Bouncing flash and white balance

truephotoga

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I will be shooting in a church with high wooden ceilings and my plan was to bounce flash up. Will this affect my white balance and any recommendations on how to compensate for it? Thanks.
 
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truephotoga

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Ok thanks, I do shoot RAW. Anyone else have experience bouncing flash into a taller wooden ceiling? Will I get enough of the flash bounced back down or will the wood absorb too much of the light?
 

Mach0

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Ok thanks, I do shoot RAW. Anyone else have experience bouncing flash into a taller wooden ceiling? Will I get enough of the flash bounced back down or will the wood absorb too much of the light?
Depends on your camera/ISO/flash. However, you will most likely have a nasty color cast.


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Gary A.

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All depends on how high the ceiling, how irregular the ceiling, how dark the ceiling and how powerful the flash. I'd do some tests and I'd be prepared to attach a bounce attachment to the flash, or use your hand ... if any of the above exceeds a level of acceptability and IQ.
 

AKUK

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If it's dark wood, it will certainly absorb a lot more light than a white ceiling would. As already mentioned, the height might also be a factor. If they are pretty high then the light has to travel from the flash to the ceiling, then bounce back, which means you have to pump a lot more juice out of it due to the inverse square law. This may drain batteries pretty fast, so would suggest using a higher ISO of maybe 2 stops above the native, so you get 4 times the juice from the batteries. For example, if you got 250 shots at full power on ISO 100. You can get 1000 shots at 1/4 power and ISO 400.

Also, if there are heavy wooden beams crossing the ceiling, they may act to contain the light somewhat, as happened to me in the past, although the ceiling was very low.
 

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Yes it will affect your white balance and as mentioned you will need more flash power because of the increased distance.
A problem with bounced flash many don't anticipate is the light comes down at a steep angle making peoples eye sockets dark (raccoon eyes).
So a white bounce card is used to direct part of the light from the upward pointed flash forward to provide 'fill' light.

Light from a ceiling that isn't white can pick up a color cast from the ceiling and interfere with the white light from a bounce card creating a hard to edit mixed lighting situation even when editing a Raw file.
 
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truephotoga

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Thanks guys. Yes, there are also wooden cross beams to deal with. I'm thinking to change my strategy now to diffuse the flash and shoot on camera possibly. Not ideal, but I think I will have less color casting to deal with.
 

bratkinson

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All of the above.

When I shoot church events, whether in the sanctuary or in one of the hall areas, mixed lighting causes WB nightmares. I've given up on everything from a grey card to X-rite Color Checker because if the subject or I move more than a foot or two, the WB changes. So does overall lighting in some cases. So, I resort to the old 'find something white in the photo and set WB to that and maybe a little tweaking' methodology. Then, if everyone is more or less stationary for a couple of frames, synchronize the settings from that. Sometimes I can use flash to overpower the inconsistent lighting, but I do so sparingly.

I did my first real estate shoot this past Sunday for a friend whose discount-rate R.E. agent must have used their cell phone to take pictures and put those on the web. I tried no flash for the first 2 rooms, then quickly realized that the incandescent/florescent/LED/snowy-outdoors-bright-sunlit windows lighting made everything crazy. I think I managed to save one or two of those shots and just fiddled with the WB until they were presentable. Having a powerful flash saved the day for the shoot.

Lastly, make sure your monitor is calibrated to ensure that what you see on your screen is what the colors truly are.
 

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I will be shooting in a church with high wooden ceilings and my plan was to bounce flash up. Will this affect my white balance and any recommendations on how to compensate for it? Thanks.

Unless the wood ceiling is painted "white" then yes it will. If you have any room in your house with colored paint on the wall, bounce the flash off the colored wall and you'll notice the resulting photo has the color cast of the paint int he flash. Bounce off a "green" wall... get green light reflected. Bounce off a "blue" wall... get blue light reflected.

So if you bounce off a "wood" ceiling and it's a light colored wood, then you'll get a yellow-ish/orange-ish tint in your light. If it's brown wood, it won't reflect very much light, but it'll give a color cast as well.

You'll probably need to use custom white balance (a "gray card" can help you get the white balance right, although if this is a wedding and there are candles, I prefer to allow a _very_ tiny amount of gold color cast to "warm" the overall look and don't return the light to perfect white balance.)
 

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Did anyone notice he said HIGH ceilings. A high church ceilling is not going to bounce light from a flash in any significant amount. To the OP I assume your know that light changes by the square of the distance. If you get one full stop at 10', then your will get 1/4 stop at 20' etc. Look up at that ceiling ask someone how high it is. Then since your light must go all the way up, and all the way down double the distance. Now take your camera/flash and take a picture of something that far distant. That will show you exactly how much light you will bounce.
 

wfooshee

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My first thought was "Who cares about WB? He won't get enough light from that far away anyway!"
 
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Some general thoughts......

Shooting in RAW means WB is a non issue. I wouldn't worry about it. That said, there are several other ways to soften the speedlight for fill w/o the harsh shadows. I have a small and medium softbox that fits over the flash which works really well.

The best thing to do as said, take some folks with you to the church and take some test shots. Usually couples have rehearsals; I'm not a wedding photographer but is it permissible for a photographer to go to the rehearsal so they are "In Tune" with what the actual ceremony will be like? Seems that would be an excellent time to "test" how you plan on doing the actual shoot from the venue.

As a Live Music Photographer, I often research venues I haven't been to and likewise, I watch YouTube footage of the artists to pick up recurring "tells" which would lead up to a particular shot I wanted to capture as part of the story.
 

Dave442

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One of our churches here has highly slanted dark wood ceiling. Usually best option is an assistant holding an off camera flash on an extension with no modifier and directed at the subject. Assistant stays about same distance from subject, this keeps the lighting the same and allows moving around a fair amount to get the shots. Usually set a custom white balance at the start, one that looks good on the back of the camera.
 

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