would i need special lighting?


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Nov 5, 2008
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Warwickshire UK
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If I were planning on making some portrait shots indoors would i need special lighting to get decent images? I only have the built in flash on my d40 and wuld like to do something more creaive than stark shots..thanks
what wouldi need to spend on such equipment? would this be somthing added onto the camera or seperate ligting?

what is th main purpose of the built in flash really then? most my stuff has been outside so i have used it a few times on ovrcast days for flower close ups
The built in flash just doesnt help with the photos. They usually will come out pretty poorly but some flash is better than no flash. As far as what it would cost you to get something like the set up that Chris mentioned plan on $300 at least.

Now as to your original question do you need special lighting to shoot indoor portraits the answer is no. You can pull it off with natural light from windows or even the lighting from the room you are in. Are they going to be professional looking shots its possible it just depends on how well you as the photographer can work with what you have.
The build-in flash, you can use it for some snapshot type photos when use it indoor. Or you can use it to fill in some shadows under the sun.

And yes, as Chris mentioned, it is better to use a off camera flash for portrait shots. Or multiple off camera flashes. (diffused the light if needed)
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so all in all its better to try and take portraits outside on overcast days and go for th subtle look or buy the external flashes? or rely on natural light via a window
what wouldi need to spend on such equipment?
For a real basic setup? Not too much if you go with one light...you would just need the Speedlite/flash unit, a light stand, a umbrella swivel, an umbrella and some way to trigger the flash (wireless radio trigger, hard wired sync cord, etc...).
would this be somthing added onto the camera or seperate ligting?
The flash would be off the camera on a stand but connected to the camera either by sync cord or a wireless remote of some sort.

Portrait Lighting For Beginners: Portraits With One Light

Portrait Lighting Basics

what is th main purpose of the built in flash really then?
For fill flash when shooting outdoors...it's about the only time the pop-up flash doesn't ruin the picture.
why dos the flah need to be off the camera? and not on te hotshoe?
You can get away with a hot shoe flash if it has the capability to swivel so it can be bounced off of walls or ceilings. You then have to deal with color casting and all the fun that brings if the walls aren't white.

Flash off camera makes light look more natural, providing sculpting and depth to an image. It's far, far more flattering. The only people that see the world with the light coming directly from on top of their eyes are miners. From directly on top of the camera, everything gets washed out and it can (will) create extremely harsh shadows.
why dos the flah need to be off the camera? and not on te hotshoe?
You can use it on the hot shoe, just don't point it straight at the subject or you'll get harsh light and hard shadows.

When using an external flash on the camera you want to bounce the flash off something to help diffuse the light and soften the shadows.

Bouncing flash.

But when you put the flash off-camera on a stand you have more creative control of the light since you would have directional control...you can light from the left, light from the right, light from behind, light from below or light from above.

Strobist: Lighting 101

Strobist: Lighting 102
The built in flash is really just for people who really aren't into flash photography. More of a P&S kinda deal.

As for the off camera flashes, SB-600's triggered by Cactus V2s would work.
You should check out the strobist.com

They have a great site that talks about using a Nikon Creative Lighting set up. Using one sb600 or sb800 through an umbrella to the right of the subject to give a nice portrait lighting.

This lighting idea is extremely useful. The cost of one sb600 is $200. The the light stand and umbrella is another $40-50 a synch cord and socket is another rough 20-30. But the advantage of paying for this is the flash is just rechargeable battery powered so you can take it any where.

Good luck
Get two vivitar 285HV flashes, and either a set of cheap 'ebay slaves', or PC cords.
Just found this out and thought I'd pass it along...Vivitar went belly up not long ago (read about it here ...scroll down to the post by midwestphotoexchange) and isn't producing flashes anymore. But, Gadget Infinity will be producing the 285 flash under the Cactus brand name and it's called the Cactus KF36.

If you can find Vivitar 285HV flashes and you really want them, don't hesitate...buy them as you won't be able to buy them in the future.

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