Using flash outdoors

gossamer

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Hi, I have a D500 and was using my 24-70mm 2.8 and my SB700 last night to take profile pictures.

I dialed back the flash output, to between -0.7 and -2.3 but some of the pictures looked like the light was too harsh. (I wish I was better at reviewing the pictures in the field, but can't always tell, even with my eye loupe).

Lowering the flash output also had the effect of not lighting the background as well.

Would something like this flash light modifier work in this situation?
Lastolite Joe McNally Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 Plus LL LS2430JM B&H

I believe Lastolite is owned by Manfrotto. Perhaps there's other solutions I should consider?

Flash is one of the areas of photography where I need the most help.

Thank you!
 

photo1x1.com

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Hi,
using a softbox would make your light softer, but if you use TTL, the brightness might still turn out exactly the same. Maybe you can give us an example of your images.
Flash sounds more intimidating than it actually is.
A flash will always light the subjects more that are closer to it. The further the subject is away (background), the less light it will get.
If you want the background to be nicely lit, you need to expose for the background, and only add flash for the foreground to pop. You can lower your shutter speed quite a lot for this, because your flash will freeze the action. And more often than not, the background is out of focus anyway so camera shake is not an issue either. This technique is called dragging the shutter, as I have learned from Derrel.
People too often want to use Speedlight to expose the complete scene. Sometimes there is no other choice, when it is pitch dark. But in a great image, flash should usually only add light, not light the whole scene.
If you are indoors, consider bouncing the light off the ceiling directing the flash against it.
 

Braineack

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profile pictures? like for Linkedin?

if you are outdoors, what is the background you are lighting?

dialing the flash back down to -2EV seems about normal for fill.


in the scenario you describe, i'd setup the camera's exposure to get the background i want, then without changing anything else, add in flash until my face was at the exposure level I was happy with.
 

chuasam

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maybe it's set for x250 sync and it was so bright that 1/4000 would have been the right exposure
 

fmw

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The purpose of that gizmo is to increase the size of the light source in order to soften the light. I think it would be a good thing for macro shots or shots of anything small. It probably won't make a meaningful difference for a portrait. I recommend buying a large piece of white foam core or anything neutral, reflective and large and using it to bounce the light onto the subject. That will soften it substantially. Reflectors are very useful for outdoor people pictures.
 

astroNikon

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I would do what Braineack recommends in relation to background exposure then balancing the person with Fill Flash.

Oddly of the few outdoor shots I've done I've yet to have a day that wasn't windy where anyone holding anything would just sail away.

I like those OEM white bulbous plastic caps that nikon provides to diffuse light. Keeps things from flying away. I always have my foldable popup diffuser/reflectors with me too but have rarely used them due to the wind. I also have a mini reflector for events, and one of those Lastolite type small softboxes which I've never used outdoors though it's used for studio hairlights.
 

benhasajeep

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If you had another camera besides the D500 I would say take off the flash and use it to the side, and use the on camera flash. But for you that won't work. I would pick up a couple inexpensive 2nd and 3rd flashes. You need one on camera to trip the others since you have D500. One at an angle to the side, and one for the background. You don't have to have Nikon flashes. Any flash with an optical sensor will work. You just have to set their power manually at each flash. Strobist has a lot of information on flash photography.

If you chose to go with Nikon flashes you can use your SB-700 in commander mode and control the other Nikon flashes. But unless your in a rush, setting them manually is not that much a pain. I am sure others will chime in with some 3rd party flashes that work well with Nikons. I have over a dozen Nikon flashes from several generations of lights going back to SB-25's. They all work as manual remotes even though they are much older than Nikons current CLS system.

If buying a couple flashes is out of the question. A reflector will help with the harsh light. For backgrounds, really need a light just for that. Helps bring the subject away from the background. And speaking of that. Make sure subject is not too close to the background as well.
 
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gossamer

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If you had another camera besides the D500 I would say take off the flash and use it to the side, and use the on camera flash. But for you that won't work. I would pick up a couple inexpensive 2nd and 3rd flashes. You need one on camera to trip the others since you have D500. One at an angle to the side, and one for the background. You don't have to have Nikon flashes. Any flash with an optical sensor will work. You just have to set their power manually at each flash. Strobist has a lot of information on flash photography.

If you chose to go with Nikon flashes you can use your SB-700 in commander mode and control the other Nikon flashes. But unless your in a rush, setting them manually is not that much a pain. I am sure others will chime in with some 3rd party flashes that work well with Nikons. I have over a dozen Nikon flashes from several generations of lights going back to SB-25's. They all work as manual remotes even though they are much older than Nikons current CLS system.

If buying a couple flashes is out of the question. A reflector will help with the harsh light. For backgrounds, really need a light just for that. Helps bring the subject away from the background. And speaking of that. Make sure subject is not too close to the background as well.

Thanks so much. You guys are all amazing. I plan to buy a few more flashes, perhaps even other SB700s, but I want to make sure I know what I'm doing first. I was also thinking of buying a few Manfrotto 1004BAC 4-section stands and some unbrellas. Would the Nikon CLS work properly with my SB700 in the hotshoe then two additional under umbrellas on the light stands? Is that how it's intended?

I get confused when it's necessary to involve the wifi devices, and the limitations with high-speed sync, etc.
 

benhasajeep

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The thing with Nikon and their flashes to be controlled by the camera / commander light. Is they have to be line of sight. There is a little sensor window on the side of the flash. It receives and transmits a signal. But your flash head will turn 180 degrees both directions. So, you can always point that sensor window towards the camera / controlling flash. You just have to make sure the umbrella is not covering the sensor window. Now there is an angle and distance limit to these sensors. It is in the manuals. But for the most part for normal operations you will not be near the limits. With the flashes set appropriately. You will be able to control all the flashes from the camera / commander flash on top of the camera.

Now if you want to save some money. You can get much cheaper third party flashes and have them in manual mode. If they have optical trigger sensors you need nothing else. They go off when they sense the main flash on the camera going off. Also there are radio controllers made by several companies. Some are just called triggers and just fire the flashes. While other more expensive ones specifically work with Nikons, or Canons, or other cameras.
 
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gossamer

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The thing with Nikon and their flashes to be controlled by the camera / commander light. Is they have to be line of sight. There is a little sensor window on the side of the flash. It receives and transmits a signal. But your flash head will turn 180 degrees both directions. So, you can always point that sensor window towards the camera / controlling flash. You just have to make sure the umbrella is not covering the sensor window. Now there is an angle and distance limit to these sensors. It is in the manuals. But for the most part for normal operations you will not be near the limits. With the flashes set appropriately. You will be able to control all the flashes from the camera / commander flash on top of the camera.

The signal it transmits is separate from the flash itself?

Does a typical flash/umbrella setup, with I suppose one set to the left of the camera and one set to the right of the camera and the third flash on the hotshoe typically allow for this?

Now if you want to save some money. You can get much cheaper third party flashes and have them in manual mode. If they have optical trigger sensors you need nothing else. They go off when they sense the main flash on the camera going off. Also there are radio controllers made by several companies. Some are just called triggers and just fire the flashes. While other more expensive ones specifically work with Nikons, or Canons, or other cameras.

I've looked at the Yongnuo YN685 instead of the SB700s, but is the flash intensity able to be controlled easily?

I've also looked at the triggers. The ones I would buy bring the price of the flash close to the SB700s, it seems. Do they have any benefits over the Nikon CLS with a set of the SB700s? I suppose it would beyond just line-of-sight?
 
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gossamer

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I also wanted to share an example of the problem I was having with the single SB700.

Here's the NEF:
Dropbox - _DSC5794.NEF

This is with my 24-700mm at 70mm, 250, f3.2 1/80th. It was much darker than this picture shows. Some have said on this thread that it's okay to keep the shutter speed low because the flash will stop any movement. I've found that even with the flash, anything below 1/125th just isn't safe, even with the flash. Is that true?

Do you see this picture as overexposed (my original question in this thread)? Interestingly, selecting "auto" in Camera Raw in photoshop thinks it's underexposed and adds a half a stop (+0.50) to the exposure.

I've also attached a lower resolution JPG without any editing.
 

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benhasajeep

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The thing with Nikon and their flashes to be controlled by the camera / commander light. Is they have to be line of sight. There is a little sensor window on the side of the flash. It receives and transmits a signal. But your flash head will turn 180 degrees both directions. So, you can always point that sensor window towards the camera / controlling flash. You just have to make sure the umbrella is not covering the sensor window. Now there is an angle and distance limit to these sensors. It is in the manuals. But for the most part for normal operations you will not be near the limits. With the flashes set appropriately. You will be able to control all the flashes from the camera / commander flash on top of the camera.

The signal it transmits is separate from the flash itself?

Does a typical flash/umbrella setup, with I suppose one set to the left of the camera and one set to the right of the camera and the third flash on the hotshoe typically allow for this?

Now if you want to save some money. You can get much cheaper third party flashes and have them in manual mode. If they have optical trigger sensors you need nothing else. They go off when they sense the main flash on the camera going off. Also there are radio controllers made by several companies. Some are just called triggers and just fire the flashes. While other more expensive ones specifically work with Nikons, or Canons, or other cameras.

I've looked at the Yongnuo YN685 instead of the SB700s, but is the flash intensity able to be controlled easily?

I've also looked at the triggers. The ones I would buy bring the price of the flash close to the SB700s, it seems. Do they have any benefits over the Nikon CLS with a set of the SB700s? I suppose it would beyond just line-of-sight?

Yes, the flashes on the left and right of camera will work. The sensor is on the right side of the flash. Shooting through the umbrellas the flash on the left of camera will be pointing to the camera anyway. The one on the right you will have to turn the flash head 180 degrees. Then the sensor window will be towards the camera. The body will be backwards the but head will be towards the subject.

If using the umbrellas to bounce light it will be opposite. The one on right will be normal with the sensor towards camera, and the one on left will be turned 180 degrees.
 

benhasajeep

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The rule of thumb with minimal movement is 1/focal length. If at 70mm. Then need at least 1/70 shutter. So maybe 1/60 if your good. 1/125 to be safe. This is for camera shake / movement. In sunlight like outdoors the camera will still pick up movement even with flash. So its good to have the higher sync speed to stop motion. As long as the shutter is open it will record what it sees. So, in sunlight it will see the scene even after the flash has fired. And the rear curtain is still moving. So better to have faster shutter.
 

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First of all let me just raise my concern in regard to optical triggers outdoors. In sunlight I have had very bad results (they were just not triggering) - but I don´t know the nikon system. Radio triggers are much more reliable and versatile outdoors.
In regard to brands: if you know how flash works, a flah is a flash, is a flash. I have used Nissin too and heard great things about Yongnuo. Some of them are not only much cheaper, but also easier to use than the known brand. You only need one trigger, so that would bring the price of the package down.
What you definitely want is High Speed Sync or something similar to keep the aperture wide open for the blurred background.

In regard to your image: that is actually quite nice. I would definitely not say it is overexposed, and the light isn´t really harsh either. You are evolving, my friend - that is why you get very, very critical with your own imagery. That is a good thing (well, not really - your images get better, but you yourself will be even less satisfied than before ;) )

I also wanted to share an example of the problem I was having with the single SB700.

Here's the NEF:
Dropbox - _DSC5794.NEF

This is with my 24-700mm at 70mm, 250, f3.2 1/80th. It was much darker than this picture shows. Some have said on this thread that it's okay to keep the shutter speed low because the flash will stop any movement. I've found that even with the flash, anything below 1/125th just isn't safe, even with the flash. Is that true?

Do you see this picture as overexposed (my original question in this thread)? Interestingly, selecting "auto" in Camera Raw in photoshop thinks it's underexposed and adds a half a stop (+0.50) to the exposure.

I've also attached a lower resolution JPG without any editing.
 

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