Issue with current setup

rachelrach11

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Hey y'all ! I was hoping that someone would so kindly ( or unkindly..... I'll be appreciative for either or) would give me advise on what lighting setup would be ideal for my situation.

I just recently purchased my very first flash kit ( sb700 , 28" Westcott Apollo orb softbox ). I basically started out photographing newborns and children in "natural light" (aka I didn't understand and had no idea what I was doing with artificial light) until this point.


Although im far from and expert using this type setup, ive taught myself a lot with feathering the light and really liked the consistency of the newborn images that I've been getting.


A few weeks ago i ran into a huge problem using this same lighting setup while photographing a "smash cake" (1st birthday) . Only every 3rd or 4th image came out ok and the rest were so over exposed that they were beyond saving. I realized that this was due to the recycle time of the flash and while thats not an issue with a sleeping newborn, its a HUGE issue with a 1 year old smashing into his/her cake for the first time...


I photographed a sweet girl in a super dark basement and also had trouble getting the camera to focus because there was no light what so ever! To make a long story long, I would love some advise on what equipment or other lighting setup would be best this type situation ( zero ambient light using contiuious shots in a super dark room that your own eye can hardly SEE your subject). I thought by turning on the overhead flourecent light it would be somewhat benificial ( just to actually be able to see what I was doing) but I still ran into the focus and underexposing issue?


I realize I have sooooo much more to learn but I am bound and determined into figuring it out:)


The two images posted are from recent sessions. The cute little girl with the cake was shot using only natural light. I would love to have a lighting setup ( and know how to use it) with these type sessions when ambient light is not an option.
$RRS_9882_edited-1wmweb.jpg$RRS_67089fb.jpg
 

12sndsgood

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There are people here way more experienced then me. but a couple things you could try is first your iso. if need be bump your iso up. now instead of having to have your flash at full power and taking 4-5 seconds to recharge, maybe your now able to say run the flash at 1/4 power and have a 1 second recharge time. this will also keep you from overheating your flash etc. I'm going to guess that you had to much flash power and so your first shot was way overexposed and then you took a 2nd and 3rd shot while the flash was recharging so as you shot you were getting less and less flash power which was bringing the power down more where you needed it.

another thing you can do is bring a flashlight to your shoot so you can shine on your subject to get the focus. once the focus is attained you can flip to manual to take the shot. Don't really know how well this would work with babies. guess im wondering why your taking shots in totally dark rooms, just seems like a disaster waiting to happen. possibly tripping on something not seeing what your doing etc. i'd just try and shoot in better lit areas.
 

cgipson1

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Normally I would recommend an external battery pack ... it would give you faster recycle time, less heat in the flash, etc... but the SB700 does not have the jack for an external pack like the SB900 / 910 does. Using a higher ISO ( I assume you were using TTL?) will reduce needed flash output and also give faster recycle times.

Exif does not show flash on either of these images...

As far as focus goes, do you have the focus light turned off on your camera? If so, turn it on.. it will help. Your Flash will also have an IR focus helper.. you need to be utilizing that. Read your manuals on how to use it. I have also used an external focus light... LED, with a 53 degree spread (no hot spots like a normal flashlight). It gives a Spotlight effect in some images, rather interesting.. like the subject is on stage. This is the light in question (I rubber band it to my flash or lens) Tovatec by Intova Mini Wide Angle 220 Lumens LED Torch (white balance is a little off, but not bad.. easily corrected)

On the overexposure, how were you metering? What settings? Post an iimage with exif intact.. can't see what went wrong without that info.
 

sm4him

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I really can't help with the lighting issues, sorry. But I just can't help but ask:

WHY were you doing a photo shoot of a "sweet girl" in a dark basement where you could barely even see?? That seems extremely incongruous to me.
 

cgipson1

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I really can't help with the lighting issues, sorry. But I just can't help but ask:

WHY were you doing a photo shoot of a "sweet girl" in a dark basement where you could barely even see?? That seems extremely incongruous to me.

happens all the time... ambient light birthday shoots with only the candles providing light. They don't provide much... lol!
 
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rachelrach11

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sm4him said:
I really can't help with the lighting issues, sorry. But I just can't help but ask:

WHY were you doing a photo shoot of a "sweet girl" in a dark basement where you could barely even see?? That seems extremely incongruous to me.

It was by far my choice to take the pictures in the basement. There were several people running around in the house and mom asked that we go to the basement away from the chaos.... This situation isnt exactly common but i would love to be prepared for the worst:)
 

sm4him

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I really can't help with the lighting issues, sorry. But I just can't help but ask:

WHY were you doing a photo shoot of a "sweet girl" in a dark basement where you could barely even see?? That seems extremely incongruous to me.

happens all the time... ambient light birthday shoots with only the candles providing light. They don't provide much... lol!

But in a BASEMENT?? I did a lot of odd stuff with my kids, but I never had their birthday parties in the basement.

OP: Sorry, I'm really not trying to be rude or anything, and it really doesn't matter as far as your lighting issues. I just truly never heard of having a kids' party in a dark basement before! :D
 

sm4him

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sm4him said:
I really can't help with the lighting issues, sorry. But I just can't help but ask:

WHY were you doing a photo shoot of a "sweet girl" in a dark basement where you could barely even see?? That seems extremely incongruous to me.

It was by far my choice to take the pictures in the basement. There were several people running around in the house and mom asked that we go to the basement away from the chaos.... This situation isnt exactly common but i would love to be prepared for the worst:)

Ah, okay. So the PARTY wasn't being held in the basement. Now it makes a little more sense. Thanks, and sorry for taking your thread off on a tangent.
 
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rachelrach11

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cgipson1 said:
Normally I would recommend an external battery pack ... it would give you faster recycle time, less heat in the flash, etc... but the SB700 does not have the jack for an external pack like the SB900 / 910 does. Using a higher ISO ( I assume you were using TTL?) will reduce needed flash output and also give faster recycle times.

Exif does not show flash on either of these images...

As far as focus goes, do you have the focus light turned off on your camera? If so, turn it on.. it will help. Your Flash will also have an IR focus helper.. you need to be utilizing that. Read your manuals on how to use it. I have also used an external focus light... LED, with a 53 degree spread (no hot spots like a normal flashlight). It gives a Spotlight effect in some images, rather interesting.. like the subject is on stage. This is the light in question (I rubber band it to my flash or lens) Tovatec by Intova Mini Wide Angle 220 Lumens LED Torch (white balance is a little off, but not bad.. easily corrected)

On the overexposure, how were you metering? What settings? Post an iimage with exif intact.. can't see what went wrong without that info.

Thanks so much for the advise! I was using spot focus. I didnt use flash on these two images. I just hoped by posting that it would somewhat give an example of the type of setup that I like to use.

I'm actually away from my computer at the moment but will gladly post the info when I return in hopes that it'll help shed some light on the situation:)
 
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rachelrach11

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12sndsgood said:
There are people here way more experienced then me. but a couple things you could try is first your iso. if need be bump your iso up. now instead of having to have your flash at full power and taking 4-5 seconds to recharge, maybe your now able to say run the flash at 1/4 power and have a 1 second recharge time. this will also keep you from overheating your flash etc. I'm going to guess that you had to much flash power and so your first shot was way overexposed and then you took a 2nd and 3rd shot while the flash was recharging so as you shot you were getting less and less flash power which was bringing the power down more where you needed it.

another thing you can do is bring a flashlight to your shoot so you can shine on your subject to get the focus. once the focus is attained you can flip to manual to take the shot. Don't really know how well this would work with babies. guess im wondering why your taking shots in totally dark rooms, just seems like a disaster waiting to happen. possibly tripping on something not seeing what your doing etc. i'd just try and shoot in better lit areas.

Thanks so much for the advise!!!! I would have every place lite up like a Christmas tree if it were up to me:) This was the first time that i was directed into a dungeon:)
 

cgipson1

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cgipson1 said:
Normally I would recommend an external battery pack ... it would give you faster recycle time, less heat in the flash, etc... but the SB700 does not have the jack for an external pack like the SB900 / 910 does. Using a higher ISO ( I assume you were using TTL?) will reduce needed flash output and also give faster recycle times.

Exif does not show flash on either of these images...

As far as focus goes, do you have the focus light turned off on your camera? If so, turn it on.. it will help. Your Flash will also have an IR focus helper.. you need to be utilizing that. Read your manuals on how to use it. I have also used an external focus light... LED, with a 53 degree spread (no hot spots like a normal flashlight). It gives a Spotlight effect in some images, rather interesting.. like the subject is on stage. This is the light in question (I rubber band it to my flash or lens) Tovatec by Intova Mini Wide Angle 220 Lumens LED Torch (white balance is a little off, but not bad.. easily corrected)

On the overexposure, how were you metering? What settings? Post an iimage with exif intact.. can't see what went wrong without that info.

Thanks so much for the advise! I was using spot focus. I didnt use flash on these two images. I just hoped by posting that it would somewhat give an example of the type of setup that I like to use.

I'm actually away from my computer at the moment but will gladly post the info when I return in hopes that it'll help shed some light on the situation:)

What METERING system were you using... as that can affect flash exposure significantly. If there is a huge dark background, and you are using a wide matrix type metering, it will see all that dark, and factor it into the exposure.... and your foreground / subject gets fried! If you were using spot metering.. and meter on the subject, that should have been more accurate (assuming the spot was on the subject). Nikons work well with that.. especially at 100 to 400 ISO... sometimes higher ISOs need some EC...
 
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rachelrach11

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sm4him said:
Ah, okay. So the PARTY wasn't being held in the basement. Now it makes a little more sense. Thanks, and sorry for taking your thread off on a tangent.

No your fine! I just appreciate your input!! It probably doesn't help that I'm not the best on explaining things;)
 
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rachelrach11

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cgipson1 said:
What METERING system were you using... as that can affect flash exposure significantly. If there is a huge dark background, and you are using a wide matrix type metering, it will see all that dark, and factor it into the exposure.... and your foreground / subject gets fried! If you were using spot metering.. and meter on the subject, that should have been more accurate (assuming the spot was on the subject). Nikons work well with that.. especially at 100 to 400 ISO... sometimes higher ISOs need some EC...

So sorry for the typo. Yes , i used spot metering with single focus
 

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Please take this as from someone who really doesn't know. My information is rather second hand and anecdotal, but I have been told that flash photography can be damaging to newborn eyes and brains. One doctor a decade ago told me it had something to with retina's that are still forming and iris's that tend to stay open more than they need to. This is really more of a request by me for education from someone who is working in the field (you) than a hack (me) instructing anyone. When my kids were new the pediatrician strongly advised steady indirect light for photography, he told me in no uncertain terms no blinking light and no point sources of light. This might be a an interesting topic in it's own right, maybe I should start a new thread in open forum instead of hijacking this one.
 

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I know there have been posts talking about this and things debunking this but I couldn't for the life of me point you towards them.
 

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