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Old 23rd of November 2007 (Fri)   #1
pjtemplin
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Default First Strobist-style experiments

Upon request in another thread (http://photography-on-the.net/forum/...=409630&page=2), I've decided to document my trials and tribulations with Strobist-style lighting in my living room. I'll try to document my thought processes and provide example shots as I go, along with step-by-step instructions on how to dial in the flashes.

I said "Strobist-style" as I've taken a distinct departure from pure Strobist - I'm using Canon's wireless E-TTL II functionality and do NOT have Pocket Wizards at this time. I've amazed myself at what I can come up with, using three 580EX II flashes, an OC-E3 off-camera cord, and an assortment of goodies from Honl Photo (two Speed Straps, two Gobos, a 5" Shorty Snoot, and a kit of gels). I wish I had a few more of the Honl goodies, and I'll probably order them soon; I'm just not the right person to be messing with scissors and such to trim velcro. I've stuck with wireless E-TTL since I can adjust my flash balance from the camera-attached flash, and will likely add more flash units so I can use the on-camera flash as ONLY a signalling device and not have to string the off-camera cord tight as a banjo cord to get some lighting angles.

Up next: the first experiment.
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Old 23rd of November 2007 (Fri)   #2
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Default Re: First Strobist-style experiments

So, my poor subject is a box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (hereafter "the box" or KMC) sitting on a small wooden table in my living room. Ambient lighting is a 100W incandescent bulb in a table lamp to the (camera) left of the box. All shots are directly out of the camera, loaded straight onto my webserver, and auto-resized to suit its settings. Feel free to visit the site at http://photos.templin.org/gallery/photo-flash1 for higher resolution images.

Here's the box on the table:
1/40, f/4, ISO 2000 (Av, AWB)


Here's the box on the table with on-camera flash. Notice the white imbalance between the (daylight) flash and the (tungsten) ambient:
1/80, f/4, ISO 2000 (Av, AWB)


Next, it's time to balance the flash color with ambient. I'm NOT an expert at colors, so it's experimentation time. I started with the 1/4 CTO, then 1/2 CTO, then 3/4 CTO finally seemed to match the ambient to my eyes:
1/100, f/4, ISO 2000 (Av, AWB)


Now that I think I'm in the right zone, it's time to take control of white balance. It's been on auto up until now, but I've just changed it to Tungsten (3200K):
1/100, f/4, ISO 2000 (Av, Tungsten WB)


Now, the flash goes off-camera right, 45 degrees, and a 30 degree downward angle.
1/80, f/4, ISO 2000 (Av, Tungsten WB)


This feels awful "down lighting" to me, so I brought the flash lower, to perhaps a 15 degree downward angle.
1/100, f/4, ISO 2000 (Av, Tungsten WB)


I still feel like I need to ease up on the shadow a bit, so I bring the flash down to about the level of the top of the box.
1/80, f/4, ISO 2000 (Av, Tungsten WB)


More in the next reply...
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Old 23rd of November 2007 (Fri)   #3
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Default Re: First Strobist-style experiments

Oops, I forgot my Strobist lesson - drop the ambient exposure to -2.
1/60, f/4, ISO 500 (Av, Tungsten WB)


Wow, a great "pop" from the flash, but maybe too dark overall. Let's bring ambient to -1.
1/60, f/4, ISO 1000 (Av, Tungsten WB)


So, who ever thought a box of Mac 'N Cheese could look so good? Hold on a bit, and we'll see it really come alive!

Up next, I add a second highlight flash to offset the ambient (and maybe get rid of it).

* Some variances in exposure could be due to the TV in the background showing various hockey games. Sorry!
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Old 23rd of November 2007 (Fri)   #4
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Default Re: First Strobist-style experiments

OK, it's time to dial in a second flash to have some fun with the box. For the moment, I've very limited by my lack of light stands - flash 1 is on a tripod, but now I'm out of stands so everything else will be propped up and such.

First I set up the master flash. Hold the Zoom button for two seconds, spin the wheel right for Master, hit set. Hit zoom twice to get to Ratio control, spin the wheel right for A:B, hit set.

Next I set up the B slave flash. Hold the Zoom button for two seconds, spin the wheel right twice for Slave, hit set. Hit zoom three times to get to A/B/C control, spin the wheel right for B, hit set.

So I'm looking for some effects with the B flash: since I'm balancing for tungsten, Window Green is out (in my guess), and I'm saving the effect colors (red, blue, green) for the background. 1/4 and 1/2 CTO were too weak, so I went with the full CTO, manually set the zoom to 105mm, and put a snoot on the flash.

So, what do we get? Here's a progression of shots, all Manual at 1/60th, f/4, ISO 1000.

8:1 A:B -


4:1 A:B -


2:1 A:B -


1:1 A:B -


1:2 A:B -


1:4 A:B -


1:8 A:B -


So what am I seeing? A slightly warmer tone as the B is dialed in, but with more flash shadow on the background wall.

What next? I kill the ambient, moving me to an (almost) all-flash exposure.
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Old 23rd of November 2007 (Fri)   #5
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Default Re: First Strobist-style experiments

Picking up from the last series, I've turned off the tungsten lamp alongside the box, to more expose the effect of the B flash. All shots are Manual, 1/50th, f/4, ISO 1000.

8:1 A:B -


4:1 A:B -


2:1 A:B -


1:1 A:B -


1:2 A:B -


1:4 A:B -


1:8 A:B -


So what am I seeing? No significant change in warmth, but a drastic shift in shadow. The B flash is propped on my couch, 45 degrees off-camera-left.

What next? I add a color effect on the C flash to really add some pizzazz to the shot.
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Old 23rd of November 2007 (Fri)   #6
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Default Re: First Strobist-style experiments

So now it's time for some fun with the background. Unfortunately, I only have two of the Honl Speed Straps, so I have to steal the 3/4 CTO off the A flash to be able to play with the C flash. As a result, I changed the B flash to a 1/4 CTO and changed my white balance to Flash. All shots are Manual, 1/50th, f/4, ISO 1000, Flash WB. The C flash is on the floor, manually zoomed to 50mm, half covered by the Light Red, half covered by the Primary Blue, and gobo'ed to prevent spill into the camera.

1:1 A:B, -3 C


1:1 A:B, -2 C


1:1 A:B, -1 C


1:1 A:B, +0 C


1:1 A:B, +1 C


1:1 A:B, +2 C


1:1 A:B, +3 C


After the break, I'll bring the C flash back into range and fiddle with the A:B ratio again.
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Old 23rd of November 2007 (Fri)   #7
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Default Re: First Strobist-style experiments

1:1 A:B, +1/3 C (I eyeballed the results, decided a small amount of boost would work well, and ran with it):


1:2 A:B, +1/3 C (I wanted more warmth and pop):


1:4 A:B, +1/3 C:


1:8 A:B, +1/3 C:


Early lessons learned: As much fun as the 1D Mk III might be to put into high ISO, it's awful easy to have too much - the flashes can only go down to 1/128th of full power, and you can hit a range where they can't dial down to the requested power.

Peruse, and feel free to ask questions.
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Old 24th of November 2007 (Sat)   #8
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Default Re: First Strobist-style experiments

I think I want to eat Macaroni and Cheese now...

Well done! I'm on a 580EX + AB800 setup myself. Contemplating on picking up another AB800 or a 580EX II for a third light...
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Old 24th of November 2007 (Sat)   #9
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Default Re: First Strobist-style experiments

Thanks for posting this....

I've not read the entire thing yet but will later today...questions may follow.
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Old 24th of November 2007 (Sat)   #10
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Default Re: First Strobist-style experiments

I know the manual could be read...but then hanging out on the forum would not be as much fun.

Would you mind posting a reciepe type directions on how you setup the flash units..maybe just two of them?
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Old 24th of November 2007 (Sat)   #11
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Default Re: First Strobist-style experiments

Are you looking for what's in post #4? Or, can you clarify what you're asking for?
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Old 24th of November 2007 (Sat)   #12
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Default Re: First Strobist-style experiments

I thought about this some more, and I think I can highlight the key points of what you're after.

If you hold the zoom button for two seconds, you go into Off/Master/Slave selection. Once you're done, hitting the zoom button starts a circular selection of functions:

Manual Zoom - Ratio Selection - Channel Selection - Master Flash On/Off

Hitting the set button from an idle flash starts a circular selection of functions:

FEC - FEB - A:B Ratio Control - C Ratio Control*

* You'll have to hit the set button twice to loop around to this function. You'll know you're on the C Ratio control when you don't see the lightning bolt on the left and you do see the C ratio amount over the little wireless flash icon.

If you've enabled Ratios (A:B or A:B C), you can spin the wheel any time you're not programming something to adjust the A:B Ratio (you don't have to get to the right spot in the programming to adjust that).

Ratio Selection signifies no ratios/A:B ratios/A:B C ratios.
Channel Selection is 1-4
Master Flash On/Off enables/disables whether the on-camera flash contributes to the lighting of the exposure.
FEC is Flash Exposure Compensation
FEB is Flash Exposure Bracketing
A:B Ratio Control signifies the balance between the A group and B group.
C Ratio Control is the balance between the C group and the A:B mix.
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Old 24th of November 2007 (Sat)   #13
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Default Re: First Strobist-style experiments

For some reason, I can't view your pictures. I tried reloading several times but they won't show up.
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Old 24th of November 2007 (Sat)   #14
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Default Re: First Strobist-style experiments

They show up fine for me...
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Old 24th of November 2007 (Sat)   #15
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Default Re: First Strobist-style experiments

Can you go to the website shown in post #2 and view the pictures directly?

For what it's worth, I've been getting random alerts about mild performance degradation at work (I do computer networking by day, so the photos.templin.org server lives at work). I'm not seeing anything concrete as a root cause though.
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