Renting a Speedlite, first time... Help!

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by K8-90, Aug 21, 2008.

  1. K8-90

    K8-90 TPF Noob!

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    Hey!

    So here's the situation... I have volunteered to do team photos of ~50 youth soccer teams over the course of two days. This is the first time I have attempted such a feat. Anyways, the shots will be taken during their finals, following the trophy ceremony. That means that throughout the course of the day, I will be in the same spot, but with varying lighting conditions. I decided to rent a Canon Speedlite 580ex II to try and have some control over the lighting (their last photos were taken with a P&S, and the kids had raccoon eyes, blown highlights, were in shadows of other players...Just not very nice).

    So that sounds good. However, this is the first time I'll be attempting using any type of lighting. So I have no clue what to expect. I'll have the flash the evening before the event, so I'm hoping that coupled with your expertise I will be somewhat prepared.

    I need to know anything and everything you can tell me. I'm shooting with a Canon XSi, with either a 18-200mm or a 50mm. Will I have to sync it, or does that occur manually when I attached to the hot-shoe? What kind of control do I have over the strength of the flash? I don't want to get to complicated, but would it be better if I reflected it off something (ie. a "reflector" such as a large piece of white foam-core)? Is it possible/desirable to mount the flash to a gorrilla pod so that it is off camera?

    As I said, I have never tried to do such a thing before, but luckily, they are not expecting much. If you think that I'm in over my head, let me know, but try and give me some advice nonetheless... :)

    Thanks!
     
  2. K8-90

    K8-90 TPF Noob!

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  3. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Google - strobist

    If you are going to rent then you should really look into a strobe. Shooting 50 teams with AA powered flash will drive you into bankruptcy buying batteries.

    I would think that 800 WS and a 60 inch umbrella would be fine. It would be a good thing to get a reflector and a stand with clamp to fill the other side of your vic- subjects. ;)

    Good luck!
     
  4. K8-90

    K8-90 TPF Noob!

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    Hahaha!

    Will this flash really suck that much juice? I've got rechargeables on hand, but I hadn't thought they'd need to be changed during the day... :blushing:

    I'd love to try what you mentioned, but I'm affraid that would be overkill. As I said, I'm just volunteering to take these pics. The players are not paying for prints either (looks like they'll be posted on the internet high-res and printable), and last year someone took them with a P&S. I'm, also worried that I wouldn't be able to figure out how to work everything. And there's also the worry of rain... If this works out, maybe I could try that next year. And I'll rent the stuff and try it out ahead of time.

    I really appreciate the suggestions, but I must admit that I am a beginner and that flash is the best I can do at the moment...;)
     
  5. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Do read the strobist site. Start now if the time is near.

    Start with 101.. http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101.html

    When you're done reading most of your current questions will have been answered and you'll likely have some new ones. :)




    BTY you are going to need a lot of batteries. Get several large packs and take back what you don't use.
     
  6. K8-90

    K8-90 TPF Noob!

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    Aye Aye, Captain! :p

    I actually started reading that as soon as I replyed to your post... And your right. Some of my questions have been answered - but now I have even more! Also, now I really really wnt to try these new methods out! It's a great site, but I find I'd understand easier if I could try things out as I read it. I'm going to start researching gear and checking my wallet now...

    And you've scared me about batteries. Looks like I'll be going to Costco...
     
  7. davebmck

    davebmck TPF Noob!

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    The nice thing about the 580EX is that it works very well with the flash in ETTL automatic mode. You just set your exposure for the background and the flash will properly expose your subject. If you shoot faster than your sync speed, which is 1/200 or 1/250 for your camera, just set the flash for high speed sync and it will work at the higher shutter speeds as well.

    You have to be pretty knowledgeable and experienced with flash photography to do better than this flash will do in auto mode.
     
  8. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    It depends on how many shots you take of each player but you can guesstimate how many shots and divide by how many you should get per the manual to get an idea of how many sets you will need. Then you will want to multiply by 0.75 because the manufacturer is willing to wait as long as it takes to recycle- but you won't be.
     
  9. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Normally I am pro-strobist, but the conditions have to be good for it. Shooting larger groups with a single battery powered strobe is an exercise in futility.

    Now, you also did not mention it, but since soccer is normally an outdoor event, and you may be shooting into the evening, a fast lens is going to give you better results than any speedlight will, especially if distances to your subject exceed 15 feet.

    My recommendation is that if you are going to be anywhere from 20-75 feet from your subjects, is to get a 70-200 F/2.8 lens and practice using it at both normal and higher ISO settings. Beg/borrow/steal it for a few days before using it to get used to it and practice lots.

    I've likely caused a few people to fall off their chairs because they all know how strobist-centric I am, however... its not about the technology... its about getting the shot. In this case, a fast lens will get you more of what you want/need... those are my feelings. :)

    Now, if you tell me that you will be between 3-10 feet away from all your subjects and that there are not more than 3-5 people at a time and taking pics late afternoon till it gets dark... yeah, time to put on that strobist cap, get the light stand and umbrella out and enjoy!
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2008
  10. K8-90

    K8-90 TPF Noob!

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    Hmm Hmm hmm. A bit more complicated than I'd anticpated, but it could also be fun :)

    Jerry, it is outdoors, but I'm not doing action shots. Just posed, sports-team shots. I think I'll be under 10ft, and with groups ranging from 4-16. I guess that qualifies me for the strobist hat... Can't decide if thats going to be trouble or an awesome excuse to try a new technique!

    Probably should use my 50mm, but I'm feeling rather overwhelmed in regards to choosing (and then using!) the right gear. I'll be renting from vistek.ca. I watched the little Lighting 101 video on strobist, and it dealt with a on off-camera flash mounted on a light stand... However Mike E is suggesting that that setup will suck the life out of the aa batteries really fast. So what I need is this what I need?

    Thanks again :blushing:
     
  11. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Complicated? Not all that much. Fun? Definitely!

    Indeed, I would say the opposite. To get 4 people side by side into a 50mm, get ready for something closer to 20 feet. For 16 people, think more along the lines of 30-50 feet or more, depending on how you pose them, so that one single flash is pretty much at full power from the start and fading fast.

    If you are outdoors, and moving around, you'd had better have access to a generator and lots of power lines around. No disrespect to Mike E, but I get anywhere from 300-700 shots out of my four 2700mah AA batteries, but I rarely push them beyond 1/2 power becuase I do not have to. If you need more, how hard is it to carry 4 more freshly charged ones in your pocket? But battery power is the least of your concerns... total output of quality even light across a big area is your true challenge.

    Basically... no matter how you look at it, one battery powered flash for 16 people... is not going to cut it. You are not being realistic or lack experience to know what it will do. At best, a couple people will look good, the rest dark and underexposed. Not the results I think you want... becuase its not about the quantity of light, but the quality. To light a group of 16 people properly, expect to need something closer to 3 to maybe 5 speedlights, all off camera, properly placed and adjusted for acceptable results... and thats pushing them to the point where recycle times are in the 2-4 seconds between picture range (1/2 power or higher). That is another factor you did not take into consideration.

    This is why I was saying that in the end, fast glass and higher ISO is your friend. I am willing to bet that even with 2 strong speedlights, you STILL would need high ISO (400 or higher once the sun starts to set) and nothing slower than F/4, more likely F/5.6 (you do need SOME depth of field, I am sure), before results are close to being ok. For the 1-2-3 people in a line, F/2.8 from 20-30 feet back is where I would be (assuming your 50mm is the lens you decide on).
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2008
  12. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If you can get power to it then yes that would do nicely. You would still need to bounce it into a 60 inch umbrella (when using an umbrella outdoors remember to take along tent stakes for anchoring your stand).

    I wasn't saying that that flash eats batteries worse than any other just that you will be using it a Lot. -50 times however many in each team times three or four to make sure you get a good shot (the recycle time will take half a day)- --make sure to have an extra camera battery too, you might even want to take along your charger-- And a flash might be a good idea since you have not used a strobe because an OEM flash will allow fill flash with no effort on your part (this said if all your shooting will be done in daylight)

    If you go the strobe/umbrella route (as an added benefit- no recycle time to speak of) then a simple just above, just to the left and just behind the camera placement aimed straight at your subject would be fine.
     

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