using flash

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by little_earthquakes, Aug 9, 2007.

  1. little_earthquakes

    little_earthquakes TPF Noob!

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    I have some questions about flash. I've never gotten it to work for me. I'd like to get fill flash to work well for me without having my photos look washed out or have that "flash" look to them. I want to eliminate grain in my photos, and add clarity, and I think providing my own illumination plus using lower speed film may help solve my clarity, underexposure, and grain issues. So, talk to me about flash.

    What exactly is "through the lens" flash? Do I have to use that kind? What about reflectors? I have an old Vivitar flash from the 70s that is moveable, should I try using that as a bounce flash/regular flash? What about soft boxes, how to they work for shooting a portrait? I definitely have googled/checked around and still am...lost about all this. There's just so much info out there and yet...when I try fill flash my photos look like...this...eeek:

    http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1306/1065333854_6332d47bd6_o.jpg
    (seriously this photo is horrid. my photos are not normally that bad. just so you know. my verdict on the flash that came with my camera: do not want).

    That was a portrait in a fully lit room, next to a bright window,

    Pentax 28 to 90 mm lens, f 4.0 1/90 Kodak Portra VC iso 400
     
  2. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Hello there.

    There is no through the lens or TTL flash... at least not as far as I am aware... rather it is TTL flash metering... the camera meters the scene (either with or without a pre-flash depending on the system) and sets flash power accordingly. You don't need to use this... you can also set the flash manually, or you can rely on a sensor on the flash (depending on model) instead of the one in the camera. I use both TTL (or rather P-TTL, the Pentax TTL system... each company has their own) and manual, depending on the situation.

    The Vivitar should be fine as long as it can be safely used on the camera. I don't know what camera body you're using, but the flash circuitry on newer ones can sometimes be damaged by the high voltages of older flashes.
     
  3. little_earthquakes

    little_earthquakes TPF Noob!

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    I can always use the older flash with the older camera only (sears/ricoh KSX). I'll have to check to be sure it can be used with my newer camera (which is a Pentax MZ-7). Thanks for the info!
     
  4. Big Mike

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

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    Yes, you can certainly use your Vivitar flash. Is it one of the 'auto thryster' units like the 283? If so, that's great.

    Basically, what you do is to match the aperture of the lens to the F-number setting on the flash (& the ISO). The shutter speed should be set to the camera's max sync speed or slower. This will cause the flash to give you enough light for a mid exposure. If you want the flash to over expose, then adjust either the flash setting or the aperture of the lens (larger aperture). If you want to get less exposure from the flash, same thing, just opposite (smaller aperture).

    Knowing how much and when to adjust the flash, comes with experience. It's easy with digital, because you can see it right away. With film, I usually kept it fairly close to match up, or a little bit underexposed.
     
  5. photogincollege

    photogincollege TPF Noob!

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    And yes to make it look less "flashy" and look more natural dont direct the flash right at the subject, either reflect it or bounce it off a good flat white wall. It will make the flash less harsh and more natural.
     
  6. Big Mike

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

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    Good point. 'Soft' light is light that comes from a large source, relative to the subject. So if you bounce off of a wall or ceiling, you greatly increase the effective size of the source.
     
  7. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hi, I'll chime in with the bounce idea. You could go to your local Wal-Mart or equivalent and get some white foam core to use as a reflector. If you use the auto thyristor be sure to have the flash body pointed directly at your subject otherwise you can measure from subject to reflector to flash to set the flash manually. If you have someone hold the foam core you will be able to be much more precise.
     
  8. little_earthquakes

    little_earthquakes TPF Noob!

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    No idea what you mean by this??

    Do you mean somehow bounce the flash off the foam reflector....? How would that work if you're pointing the flash directly at the subject? Then it wouldn't be bounce flash.

    It is an auto thyristor 283. I hope it works! It was my husband's grandfather's and I don't think it's been fired in at least 15 (probably 20) years.
     
  9. Big Mike

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

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    Those were/are great flash units. If there hasn't been any battery leakage in it, it should still work.

    I think what Mike is saying, is that you would point the flash at the foam core board, to make the light source larger (if you didn't have a ceiling). That flash doesn't rotate (only tilt) so you don't have to worry about the direction of the auto thyristor sensor.

    The best thing you can do, is to see if it works and then experiment. It may mean that you have to use up a few rolls of film...but the lesson may be invaluable.
     
  10. little_earthquakes

    little_earthquakes TPF Noob!

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    I could always do this experiment with my chepo digital just to get an idea of how it works, as well. Of course, it may be hard to tell if things are really working then because ALL (ok most) photos on that camera look like ass, heh.

    Where would I put the core board reflector? Next to the person? Or just experiment? Well, now I am excited to try this. I'll keep you posted on how things turn out.
     

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