Portrait Flash Lighting Question - Diffusers?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Lazy Photographer, Jun 16, 2010.

  1. Lazy Photographer

    Lazy Photographer TPF Noob!

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    I've been doing a bit of volunteer photography for a local community magazine and they want me to photograph five different people for five different upcoming articles. I've got access to a Canon 430EX Speedlite but I'd like to pick up a diffuser for it. Not sure what works best. I've seen the Fong diffusers that slip over the speedlite and I've seen the large 8" rectangle diffuser that sort of looks like a mini softbox. For portraits I have no idea what would work best. I'm hoping for an inexpensive solution to soften the harshness of the flash. Any suggestions?

    Also, I was thinking of shooting with my 17-50mm F2.8 Tamron (probably at around 30-35mm). Would that work? My buddy's got a 50mm F1.8 (which is 80mm on my camera) but I'm thinking the zoom lens would be more flexible. I will likely be photographing both indoors and out (daytime only).
     
  2. eric-holmes

    eric-holmes No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    As long as you get them in the frame, why wouldn't it?
     
  3. Lazy Photographer

    Lazy Photographer TPF Noob!

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    Not having any experience with fast primes, I was thinking there might be less of a chance of distortion using the prime. I know distortion isn't much of an issue with my Tamron once you hit around 24mm but just thought I'd ask. I'm guessing the 50mm 1.8 would be sharper, too, although my Tamron's pretty darn sharp at F8.
     
  4. Big Mike

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

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    To get the 'best' lighting out of a hot-shoe flash, you should get it off the camera. Diffuser or not, light that comes from the same angle as the camera, will be flat (boring) lighting.
    If you don't have the capabilities to do that, then I'd suggest trying to bounce the light, so that most of the light is hitting the subject from a different angle.

    As for diffusers: The way to make light softer (which is usually what you want) is to either make the source bigger and/or move it closer to the subject. Most flash accessories don't enlarge the size of the flash very much, so they don't really make the light softer. Simply covering the flash with plastic won't make the light softer, it just makes the flash work harder. Most flash accessories are helpful when you are bouncing the light off of wall & ceilings etc. as they scatter the light.
     
  5. Lazy Photographer

    Lazy Photographer TPF Noob!

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    Thanks, Mike, that's good to know.
     
  6. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    and.... there's always window light or "by the door-way" light.

    -Pete
     
  7. DaevidClarke

    DaevidClarke TPF Noob!

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    agreed. also get a piece of white foamboard. cheap reflector
     

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