General Critique #2 Please


No longer a newbie, moving up!
Nov 17, 2015
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Thread #1 seemed to help there were so many good points I caught on to, thank you.

In this post I will show my new Photos, now that I am working with an off camera flash.

I just read this from Derrel in another post;
"time to learn how to work a camera. That's the issue. It is now time to learn how to work a scene, work a camera, work a composition from a mental thought into an actual, finished image, and that is basically the artistic and aesthetic journey that every photographer needs to begin, and complete. The easy part is over. Now you need to work on aesthetics, lens work, composition, lighting, and processing."- Darrel

Thats where Im at!

My main focus at the moment is to have the basics in place, so when I have the opportunity to photograph I will have a better chance.

Keeping organized and being ready will be my focus.

I haven't done anything in post yet I want to catch some better light and have some nicer compositions to work with. The plan is to have a finished portrait of my Daughter from a Christmas scene printed for her birthday in January. I want to print a large canvas, 30x 40 or similar, bigger is better IMO for this one. Having some props from Cmas in the picture is important I think for the intended recipient of said photo, Mom, she goes all out so I want to capture her Christmas " Spirit" a bit. These close ups are practice for lighting the eyes, but I intend to zoom back a bit to have a tree/ ornament or something in the shot.

Im looking for suggestions how to use the speed light, Bay Window, and a large white reflector, and specific setting on my D70 to accomplish my vision. Watching Kelby today I saw him using a diffuser and an umbrella. I will order one if that will help make my light more useful. I will consider smaller strobes/ reflectors for background light or hairlight etc. I can use if you know a good product.

Considering also to upgrade my nifty 50mm 1.8 to a 1.4 ( mostly because someone local is selling one used for 400), or going with an advanced zoom like 70-200 2.8. I need to know that the pics will be BETTER before I drop another 1k+ on a lens. I am pretty familiar with the 50mm so I like the thought of keeping it if it is sufficient. I feel like the 1.4 for a portrait will not really make a difference because Im using light and don't need/ want to shoot at 1.4, I bumped my f/ to 5.6 for working with the speed light.

General plan is to get her in front of the window during strong light hours ( 8-10 AM at the moment) for Rim/ hair lighting, and use the reflector as side fill, with the speed light shooting through the umbrella close up at 1/128 power, pointing up a bit at her ideally, so I need a prop to sit her on because the umbrella is 33".

Its funny I noticed I really have started tracking the suns movements and positions since becoming interested on photography, 8 years ago.

Well, you asked for more info in the last post so I thought I'd set this one up a bit better :)



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Heres a shot of the setup/ space I use as a studio.

Is there such thing as a reflector holder or should I just make one with a tripod and clamps?


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There's really not much benefit moving to the 50/1.4-G's a waste of $400. The $400 would be far better spent on lighting gear. As far as combining window light and most climates during the winter, window light is very weak, and requires a slow shutter speed to allow the natural light to even approach the power of the flash, with the lens set to f/5.6. not depend on window light for fill or hair light because many times, it will require too slow a shutter speed. It would be better to fire a second flash, as a rim- or hair light flash. I just measured and right now I get ISO 320, f/5.6 at 1/200 second, with similarly strong incoming morning window light on a south-facing wall.

Yes, there are devices to hold foamcore boards in position. I use "forks" made by Manfrotto...these have nail-like prongs that go into the board, welded to a small metal strip, and that strip has a 1/4x 20 N.C. female thread, which I mount to ball heads.Manfrotto 143F Fork for Magic Arm 143F B&H Photo Video

Avenger has a newer variant of the above, which I now see is not available new. A light stand or tripod an A-clamps can also be used to hold foam core boards in position.

I would not point the umbrella "up", but instead, move it above her head level and aim it down. Or aim it in from the far side, and back toward the window. Of turn her so she has the window at her back or coming in from over a shoulder, and then use the umbrella and flash Your set-up as shown would have the umbrella's light hitting a small child very flat-on, and it would look a bit dimension-less, I think. I am pretty sure that 1/128 power at f/5.6 will not be quite enough light.

A general solution might be to create a broad area light, using the speedlight and umbrella from 8 feet back and just generally lighting and creating a soft, broad swath of diffused electronic flash+umbrella, firing the flash at full or half power most likely, so she can move a little bit and have decent light "within a zone" where her standing/sitting position is located.

You need to be aware that movement with strong window light will create potential blurring at slower shutter speeds. If you use a Christmas tree, the exposure for the tree's lights will likely be 1/15 second or so at f/5.6 at ISO 320.
Your technique is good. Now let the model relax and perform. Kids love to do this and my approach is to encourage them, not to have too static an environment.
If you want to capture someone's portrait then let them be themselves and be ready. She leads, you follow, you will miss some shots and you will get others, she will be on her toes and so will you. ;)
Pretty soon Derrel you'll have 'em to 4 flashes.

For future equipment planning purchases,
Might want to mention the inexpensive Adorama Flashpoints Strobes and Kits, such as ==> Flashpoint 3 LS

I have 4 or 5 speedlights. I wish after 1 speedlight (needed for roving camera) that I bought Strobes instead.
astroNikon said:
Pretty soon Derrel you'll have 'em to 4 flashes.
Might want to mention the inexpensive Adorama Flashpoints Strobes and Kits, such as ==> Flashpoint 3 LS

I have 4 or 5 speedlights. I wish after 1 speedlight (needed for roving camera) that I bought Strobes instead.

I've had studio flash gear (Speedotron) since the mid-1980's...I started with three flash heads and one, 1600 Watt-second power pack, light stands, modifiers, boom stand, and got a lot of photo work because I could light things. I later moved into being a daily grind portrait shooter who used a four-light setup. I personally think that LEARNING how to light things is far,far easier with 1)studio flash and 2)good light stands.

In the OP's living room shooting situation, one or two flashes ought to be plenty, especially if he's gonna use some of that window lighting as another light source.

I've been recommending low-priced monolights (Adorama Flashpoint 320M,specifically) to TPF'ers for several years. Two recent members who've taken that advice and have become very solid shooters within a short time are JustJazzie and braineack. They bought the basic stuff...and wow...their lighting skills have just taken off. Jazzie went Flashpoint, braineack went with another lower-cost brand, but his results are super-clean and professional-looking.

Speedlights work. Yes. But you're shooting blind with them...everything is after the fact.
This site hates my iPhone6plus.

Deletes my message when I go over to Amazon to check something lol. Oh well, second post is never as good.

Thanks for the replies!

I found the lights mentioned on Amazon. I have been on the fence about monolights, decided to go speedlight out of economics and the fact I HATE my canon speedlight.

Would these little slave flashes fit the bill?

Thanks Derrel for confirming my suspicion about the Lens.


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Thanks guys!

I would like to keep my setup portable for the time being, and less expensive. Im wondering if the little slave strobes will be good for rim/background/key/hair lights. I only need 6 lights. I can add more YN560s for about 100$

I figure if I can set it up fast in my living room then I can take it with me to do on location work. I do food photography for my day job ( Chef).

Darrel can you explain what you meant by " shooting blind with them... everything is after the fact", and the main reasoning to go with moonlights over more speed lights, and if there is a useful, cheaper option

I remember reading a post of Braineaks about a car. Ugly little car but cool lighting haha.
Shooting Blind: Using speedlights with studio modifiers (umbrellas, grids,softboxes, diffusers,etc) is shooting blind....meaning you can not literally SEE what each flash is can not actually SEE reflections, catchlights, shadows, glares, or anything that the light is actually doing in real time. Has the subject slumped a little bit, and one eye lost the catchlight? Is the subject in the good light...what if the subject moves in relation to the lights...what if the camera is moved in relation to the subject?

With real studio flash units, the eyes of the subject close down, and show a darkened room with speedlights, the pupils of the eyes open up wide, eliminating eye coloration, and giving that OD'd on heroin look. When you are using real studio lighting, you can literally SEE good, better,best positioning of the subject for every can move the subject, or move the light, or move the camera, and at ALL times, you can literally SEE what each light is doing, on a real-time basis.

Shooting with speedlights, every single aspect of lighting is only visible AFTER each single exposure is made. So, you're a chef! The small slaves are wide-beam, not easily controlled, and must be in household-base type light fixtures. For USA buyers, the Flashpoint 320M is $99...less expensive than a good speedlight from a reputable maker, and 3.5 to 5 times less costly than a high-end camera-maker speedlight.

Wondering if I might be able to get rid of my cleaver, boning knife, cook's knife, fillet knife, paring knife, vegetable knife, peeler, and bread knife and just use a food processor for everything? Tools have very different characteristics. If you want to try to learn food photography, you'd better throw the speedlights away, and get the right tools. You cannot use a food processor for everything. People who try to "learn" studio lighting deserve to have the right tools. I'm not a chef, but I have multiple knife types, and I understand the value that the right tool brings with it, inherently.
You sold me I'll get a Monolight :)

Trade all your knices in for a Gyuto, a 9.5 Tojiro is litteraly the ONLY knife you need. 72.00 on Amazon.

The little slave won't work as a hair light?
So the monolights are always on, like a continuous light? That would help.


When you say " if you want to learn" Food photography it almost kills the thread. I have thousands of pictures of food. And a lot of sculptures.

Make dessert first. Last advice I'll give about cooking here.
The thing with those Morris-type slaves is controlling their beam spread. It has a fixed beam spread, and needs 110 volt AC current to power you're committed to AC power for it. If it will work as a hairlight or not depends on several factors. The thing is basically a small, modifier-free type flash, one that can be plugged into an actual household light socket and even placed right in the photo if's a daylight-balanced "fake lightbulb"...if by hairlight you mean an overhead, hard, undiffused flash, yeah, it would be fine...if the power level is appropriate for the other lights...and if the distance is right...and the f/stop is many "ifs".

I like a hairlight that is very adaptable: a 10,20,or a 35 degree honeycomb grid + a barn doors set + 1,2,or even 3 mylar diffusers, all used together, either on a 7- or 11.5 inch me the hair light is a critical,critical light. I see this as a broad-beam, hot, undiffused flash, more for rim-lighting or kicker-light use, designed to be fired from off to the side, or off to the top, as a crisp, delineating light...

The thing is...the Morris-type slave is not very flexible in a number of ways. It's a butter knife.

****I wrote out the above reply without having seen your last post. You might very well have thousands of photos of food. But you're obviously not very knowledgeable about lighting. If you want to shoot food with speedlights, you're talking about learning how to become a Applebee's.

A monolight has an incandescent or halogen or LED modeling light system, and ALSO an electronic flash tube and capacitor. What is on all the time (if you want it to be on) is the modeling light. The flash fires when the shutter is tripped. Multiple units can be synchronized with their in-built optical slaves, OR by radio or infrared or other types of electronic remote transceiver or transmitter/receiver set-ups.

Again--if you want to learn, you'll learn what advice to follow and stop acting like you already know it all already.

I'm out.
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Im Out
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