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Amateur Lighting Troubles


TPF Noob!
Sep 28, 2010
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Hey all. Recently bought a Canon XS to make the transition from P and S to a DSLR. I bought a few very basic shoot through umbrellas just to have some fun with in the house. With winter coming, my days of roaming the neighborhood to practice are limited so I thought it would be fun to have my poor children become my victims. Anyway...I am a beginner. I am learning. I've read countless books, forums and watched tutorials for hours. And I am completely at a loss with indoor lighting. My subject is lit up like a christmas tree! I have tried single lighting, multiple lights, reflectors and all with the same results....DARK DARK DARK or the shutter speed is so incredibly slow that even with a tripod it isn't practicle. In one of the many videos I watched it was mentioned that a shutter speed of 1/125, ISO of 100 and F4-5.6 should yield good results. Ha!! You can't even see my kid! I am thinking I missed something fundamental here and am probably embarrassing myself by even asking. =) But I'm desperate! Any advice or tips would be appreciated! Thanks.
im new to indoor lighting as well but this is what i found. you might want to try a little higher ISO like 200 or 400, if your getting too much try lowering the aperture

jeff by ~xAgentxMulderx on deviantART

for this i used a pitch black room with 2 spot lamps with incandescent light bulbs facing right towards him with an aperture of f/13 and a shutter speed 10/1000 of a second with my ISO at 200. with the pop up flash..... hope this helps somehow
Could you post a couple of examples with EXIF data intact, and perhaps a diagram of your set-up? That would really help in the diagnosis.
How are you triggering the off camera flash(s)? If your using a light trigger, perhaps your onboard flash for you camera has a pre-flash firing, and triggering the other flashes to early.
Tirediron - I wish I could, but I deleted them all from my card once I stopped kicking my light stands. ;) But, what I can tell you is that based on some reading I had done, I started with ISO 100, F/5.6 and shutter at 1/125. All you could see was an outline of my son's smile. Dark does not even describe how the photo came out. I played with the settings from there and I was up a +1 second shutter speed before he was even visible! WTH?? lol Increasing the ISO helped, as did playing with the aperture...but I guess it was my beginner's ignorance that thought if the subject is well and evenly lit, the camera will KNOW.

Eccs - I should have specified...I was attempting to use continuous lighting. I experimented a bit with distance and angles from the subject, but saw little difference. I ordered a transmitter/receiver today and will make use of the speedlite I have...hopefully, with more success.

And thank you, 1photo...isn't the learning process both fun and frustrating?
That seems very strange to me. How many lights of how many watts each and [approximately] what are the light to subject and subject to camera distances?
Sounds to me like the off-camera flash and the shutter might not be synchronized! The descriptions you are providing us with are a clue that the umbrella flash is NOT illuminating the subjects when the shutter is making the exposure...

My guess--set the camera's on-board flash to 1/16 power in the MANUAL flash control mode, and see if that will help, by eliminating a pre-flash that is fooling the off-camera flash in to triggering early, before the shutter begins its exposure. Note: my advice is based upon me "assuming" that you are using a photo-cell "slave trigger" to synchronize the flash off of the camera in the umbrella with the camera's shutter.
My guess is the lights are continuos and not flash but are very weak, they my look bright to your eyes, those settings you mentioned are for flash

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