shutter speed as I was at iso 1600, I'd then need a camera capable of producing acceptable iso 6400 performance which is unreasonable. You're looking at $5000 or more professional bodies for that. No thanks, I'll learn to use the damned flash. :p
     

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