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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Weddings & Other Family Events Talk
Thread started 29 May 2017 (Monday) 21:29
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Tips for using flash (with v high ceilings & non-white walls)

 
alixpod
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Post has been edited 6 months ago by alixpod.
May 29, 2017 21:29 |  #1

Hi everyone. I've been shooting events at one venue for a while but am not fully satisfied with my photos. The two rooms these events are held in (the library and main room) both have very high and dark wooden ceilings. The library has no white walls to bounce off of (it's either windows or book stacks), and the main room is large where I'm not near a wall when taking photos.

So. I am still getting used to shooting with flash without bouncing off the ceiling and getting crisp results. I shoot with a 5D Mk II, 24-70 2.8 and a 430ex speedlight. I usually use a white envelope rubber-banded to the flash as a longer bounce card which I think has helped give more even light on people compared to when I didn't use it. However, I do find myself having to bring down the highlights and bring up the shadows in post production quite often. On the flash I shoot TTL with a Stoffen diffuser at 24mm pointing straight up with the envelope, so it doesn't seem like I can bring the strength of the flash down any more. The settings on my camera most recently have been at f5 iso 1600 1/60. I have some other photos that have a faster shutter speed or that combined with ISO 2000 that seem to require the same editing in post production, often bringing highlights or exposure down to soften some of the flash harshness while pulling the shadows up a bit to bring out more of the background, which I then find leave the images dull. There must be a better way to get cleaner shots that require little-to-no editing afterwards while using flash. Angle the flash differently? Use a smaller bounce card like what comes on the speedlight (I think I had used a smaller white bounce card before the envelope, though I don't remember much difference)?

I also have problems when there is a speaker at a podium in the main room, as the lighting is dim with no direct spotlight on the speaker, and my flash doesn't go as far reflecting off of the envelope as a bounce card. Turning up the intensity of the flash doesn't seem to help nor does pointing the flash at the speaker from a farther distance. I'm generally standing about 10-15 feet away from them.

I've been trying to find articles or posts online that address this issue past the basics but to no avail. Any help is appreciated!




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Amadauss
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May 30, 2017 08:31 |  #2

Can you post some examples or a link to see some of the photos?


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alixpod
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May 30, 2017 14:37 |  #3

Ok so here's an example of an original image and my edit afterward. This is a more extreme initial example (though it looked more extreme in Lightroom than before I uploaded it) I think because there's more people in the photo, usually at these events its groups of two or three that don't have the background quite as dark. This actually isn't at one of the above mentioned venues, but you can see the ceiling is still high and dark.

I shot the image at ISO 2000, f4 at 1/60, with the flash likely at 24mm straight up bounced off the envelope with a Stoffen diffuser on the flash. Along with cooling the temperature, I ended up bringing the highlights down to -70 and shadows up to +56, while bringing the exposure up a pinch at +0.25. I don't like to use such extremes for either highlights or shadows because the end result looks quite gray, especially when many images I have to pull highlights and shadows even half that far.

What I'm looking for ultimately is to figure out how to better work with my flash (or change my camera settings) so I don't have to do so much editing after the fact.


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huntersdad
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May 30, 2017 22:57 as a reply to alixpod's post |  #4

Assuming they are SOOC then edited version, I actually like the first one better.


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F2Bthere
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May 31, 2017 00:51 |  #5

Can you set up lights?

One common trick is to put strobes up high in a couple corners and fire them from your camera. They are pointed down from opposite corners towards each other's base. Any part of the room will get some illumination and, combined with your on-camera flash, you get less flat light. What you get varies based on your angle. On camera is TTL. I'd set stand lights as fixed, but I'm not into multiple TTL flash setups (not to say that's bad--Joe McNally would probably do it:). )

I've heard of photographers setting three lights in corners on different channels and controlling which fire based on where they are--a bit too complicated for my taste, but they seemed happy with it.

In any case, you would want time to test it.

Considerations: flash power setting, sufficient battery power for strobes on stands (and noticing if one goes down), securing stands, recycle time... Test, test, test :)


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alixpod
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Jun 02, 2017 14:02 |  #6

I don't have extra lights and the gigs are much more informal than needing to set up lights elsewhere in the room. It's just me, my camera and speedlight.

If nobody has tips, anyone have links to some good website pages with speedlight flash tips for events?




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DaviSto
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Post has been last edited 6 months ago by DaviSto. 2 edits done in total.
Jun 02, 2017 14:36 |  #7

Could you smuggle in a reflector? Bounce your light off the reflector and you will have light that is far more diffused. It would be easier if you had a willing victim who would act as your assistant and help with making sure the reflector is well-positioned.

Good reflectors are a whole lot less expensive than lights, stands and wireless controllers.

P.S. If you are looking for good practical advice there is nobody, anywhere, who can provide better/clearer advice on the subject of on-camera flash than Neil van Niekerk (http://neilvn.com/tang​ents/ (external link)). I'd take a look there.


Comment and (constructive) criticism always welcome.

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PhotosGuy
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Jun 02, 2017 15:34 |  #8

huntersdad wrote in post #18367092 (external link)
Assuming they are SOOC then edited version, I actually like the first one better.

Me, too. There's too much blue in the faces in #2.

Looking at the guy at the left, the flash isn't putting out enough power to overcome the crappy overhead lighting.
With the flash straight up bounced off the envelope with a Stoffen diffuser, that diffuser isn't doing you any good with the high ceilings, so you might as well take it off. Or better yet, just bite the bullet, leave the diffuser on, remove the envelope, & point the flash at the targets.
If the Fong diffuser doesn't do the job for you, think about the LumiQuest SoftBox III (external link) which is a 8x9" Surface & only costs $37.00

You said, "so it doesn't seem like I can bring the strength of the flash down any more." If you have a problem with too much light, you can...
1. Back up a little.
2. Add a ND (neutral density) filter.
3. Get a flash that allows you to adjust the output.


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Wilt
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Post has been last edited 6 months ago by Wilt. 3 edits done in total.
Jun 02, 2017 15:39 |  #9

PhotosGuy wrote in post #18369370 (external link)
If the Fong diffuser doesn't do the job for you, think about the LumiQuest SoftBox III (external link) which is a 8x9" Surface

Us 'old timer' film shooters had flash brackets and softboxes on potatomasher Metz flashes for a reason...when there is no convenient ceiling/walls to use for bounce.
Unfortunately now so many are stuck with short little eTTL hotshoe sized flash units that prevent a softbox like this 16" x 20" Chimera from being used mounted in front of a Metz 45 because it blocks the lens (this flash+softbox on a stand, rather than mounted on a flash bracket)

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F2Bthere
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Jun 02, 2017 20:27 |  #10

DaviSto wrote in post #18369323 (external link)
Could you smuggle in a reflector? Bounce your light off the reflector and you will have light that is far more diffused. It would be easier if you had a willing victim who would act as your assistant and help with making sure the reflector is well-positioned.

Good reflectors are a whole lot less expensive than lights, stands and wireless controllers.

P.S. If you are looking for good practical advice there is nobody, anywhere, who can provide better/clearer advice on the subject of on-camera flash than Neil van Niekerk (http://neilvn.com/tang​ents/ (external link)). I'd take a look there.

This is gold. If you don't want to set up a light, exactly what he said: use a reflector, preferably with an assistant and Neil is the on camera flash expert. He literally wrote the book on it.


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alixpod
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Jun 05, 2017 11:58 as a reply to F2Bthere's post |  #11

Thanks for that link, I will check it out! I hadn't been able to find any useful info about using flash (outside of a studio) other than the basics.




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Left ­ Handed ­ Brisket
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Jun 05, 2017 13:01 |  #12

alixpod wrote in post #18366206 (external link)
On the flash I shoot TTL with a Stoffen diffuser at 24mm pointing straight up with the envelope

get rid of the Stoffen and zoom the flash into 105 to bounce.

keep using the white card.


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Jun 05, 2017 13:03 |  #13

Left Handed Brisket wrote in post #18371568 (external link)
get rid of the Stoffen and zoom the flash into 105 to bounce.

keep using the white card.

Quite a long time ago, Curtis N did a test and showed that zooming the flashead to narrowest area did little to increase the intensity of the bounce flash as it strikes the subject.


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Left ­ Handed ­ Brisket
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Post has been last edited 6 months ago by Left Handed Brisket. 2 edits done in total.
Jun 05, 2017 13:15 |  #14

Wilt wrote in post #18371570 (external link)
Quite a long time ago, Curtis N did a test and showed that zooming the flashead to narrowest area did little to increase the intensity of the bounce flash as it strikes the subject.

i found three pages where Neil v mentions flash head zoom, all suggest zooming to the max tight setting.

http://neilvn.com ...l-on-camera-bounce-flash/ (external link)

http://neilvn.com .../discussion/49/flas​h-zoom (external link)

comments section:
http://neilvn.com ...echniques/bouncing-flash/ (external link)

the first link shows a decent example of what I beleive to be true ... you can actually get some shaping of the subjects face/body depending on where you place the bounced flash. If you do not zoom it in it is very difficult to get that effect. It might not mean so much of you are just pointing the flash straight up, but I tend to put the flash to the left/right/back when shooting.

whether it matters much regarding the actual amount of light on the subject, I do not know.


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Wilt
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Post has been edited 6 months ago by Wilt.
Jun 05, 2017 14:37 |  #15

Left Handed Brisket wrote in post #18371585 (external link)
i found three pages where Neil v mentions flash head zoom, all suggest zooming to the max tight setting.

http://neilvn.com ...l-on-camera-bounce-flash/ (external link)

http://neilvn.com .../discussion/49/flas​h-zoom (external link)

comments section:
http://neilvn.com ...echniques/bouncing-flash/ (external link)

the first link shows a decent example of what I beleive to be true ... you can actually get some shaping of the subjects face/body depending on where you place the bounced flash. If you do not zoom it in it is very difficult to get that effect. It might not mean so much of you are just pointing the flash straight up, but I tend to put the flash to the left/right/back when shooting.

whether it matters much regarding the actual amount of light on the subject, I do not know.

I'm not finding the same conclusion as you about zoom head setting.

  • The first link did not seem to have pertinent discussion about zoom head setting; it was mostly about automated vs. manual flash practical considerations. I do see some differences in facial modelling, but the bounce angle also was considerably different as the bride was close to camera, vs. the group shot farther away!
  • The second link had Neil state, "Ed Verosky's comparison is obviously for direct flash. With bounce flash, this pretty much disappears. You have a much larger light source. A massive softbox behind you, whether you have your flash zoomed tight or wide."
    and Chris later said a wideangle setting did not work so well while the normal lens setting worked well (and no statement about tele setting)
  • The comments link didn't seem to touch on zoom head setting either.

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Tips for using flash (with v high ceilings & non-white walls)
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