To Flash or not to flash

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by novelle72, Nov 13, 2006.

  1. novelle72

    novelle72 TPF Noob!

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    Hello,
    I am new to photography. I received an Olympus E-Volt 500 for my birthday and love it. I am in the process of buying necessary accessories. The camera has a built in flash, do I really need an external flash? If so which one? Under what conditions would I use a large flash?
    Thanks,
    Russell
     
  2. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    yes you need an off camera flash....
    1. you have a lot longer flash range with a larger flash...
    2. you can varry the angle of flash so as not to have the mug shot look.....
    3. you can bounce it off the ceiling or a side wall to change the look of your picture from soft to dramatic...
    4. You get a better fill light with an off camera flash...
    6. You almost never get red eye with an off camera flash...
    7. it just looks cool.

    Im sure there are other reasons those are just the ones they strike me at the moment
     
  3. W.Smith

    W.Smith TPF Noob!

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    Agree with all of them except no. 4. Off-camera flash produces far bigger shadows – as seen by the lens – than the built-in one. So that's not particularly useful as fill-flash.
     
  4. novelle72

    novelle72 TPF Noob!

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    When talking about off camera flash do you mean a large freestanding remote flash or one that attaches to the hot shoe? Which one is most useful for the beginner?
    Thanks,
    Russell
     
  5. W.Smith

    W.Smith TPF Noob!

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    The latter one is more useful for a beginner. And wireless is even better than attached. For reporting-type photography (like weddings and events) you can use it on top of your cam, with or without a [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNCmuExlHvM"]bounce card[/ame], or held up with your outstretched left arm if you want less 'flat' light.
     
  6. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    As a fill I'm not sure I ever noticed much of a shadow. I set my fill a stop below the sunlight value. And usually swing it over the lens rather than side to side. It sits about five inches above the lens and usually does nothing but kill the shadows.

    I dont do a lot of extreme close ups so usually the swing isnt even needed.

    I must be the last photographer in the world who uses an L bracket lol,
     
  7. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Novelle, in general the last place you want your flash unit is at the camera. The reason is that it produces no modeling. It is just flat, in your face, headlights-on-the-deer-in-the-road kind of lighting. So if you buy a larger flash gun and put it on the hot shoe you will get exactly the same lighting but with more available power.

    The idea is to get an extension cord for the flash so that you can hold it away from the camera whether you bounce the light from something to soften the light or not. So until you're ready to take that on, I wouldn't recommend getting another flash unit. If you are, then there you go.

    To help with the fill question, fill is whatever adds light to shadow areas in the subject. If you have illumination coming to the subject at an angle, you can "fill" shadows partially or completey by adding a second light source (it could be just a reflector, as an example) at whatever angle works to reduce the darkness of the shadows.

    I always recommend that beginners start by using window light and a reflector. I recommend getting a large piece of white foam core to act as the reflector. Then fool around with different subjects, different times of day, different distances and angles for the reflector etc. That will give you some additional experience at how light behaves. What we are normally trying to do with artificial light is to produce something that looks like natural light.

    When you move to flash light, everything is really the same except for the methodology for generating the light. I had a tendency to use a lot of reflectors in the studio mostly because I learned how to light subjects at a window.
     
  8. JamesD

    JamesD Between darkrooms

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    A flash built in to the camera or attached to the hot shoe is good for filling in shadows created by sunlight, or when you simply don't have enough light. If it's the main source of light, you're going to have a flat-looking image.

    One big problem I've found with on-camera flashes is when taking pictures of people standing near a background. The natural way to take a portrait is to turn the camera on its side, so the image is tall, rather than wide. However, if using flash, this will A) make reasonable shadows for modelling if the photograph is taken close enough; and B) cast an annoying-as-all-getout shadow against the background behind the person, on the side opposite the subject.

    An off-camera (handheld or stand-mounted) flash and a reflector can help with this problem, and two or more flashes can eliminate it. So can eliminating the background, or making it brighter.
     
  9. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    But you have all overlooked the main advantage, the whiz bang looks so cool...
     
  10. W.Smith

    W.Smith TPF Noob!

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    No. 5 is alive!
     
  11. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    No 5... because im older and I said so damn it...... lol just kidding
     
  12. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    Or james you can use your light to throw the back shadow where you want it. I personally like it on the floor. that why in verticle my light is almost two feet above the camera if i swing it left but right over the lens if i swing it right... right for rings left for portraits in the church...
     

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