Strobe Lighting

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by dab_20, May 27, 2010.

  1. dab_20

    dab_20 TPF Noob!

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    So... just need some help on lighting. Tomorrow I am going to do a maternity photo shoot with my cousin. She is not at the "perfect size" yet, we're just practicing for lighting and poses and such. Anyways, I'm wanting to get that nice, soft, natural looking lighting. I am going to take advantage of any window lighting, but I don't know how much there is. How do I achieve softer lighting with my hotshoe flash? It is on camera. I practiced with my dog (my only model available and willing at midnight;)) and this is the result. It's just not the soft look I want.

    [​IMG]

    Is there anyway I can achieve this soft lighting? My setup here was basically pointing the flash at a wall a bit to the left of the subject behind me. Obviously there is some exposure and other technicalities I could've dealt with, it was really more of a snap shot experimenting with my flash.

    This is kind of what I'm going for....
    http://www.photogbiz.com/photography-business/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/maternity1.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2010
  2. IlSan

    IlSan TPF Noob!

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    One thing that I found that works most of the time is reducing the flash's power to about 1/8.
    If this does not do the trick, a little "household remedy" I like to use is to stick a bit of backing foil just over the flash, disburting direct light hitting my model and thus softening the light a little.

    But of course, I would try this out at home to find the optimal backing foil (or is it called backing paper - the paper you use when backing something in the oven - not entirely see through, more of a miklish white).

    Of course, ideally a softbox is used, but then again, they are not always around.

    Hope I could give a little help here...
     
  3. Big Mike

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

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    The power of the flash will depend on the lens aperture, the ISO and the distance to the subject. Just setting it to 1/8 is meaning less without those details.

    The 'softness' of light is determined by two things. The size of the source and the distance to the subject. Putting something over the flash lens won't necessarily make it softer.

    The easiest way to make the light from your flash softer, is to bounce it off of walls/ceilings etc. This may or may not get you the 'natural' look you are going for, but it's better than just shooting the flash directly to the model.

    Another property of light is the direction. On-camera flash usually doesn't look good because it comes from the same direction/angle as the lens sees the subject. Thus you end up with 'flat' lighting.

    If you can change the direction of the light, you can allow the lens to see both light and shadow, giving your subject depth and dimension.
     
  4. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Your link was done with window light only, no strobed light.

    The reason bouncing the light off a wall or the ceiling makes the shadows softer, is it makes the light source appear much bigger. Bigger is softer. :thumbup:

    That's what umbrellas and softboxes do too, but they allow getting the light source close to the subject allowing better control of where the light is going.

    Bouncing the light doesn't offer much control and if the surface the light is bounced off of it isn't white, the light becomes whatever color it's bounced off of.

    Another issue with bouncing light is the light has to travel a lot farther which means the Inverse Square Law kicks in (double the distance, only 1/4 as much light gets to the subject) and you have to use more flash power, which eats up batteries quicker.

    At any rate, a good book for an introduction to photographic lighting is:

    Light: Science and Magic. An Introduction To Photographic Lighting. by Fil Hunter.
     

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