Using flash outdoors to remove shadows

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by gossamer, Apr 12, 2017.

  1. gossamer

    gossamer TPF Noob!

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    Hi, I have a D500 with the 24-70mm VRII and an SB700 and brought together a bunch of friends to take pictures of their kids. It was a bright day, but also lots of really harsh shadows. I'm an amateur, but not a complete novice. I do have trouble with flash, however.

    My goals were as follows:

    - Use flash to get rid of harsh shadows
    - Keep depth-of-field short (2.8/3.5) to blur background
    - Be close enough to subject to create a nice profile picture

    The picture below is mostly what I ended up with that day.
    DSC3244_Harrison30.jpg

    I was shooting at ISO100, and even with -3.0 flash compensation and shutter speed of 1/250th with flash, I couldn't figure out how to get rid of the shadows without washing out the subject entirely. This is f/5.6, ISO100, 1/250th, 60mm. This picture is straight out of camera - I usually do some photoshop adjustments, but this is to show exactly what I'm talking about.

    Is this even possible? Do I need some type of ND filter? My metering mode was set to highlight metering.

    Of course I could come back on a day less bright, or find a spot at the park without shadows, but that isn't always possible. I'm going to take pictures of the cherry blossoms in NJ this weekend, and I know there's going to be unavoidable shadows.

    I was hoping to be able to use flash to get rid of the harsh shadows, yet maintain the facial tone, obviously. What is the right way to do this?

    Would bracketing have helped here? Is this what I should always be using in environments like this?

    I've also provided a link to the original NEF.
    Dropbox - _DSC3244.NEF

    # JPG Image
    Dropbox - DSC3244_Harrison.jpg

    Thanks for any comments.


     
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Nikon's FP Sync ( what Canon calls High-Speed Sync (HSS) would have allowed you to get the shutter speed much faster. Not sure if the SB 700 allows FP Sync.
     
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  3. TamiAz

    TamiAz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yes, the SB700 does have HSS. That's what I use..

    Hi there.. That's great you were able to get some kids to practice on. First thing I would have done is to find some open shade to place your subject. It's pretty tough to figure out how to shoot in direct sunlight when you're trying to learn..At least, for me it would be. I like to watch videos to learn a new skill, so I go to Youtube quite a bit for photography videos. I find it easier to learn by watching someone. I've watched Matt Granger, Adorama TV, and Mark Wallace and they all do a great job explaining. You'll also get a ton of good information from the pros that hang out here. Keep practicing and it will eventually click!!
     
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  4. gossamer

    gossamer TPF Noob!

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    FP Sync is controlled in the camera, not on the flash itself. I always thought it was only to be used in very special circumstances due to the timing with the rear curtain. Perhaps this is that special case.

    Derrel has always been very helpful, and so much appreciated.

    I actually did find a shady spot from a very large evergreen tree, but it created a problem of its own. While the children were in the shade areas, the entire frame needed to be either all in the shade area or beyond the shadow area into the lighted area or there was a horrible demarcation line where the shade ended and the bright part began. I ended up just shooting their upper bodies.
    DSC3258_Kids2.jpg DSC3267_Kids2.jpg

    I will experiment with FP Sync. Ideas for improving the composition for pictures like the above would also be appreciated :)
     
  5. TamiAz

    TamiAz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yeah, unfortunately, those are issues you will have when you shoot in the middle of the day. It makes it that much more challenging. If you tried to shoot the same pictures during the early evening/golden hour they would look totally different. When they are in the shade you have to expose for their faces, so that is going to over expose the back ground. You could have used your flash in the shade and expose for the ambient light and then add the flash. This is where the high speed sync comes in to play... You would use a higher shutter speed to bring down the exposure in the background, so it doesn't look so bright. Your dealing with two exposures when using flash, so it takes some practice. I'm pretty new to flash, but I see some improvement every time I practice.
     
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  6. greybeard

    greybeard Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    head for the shade
     
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  7. table1349

    table1349 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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  8. Scoody

    Scoody No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    When I shoot under those conditions I close up the aperture . Since you said you are already using flash it should be no problem to go from there.
     
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  9. photo1x1.com

    photo1x1.com TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Your case is exactly why I hope some company will finally come up with an electronic shutter that will sync flash with any shutter speed.

    I absolutely love open aperture portraits in bright daylight and using flash with these is a story on its own. I have bought tons of equipment in the past to be able to pair fast shutter speeds with flash.
    As others have suggested High Speed Sync, (Hyper Sync, etc.) flash is the only easy help here. The problem is: you lose a lot of flash power.
    Things you can do: get closer: the closer you are, the more blurred your background will be even when you stop down your lens AND the flash is much stronger when it is closer.

    Reflectors are also working really well, but they are more difficult to set up than a flash and especially if you use them form a perspective close to the camera, people have a hard time keeping their eyes open. The best thing to search for is a big white wall that will reflect your light. Hard to find though.
     
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  10. photo1x1.com

    photo1x1.com TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Lay on the floor (or putting the camera down) helps a lot with the "demarcation line".
    Also:
    • the girls are in the middle of the shadow. Bring them forward close to the edge between sun and shadow to brighten their faces.
    • Shooting these kind of conditions often gives you color casts.
      Use lightroom to take a white balance on the teddy bear. If that still doesn´t create the desired results, try to use lightroom to get rid of them by doing some split toning, getting blue into the highlights and yellow into the shady areas.
      Sometimes it works really well, at other times not so much. Play with the saturation - the below example might be too much.
      splitToning.jpg
    • The girls have a little too much headroom for my taste and on the first image the big tree on the right is a little distracting. I see your goal of not placing them in the middle, but the tree in this case drags the viewers attention.
     
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  11. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    which was a great decision, but you just needed to add flash to bring the exposure on the girls back up to meet the background.


    Here's a random shot I took; notice the position of the sun, the camera settings, and the shadows on the plant, and how dark the BG became:

    [​IMG]


    this was a 150w/s monolight at the lowest setting, with 7" reflector -- just used my YN-622TX to be able to "hyper" sync it my shutter speed.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2017
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  12. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Or... just get back to basics. The key light (in this case) the sun, is causing harsh shadows. We know we have two choices with harsh light; move the light source closer to the model or diffuse it. Since the former isn't really possible, then we need to look at the latter which is very simple. This doesn't totally negate the need for fill flash ('though you could get away without it), but it does create a much reduced dynamic range making fill flash an easier proposition.
     
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