Trying to be a strobist...

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by keith204, Oct 4, 2007.

  1. keith204

    keith204 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    So, I completed Lighting 101 from strobist.blogspot yesterday, and was full of brilliant ideas, ready to conquer the world (or, my small town of 9,000 at least). While building a float, I set up 2 strobes on tripods with my little wireless transmitters and started shooting. (shooting other people working)

    2 problems:
    1. I felt like a total weirdo setting up so much equipment for taking pictures of something so simple
    2. My pictures sucked
    Combine those two, and you have problems 3, 4, and 5. 3) even with all that equip my pictures sucked, 4) even with all that equip my pictures sucked, and 5) even with all that equip my pictures sucked. These three problems make me look like an overconfident loser who has too much money to buy equipment that he doesn't know how to use.

    Have any of you found yourselves in that situation when first learning new techniques?
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    I've read through most of 'lighting 101' and there is plenty of good info there. The one thing that doens't seem to get a lot of attention, is how to figure out the metering or power of the flashes. The guy running that site, has obviously been doing that for some time...and it comes very easy to him...knowing where to set the power on the flash and what aperture to use etc. It's not really that easy for most of us.

    A flash meter would be a good learning tool and would help to nail down your settings....but this is something that will come with practice and experience.
     
  3. castrol

    castrol TPF Noob!

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    Keith... I feel your pain. I have taken a few gems with my crap wireless setup.
    Not sure how many exposures it took to get those few though. Heh.

    I recently ordered the 1 step up from crap Gadget Infinity wireless set up. I
    hope to get better results with this one. So far, everything has been an
    awesome experience. Even if the photos are crap, getting out and shooting
    to PRACTICE and KNOW they are crap is half the battle. It has taken me what
    seems like FOREVER to get the aperture/flash ambient/shutter speed+aperture
    combination figured out. I am feeling a bit more confident with it now, and I
    am pretty excited to have the new wireless stuff show up.

    I am using 2 SB24's and an SB600 as my set up. The SB24's only drop to 1/16
    power, which seems a little limiting, but I figure if I can work around that, I'll
    have it made.

    Don't give up man... I haven't yet. :D
     
  4. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    pssssssst.. flash meter
     
  5. Snyder

    Snyder TPF Noob!

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    I have recently started using 3 SB-800 Flash units in some photos. Inside and outside.
    [​IMG]
     
  6. SteveEllis

    SteveEllis TPF Noob!

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    *Phew.... Breathes a sigh of relief*

    I'm on the same path as you dude, read most of 101 and have just ordered a remote set up and a flash gun, I'm sure I'm about to take lots of crap photos :lol:
     
  7. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well that is the beauty of digital it costs nothing to screw up.
     
  8. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    What ever you do however you do it, take notes. really.
     
  9. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    There's a big difference between reading something and doing something.
    Now you know your pictures sucked, do it again. And again, and again. Eventually it's stop sucking and you start making practical sense of the theory in your head.
     
  10. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Fortunately for you there is one solution for both of your problems: practice!

    The more you practice, the easier setting up the gear will become, your understanding of light will improve, and your photos will get better.

    If it makes you feel better... I've been making 100% of my living from photography for over 4 years now. I just bought a bunch of Pocket Wizards, and boy howdy, all of my recent off camera lighting shots are sucking too!! But I'll figure it out, and so will you. Don't practice when you have to get the shot, practice on your own time when getting the shot isn't important.
     
  11. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Flash guide number divided by distance to subject equals aperture for normal exposure.

    Things to watch out for:
    guide numbers are usually listed for ISO 100
    make sure the GN you are using is for the unit of distance you are using (feet or meters)
    common lore is that flash manufacturers overestimate guide numbers, so personal testing will give you a more accurate assessment of what the real GN is.

    If it's too hard to do the math in the field, then read your flash manual. Many on-camera type flashes either have a mechanical calculator, or show the calculation in the LCD panel (all the upper end Nikon and Canon flashes do this). If that still isn't working for you write out the settings for particular distances on a piece of tape, and stick it to the flash.
     
  12. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Something else I have heard about though never tried: If you have trouble visualizing the shape and distance of your flashes light, get some sidewalk chalk and find a parking lot somewhere and draw out a shoot. Draw the camera position and the subject's and where you think you should place the lights as well. Using different color chalks, draw the out line of the flashes light at an aperture you decide upon (use the guide number calculations for this) and them walk around the drawing to get the feel of everything. If you want two or three different apertures just use different color chalks to draw the light's outline.

    To get an idea of the shape of the flashes output, have someone hold the flash against a wall and take a photo of the wall using your wireless trigger. One shot with the flash flat for the vertical pattern and one shot on it's side for the horizontal pattern.
     

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