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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting
Thread started 15 Oct 2017 (Sunday) 02:23
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Nightmare first event, more powerful flash needed?

 
welshwizard1971
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Post has been edited 1 month ago by welshwizard1971.
Oct 15, 2017 02:23 |  #1

Just photographed an informal leaving do at work for a highly valued colleague, so amateur, but, I didn't want to let her down, and what a nightmare it was.

The outside shots were snatched in poor light with terrible backgrounds, a closing down council depot so rubbish backgrounds, cones and work vans everywhere, then it got worse.

The venue was a building that had been closed down for years, extensive drill damage to the heavily stained walls where signs and boards had been removed, stained carpets, with a low white ceiling to bounce a flash off, great, but so dirty, it didn't really bounce, as I found out. Just to complicate things, lots of windows in the background to really stuff the exposure. I was going to keep it simple and just shoot on green box, but it was so cluttered and cramped it kept focusing on the wrong thing. So, I went Av with a tightly clustered focusing cluster, but no joy as any half decent depth of field couldn't be achieved as it was using 1/30 shutter speed, and Tv didn't work as it was defaulting to a stupidly small DOF, and manual, my normal set up, didn't work as once I had a decent Shutter of 1/125 and aperture of f6, the ISO was well into noise territory. The light was terrible, really harsh very white light, made everyone look ill with harsh shadows, but at the same time, didn't give off enough light to get decent settings. And to the crux of my problem, the flash didn't seem to make any difference unless I was really close, it was a 430ex II. I'll admit I panicked and didn't prepare, I'm not a flash guy, I've owned it for years but not really used it, so I just thought I'm indoors, I'll pop on the flash, put it all on auto, bounce off the ceiling, go and eat cake. It very quickly fell apart, and as a result it was a very stressful experience, didn't enjoy it all all.

What really threw me was that the camera wasn't showing me the settings for if the flash fired, only for when it didn't fire, so I couldn't predict what was actually going to happen. I ended up with quite a few shots with really shallow DOF and lowish ISO where I would have happily traded a reduction in ISO for more DOF, soooo many group shots had someone OOF, my main reason for failed shots . I must have been getting this wrong, there must be a way of the camera predicting what was going to happen and seeing the settings, but, I can't seem to find out how? This I suspect was the main failure on my part on the day, not the flash ( later ).

I got about 100 usable shots that people are very happy with, not a hundred I'm happy with I hasten to add, once I'd adjusted the exposure ( so many were under exposed ), light temperature, fixed the walls, carpets etc, but at no point during the event did I feel confident I was getting anything usable. A hundred sounds OK as I write it, but there were so many that didn't come out, and I was taking so many to make sure I got good ones I felt I was really intruding to peoples space. So, looking back, would a better flash have given me more usable settings? I see the 430 has got a GN of 43, the better units 60, so should I chop it in for a new unit? The Godox looks like a no brainer as far as a system goes, but, am I just wasting my time? Should I have just got in closer and really got in peoples faces?

I've no doubt the main failure was my inexperience and inability to predict the settings on the hoof, I've never done this before and didn't prepare properly, but was the flash also a factor that would have helped on the day?

Just to give a flavour here's one of the few shots I was happy with....

IMAGE: https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4469/37448144310_7079934f03_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/Z4aw​Cw] (external link)

5DIII, 40D, 16-35L 35 ART 50 ART 100L macro, 24-70 L Mk2, 135L 200L 70-200L f4 IS
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drmaxx
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Post has been edited 1 month ago by drmaxx.
Oct 15, 2017 03:27 |  #2

I do quite a few of such events as a non professional. In the situation you described (not quite sufficient ambient light) I would go with fully manual and shoot purely in raw - preferred lens: 24-70 to get the flexibility. In manual go for 1/125 (or a little below or above) and adjust the aperture to the group size (2.8 for single person, 5.6 for three or four, ....). Adjust iso to the ambient light, so that you get a pleasing background - and let the on-camera flash pick up the rest for your subject. Looking at your picture above bouncing with the 430EX should do the trick with these settings. I use center point focusing exclusively, aiming at the eyes and adjust picture composition in post. Don't worry about white balance as you can correct this in post.

If you have the cash: Yes, the stronger the flash the more flexibility you get. So you might want to consider getting something more powerful - but as I said, for the setting above the 430 should have done the trick.

Oh, even with decent settings my keeper rate under these circumstances are around 25%. So having 100 decent pictures is not bad.


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welshwizard1971
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Post has been edited 1 month ago by welshwizard1971.
Oct 15, 2017 04:17 |  #3

Oh well that's some comfort I suppose LOL

Just been doing some more reading, this is so much more complicated than I thought, and doesn't work like I thought it would, and flash works differently in different modes!!!! No wonder I was all over the place.

I have found where the setting for the flash shutter speed was, predictably set to auto and not 1/200, so no wonder that was an issue, but I'm not a complete idiot, I knew it was there, why couldn't I find it on the day? Ho hum, panic I suppose....

I did try and do it in manual on the day, and assumed ETTL would sort out the flash, it clearly didn't, but it never occurred to me to put the flash in manual and adjust the flash output, but just testing now, that wouldn't have allowed for the change in subject distances, so some would have been over exposed, some under.

I always had a lot of respect for wedding photographers, I've always seen that as a hard stressful job, but now?? They're on another level, they must be like old style texters on the camera controls......


5DIII, 40D, 16-35L 35 ART 50 ART 100L macro, 24-70 L Mk2, 135L 200L 70-200L f4 IS
Hype chimping - The act of looking at your screen after every shot, then wildly behaving like it's the best picture in the world, to try and impress other photographers around you.

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inkista
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Post has been edited 1 month ago by inkista.
Oct 15, 2017 06:33 |  #4

welshwizard1971 wrote in post #18472967 (external link)
Just been doing some more reading, this is so much more complicated than I thought, and doesn't work like I thought it would, and flash works differently in different modes!!!! No wonder I was all over the place. ...

I tend to tell people that step 0 is being comfortable shooting in M on the camera, and swapping stops among iso, aperture, and shutter speed.

I have found where the setting for the flash shutter speed was, predictably set to auto and not 1/200, so no wonder that was an issue, but I'm not a complete idiot, I knew it was there, why couldn't I find it on the day? Ho hum, panic I suppose....

Actually, setting the camera to P mode is pretty much the same as setting the shutter speed with flash in Av to 1/200s.

I prefer M mode, where you can balance the flash against ambient any way you want, if I'm going to put the flash into TTL and ride the FEC.

I did try and do it in manual on the day, and assumed ETTL would sort out the flash, it clearly didn't...

It may or may not have. You need to know how to adjust your exposure settings to not go past what the flash can pump out, light-wise. ISO 100 and f/8 are a huge ask of any flash, for example. Learn to let the ambient do the heavy lifting. You may still need higher iso settings of, say, 800 and above when using flash.

I would also say, that you may want to read up on Neil van Nierkerk's Black Foamie Thing (external link) and about choosing the direction you're bouncing (external link). Actually, the Tangents website as a whole is really good for learning on-camera flash technique (external link).


I'm a woman. I shoot with a Fuji X100T, Panasonic GX-7, Canon 5DmkII, and 50D. flickr stream (external link)

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Left ­ Handed ­ Brisket
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Post has been last edited 1 month ago by Left Handed Brisket. 2 edits done in total.
Oct 15, 2017 07:07 |  #5

Posting some shots you AREN'T happy with will give us a better starting point to compare and contrast the good and bad.

Exif data is crucial too


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nixland
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Oct 15, 2017 07:28 |  #6

Years ago I used to photograph events.
What I use to do is testing & practicing photoshoot, especially before the events.
Knowing the plus & minus of my gears.

Off course there's always something that I might not anticipated happened at the events but at least we can make decision faster if we know our gears better :)




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John ­ from ­ PA
Cream of the Crop
7,449 posts
Joined May 2003
Southeast Pennsylvania
Post has been last edited 1 month ago by John from PA. 4 edits done in total.
Oct 15, 2017 07:42 |  #7

welshwizard1971 wrote in post #18472923 (external link)
I got about 100 usable shots that people are very happy with, not a hundred I'm happy with I hasten to add, once I'd adjusted the exposure ( so many were under exposed ), light temperature, fixed the walls, carpets etc, but at no point during the event did I feel confident I was getting anything usable. A hundred sounds OK as I write it, but there were so many that didn't come out, and I was taking so many to make sure I got good ones I felt I was really intruding to peoples space. So, looking back, would a better flash have given me more usable settings? I see the 430 has got a GN of 43, the better units 60, so should I chop it in for a new unit? The Godox looks like a no brainer as far as a system goes, but, am I just wasting my time? Should I have just got in closer and really got in peoples faces?

I would suggest you take the 100 usable shots and see what you can do with some post processing. If most people were happy with them, you can probably turn them into a decent documentation of the event.

On the flash, I suggest you learn about what you have before buying another unit that perhaps offers more light. More money, unless it is a lot more money, doesn't gain you a lot more light. Yes, it helps, but isn't the magi bullet. Take an increase of the GN from 43 to 60 for instance. First of all do you know what the GN is? Take a subject at 10 feet, a GN of 43 means you need an f/stop of 4.3. Bumping up the unit to one that offers 60 means you need an f/stop of f/6. Its basically GN divided by distance. Now what other controls do you have that might have worked. I don't know what ISO you used, but bumping it up would have perhaps given you improved images. Also, I find with my 430, I have to dail in about a +1 EC to light things as I desire to see them.

Moving forward, go experiment with your flash until you are comfortable in its use. You might want to download the "cheat sheet" that Canon provides at https://learn.usa.cano​n.com ...ite430EXII_QuickGui​de.pdf (external link) and review the 4-part tutorial at http://cpn.canon-europe.com ...e_most_from_speedli​tes.do (external link) (make sure you select the 430 EX II tab).




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drmaxx
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Oct 15, 2017 09:15 |  #8

welshwizard1971 wrote in post #18472967 (external link)
I did try and do it in manual on the day, and assumed ETTL would sort out the flash, it clearly didn't, but it never occurred to me to put the flash in manual and adjust the flash output, but just testing now, that wouldn't have allowed for the change in subject distances, so some would have been over exposed, some under.

ETTL will sort out the flash and if you want to adjust the light falling on your subject then you should use the flash compensation (e.g. +2/3). I use center focus and partial metering to make sure that the ETTL is giving me enough light for the main subject and use flash compensation for skin tone / cloth color. Try it. Don't add any complexity into a situation that is already very dynamic by trying to adjusting flash output. E.g. I am usually completely busy adjusting aperture, swivel the flash head so that the light comes from the right direction and choose a nice subject to make a pictures. KISS (keep it simple and stupid) all the way.


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Phil ­ V
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Oct 15, 2017 09:17 |  #9

The 430 is easily capable of the job, as you've realised, the photographer wasn't.

What I realised after too long of pro photography is that you have to work 'with' what's in front of you rather than wishing it was something else.

So a group stood far in front of a load of OoF council vans tells a story, roller shutter doors, brick walls, skips can help tell a story, but if you want 'plain' they'll just be in the way.


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bobbyz
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Oct 15, 2017 09:51 |  #10

Assuming you used 5dmk3 in your signature with 35mm f1. Art or the 24-70mm f2.8, not sure what the issue was besides not knowing how to use flash properly. High ISOs with flash would have solved your low power issues. I would post problem shots with exif info.


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abbadon31
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Oct 15, 2017 10:44 |  #11

Here are you setting from Flickr
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
ƒ/2.8
41.0 mm
1/125
Iso 400

Looks like you have enuff flash power just pump you ISO and make sure your bouncing your flash


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digital ­ paradise
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Post has been last edited 1 month ago by digital paradise. 3 edits done in total.
Oct 15, 2017 10:59 |  #12

Nothing like shooting under pressure during your first event. You can plan and prepare but when the moment comes there is no time for anything.

Lots of good advice. My 2 cents. Sometimes you just can't bounce or it is just not working for you. If you are in that position then you have to do what it takes to get the shot. Direct and P mode if you need to. These weren't high end clients that demanded that level of quality. I know from a personal perspective you do want to the best you can. Something to remember in the future. I don't use P mode but if I don't have any other choice I will shoot direct flash. If I do this I crank the ISO way up to bring as much ambient as I can so the flash does not nuke my subjects too much. You can get pleasing results.

A lot of good advice on how to get it to bounce which I won't repeat. I have read many times about people getting into trouble using AV mode in darker environments. Your camera does not care if a flash attached. In AV mode the system will select whatever shutter speed it needs to maintain the aperture you selected. It could go down to 1/10. When you half press the shutter it is metering the ambient light only. The flash event has not taken place yet. The ambient meter in your view finder does not care if there is a flash on your camera. Try this at home in a darker room. Put the flash on, pick a low ISO and half press the shutter. Now turn the flash off and try that again.

The way to have solved AV mode would have been to use the fastest lens you have and/or to crank up the ISO until you got the shutter speed to an acceptable level. There is a member here called smorter who I have not seen post in a while always shot in AV. Nothing wrong with it s long as you make the adjustments to do it. Like stated by others putting the camera in M mode is the best option and you have some good base settings. AV is great for outdoors during the day.

Do some tests with higher ISO's to make sure it works for you. The noise will be higher in the background areas where the flash can not illuminate.

The histogram is your best friend. Take advantage of anything white you subjects have or are wearing. You cannot predict flash exposure unless you have a meter. Use it and the image on your LCD to evaluate and adjust the flashes FEC as required. If no white is present look at the image to judge. I have used an 8 by 10 piece of paper to get set up flash exposure though most of the time it not practical.

Remember this is for flash exposure of your subjects only. It has nothing to do with the ambient light. At events I have used white sweaters, handbags, collars, etc and white table cloths if I needed something. Get the whites right and the rest falls into place.

https://neilvn.com ...am-to-determine-exposure/ (external link)


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digital ­ paradise
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Oct 15, 2017 11:07 |  #13

About AV mode and smorter's shooting style. That link in my previous post is to an on camera flash guru. Neil once commented at POTN about one of smorter's event shots. You don't see that very often.


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Wilt
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Post has been last edited 1 month ago by Wilt. 3 edits done in total.
Oct 15, 2017 11:30 |  #14

One very neglected concept is the Guide Number of a flash, and a key to answering your question about prediction of flash result is knowing what your Guide Number is for your flash! To present the concept initially

Guide Number = f/stop * distance


1. The manufacturers always list the Guide Number for ISO 100.
As you increase ISO, the Guide Number changes..at ISO 400 the GN is twice as high.
The Canon 580EX has GN190 at ISO 100, and GN380 at ISO 400. It used to be that most every photographer understood the concept, but with reliance on automation, it is a significantly mysterious mumbo-jumbo topic to many!

2. Unfortunately, modern zoom flashes can lie to us...On a Canon 580EXII, Canon lists its guide number as 58(meters) or 190(feet), but that applies only to when the flash head is zoomed to its 105mm tele position!

If you read the manual, you discover its GN when set to 24mm FL is a merely GN92...if you shot at f/4, the max distance that would result in a satisfactory exposure only to 23' (GN92 = f/4 * 23') and if your subject is at 46' they would be -2EV underexposed (GN92 = 48' * f/2) when your lens is zoomed to 24mm (assumes FF flash coverage angle). Or if you tried to shoot a subject at 23' but used f/8, similarly you would be underexposed by -2EV.

So, understanding the above puts you into mumbo-jumbo land, but able to predict in advance the failure to get satisfactory exposure.

Fortunately with most meters technology bails you out, the LCD will show the Max Distance that flash will reach for the chosen f/stop and ISO and FL, so reading that would have alerted you to your situation of underexposed shots.


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Angmo
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Post has been last edited 1 month ago by Angmo. 2 edits done in total.
Oct 15, 2017 12:34 |  #15

I don’t experience these issues. I simply do not shoot EttL/TTL My camera cannot read my mind. I read my cameras mind. I control the settings. I’ll evaluate the location and lighting design and shoot away.

I even shot a 50th wedding anniversary using a Rolleiflex medium format camera with on-camera Metz flash. FiLM. No digital back to peek at.

Pics came out just fine. People dancing and moving around. Dark inside. ISO 100 film. 12 shots per roll of film.

Totally manual. Manual everything - Shutter speed, manual focus, aperture flash exposure. The whole thing.

Dont totally depend on the fancy automatic stuff. It’s does what it can but won’t read your mind. It’ll expose for an average scene. What do you take that’s average?

Manual focus on folks dancing and moving about? Set aperture and use hyperfocal distance to keep things in focus.


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Nightmare first event, more powerful flash needed?
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