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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 02 Aug 2012 (Thursday) 12:17
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Why Should I Buy A Flash Bracket?

 
Ralph ­ III
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Aug 02, 2012 12:17 |  #1

Hello All,

I'm considering a Stroboframe Camera flip but am hesitant and have a few questions, having never used a bracket before.

I like to use reflectors/diffusers such as Lumiquest Quick bounce which allows both horizontal and vertical shooting. It also has doors for 80% bounce. This would be for fluid situations such as receptions, etc.

My questions are:

1) Will a bracket really make that much of a difference -vs- just using a reflector?

The flash is set straight up and thus the reflector is already quite high above the lens in horizontal position. I will have a Strato II in the hot shoe also (for off-camera flash) so add another inch.

a) It doesn't seem a bracket would be of any benefit in that case and could be a detriment; given the reflector would be even higher with a bracket, couldn't it cause raccoon eye's?

b) I can see a bracket being beneficial in vertical mode, because it maintains it's height, whereas a flash/reflector doesn't. The later does however maintain a little height and is slightly off-center in vertical mode. You may have a little more shadow on the right side but still avoid red eye. A secondary flash could help at times with the shadow in that case also.

So does the use of a reflector somewhat diminish the need for a bracket, or are brackets just that beneficial as to demand their use?

Thanks

.
.


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Wilt
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Aug 02, 2012 13:45 |  #2

A really good bracket will...


  1. keep the flash above the lens axis, regardless of camera orientation, so that visible and objectionable side shadows are not created
  2. elevate the flash head a bit more from the lens, to reduce redeye
  3. keep the flash head orientation pointed at the ceiling, so as to not require the photographer to readjust the head orientation each time you switch between landscape and portrait orientation


...while also have the characteristics of
  • not being excessively heavy
  • not being unnecessarily flimsy


Function 1 matters when the light source is 'direct' (ceiling bounce is indirect; a reflective card which primarily bounces light forward is still a 'direct' source even though the flash output is indirect via the card)
Function 2 also matters when the light source is the native flash lens, but matters much less when a bounce card or ceiling bounce is used.
Function 3 matters no matter if direct flash lens, or via bounce card, or indirect ceiling bounce.

Having once used a Stroboframe with a medium format camera, my major complaint was the weight of the Stroboframe bracket. After a full day of use covering a wedding for 10 hours, my forearms were painfully aching the next day! I immediately bought a much lighter Newton Bracket, and never had another day of post-use agony.

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dmward
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Aug 02, 2012 14:18 |  #3

I have maybe 4 or 5 flash brackets, including a couple I modified to make it easier to tilt the flash to match the camera orientation.

And a Newton bracket that is small and collapses to fit better into my equipment case.

I rarely use any of them. Its just too much hassle during a wedding.

I shoot with 5DII and 5DIII and bounce my flash all the time. So, only time I even consider a bracket is when the venue is so dark there is essentially no ambient light.


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Ralph ­ III
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Aug 02, 2012 14:20 |  #4

Wilt wrote in post #14805229 (external link)
A really good bracket will...

  1. keep the flash above the lens axis, regardless of camera orientation, so that visible and objectionable side shadows are not created
  2. elevate the flash head a bit more from the lens, to reduce redeye
  3. keep the flash head orientation pointed at the ceiling, so as to not require the photographer to readjust the head orientation each time you switch between landscape and portrait orientation


...while also have the characteristics of
  • not being excessively heavy
  • not being unnecessarily flimsy

Function 1 matters when the light source is 'direct' (ceiling bounce is indirect; a reflective card which primarily bounces light forward is still a 'direct' source even though the flash output is indirect via the card)
Function 2 also matters when the light source is the native flash lens, but matters much less when a bounce card or ceiling bounce is used.
Function 3 matters no matter if direct flash lens, or via bounce card, or indirect ceiling bounce.

Thanks Wilt,
I just did a few tests and the side shadow with portait shots are much more pronounced than last I remember. I typically use flash for fill light (good ambient) but will be shooting an event indoors with dim lighting soon.

I think the bracket will indeed make a difference.

God Bless


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arich
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Aug 02, 2012 15:15 |  #5

There are obvious benefits to a bracket, but I much prefer holding the flash off-camera with one hand and shooting with the other, simply because it gives me more control over the light. Obviously this has some inherent difficulties but I feel that they're worth it for the control I get


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frugivore
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Aug 02, 2012 15:46 |  #6

arich wrote in post #14805703 (external link)
There are obvious benefits to a bracket, but I much prefer holding the flash off-camera with one hand and shooting with the other, simply because it gives me more control over the light. Obviously this has some inherent difficulties but I feel that they're worth it for the control I get

I shoot the same way, flash in the hand. I did have a Stroboframe quickflip but I broke the nut by over tightening. If I buy another, it would probably be an RRS one.




  
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arich
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Aug 03, 2012 10:42 |  #7

It just gives you way more flexibility. Plus (and I know this is probably wrong of me) but when i see someone with a bracket my first thought is "amateur". I'm sure there are many who use one that are not, but that's an accessory that I immediately associate with those graduation "photographers" who expect you to pay out the @$$ for out of focus, poorly framed photos they shot with their bracketed Rebel XTI


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Ralph ­ III
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Aug 03, 2012 11:24 |  #8

arich wrote in post #14809365 (external link)
It just gives you way more flexibility. Plus (and I know this is probably wrong of me) but when i see someone with a bracket my first thought is "amateur". I'm sure there are many who use one that are not, but that's an accessory that I immediately associate with those graduation "photographers" who expect you to pay out the @$$ for out of focus, poorly framed photos they shot with their bracketed Rebel XTI

Wow, that's pretty harsh arich.

In a fluid situation, such as wedding ceremony and/or reception, how do you limit shadows? I mean bounce is always preferred of course, but most Churches are not conducive for such and I'm not going to occupy my other hand with a flash, when a bracket could suffice...

Chuck Garner (external link) has some good tutorials and he used to work with Monte Zuker, renowned wedding photographer, who pioneered many techniques including use of brackets.

I've never used a bracket but desire to get the best shots possible at a friends (daughter) upcoming wedding. I don't know of any way of effectively limiting shadows other than bounce, which may not be possible, as I don't know what challenges the venue's will present.

Ralph


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Wilt
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Aug 03, 2012 12:03 |  #9

Ralph III wrote in post #14809541 (external link)
Chuck Garner (external link) has some good tutorials and he used to work with Monte Zuker, renowned wedding photographer, who pioneered many techniques including use of brackets.

^
And Dennis Reggie, in the past often attributed to being the professional 'father' of the photojournalistic style of wedding coverage (more candids, fewer posed formal shots), and who was a very visible representative of Hasselblad products, used brackets and had some bracket products with his name on them. Admittedly he seems to have changed his tune when he changed over to Canon dSLR shooting.


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Ralph ­ III
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Aug 03, 2012 13:46 |  #10

Wilt wrote in post #14809686 (external link)
^
And Dennis Reggie, in the past often attributed to being the professional 'father' of the photojournalistic style of wedding coverage (more candids, fewer posed formal shots), and who was a very visible representative of Hasselblad products, used brackets and had some bracket products with his name on them. Admittedly he seems to have changed his tune when he changed over to Canon dSLR shooting.

Hey Wilt,

What difference does Canon dslr make? The camera bracket simply addresses the challenges associated with the flash, yes? Are you saying he now completely opposes the use of a camera bracket?

Typically, such as Dennis Reggie will have assistants and plenty of equipment, multiple flashes on light stands, etc; such as a typical photog without an assistant may not have. I only have two flashes, two camera's, one light stand and a tripod in addition to some wireless triggers. I need a flash on one of the cameras for fluid situations and cannot foresee any way of avoiding harsh shadows without a bracket; unless the venue allows bounce and/or I simply choose to shoot in horizontal at all times?

I'd prefer not to use a bracket but do desire to present the best photos possible with my limited gear. Any ideas on how to accomplish such given that?

Thanks,
Ralph


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Curtis ­ N
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Aug 03, 2012 14:10 |  #11

Ralph III wrote in post #14805462 (external link)
I just did a few tests and the side shadow with portait shots are much more pronounced than last I remember. I typically use flash for fill light (good ambient) but will be shooting an event indoors with dim lighting soon.

The shadow is determined by a few factors, such as 1) amount of ambient light in the image, and 2) percentage of light that hits your subject directly, vs. the percentage that bounces off the ceiling. Usually when you're bouncing flash, better results can be obtained with a bounce card or similar device that provides catchlights and lifts the shadows under eyebrows. But this also creates shadows behind your subject.

arich wrote in post #14809365 (external link)
It just gives you way more flexibility. Plus (and I know this is probably wrong of me) but when i see someone with a bracket my first thought is "amateur". I'm sure there are many who use one that are not, but that's an accessory that I immediately associate with those graduation "photographers" who expect you to pay out the @$$ for out of focus, poorly framed photos they shot with their bracketed Rebel XTI

The part in bold is the correct part of your post.

Brackets are a pain to use, but they are a tool that can help produce better images when used with skill, in the right conditions.


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frugivore
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Aug 03, 2012 15:24 |  #12

My approach to lighting events is to first determine my ideal lighting of a subject. To me, ideal means studio lighting - key, fill, hair lighs. How do I reproduce that in an event? I have a light source just above the camera for fill, enough to not induce the red-eye effect. If I shoot in portrait orientation, I don't see any other tool to allow me to keep the flash directly above the camera than a flash bracket. If the tool holds the flash even slightly off center, the shadows on the face change (i.e. are introduced. The goal of fill is to raise the tone of the face uniformly.

And Ideally, I would have a second light source as a key off to one side or another. For this, I hold the flash in my hand or have an assistant hold it.




  
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Wilt
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Aug 03, 2012 16:19 |  #13

Ralph III wrote in post #14810080 (external link)
What difference does Canon dslr make? The camera bracket simply addresses the challenges associated with the flash, yes? Are you saying he now completely opposes the use of a camera bracket?

A Hasselblad film camera is a square format, so putting the flash over the lens in a fixed position is possible. OTOH a dSLR is an overly long rectangle, and most folks rotate the camera to portrait orientation, so a flash bracket normally needs to be able to change the flash unit's orientation in that situation to keep it pointed to the ceiling for ceiling bounce.

Dennis Reggie mentioned that, after he switched to Canon dSLR, that he found that he still kept the camera in a fixed (long horizontal) orientation and did not bother to rotate the camera (just like his prior use of Hassy 6x6) because the Canon's pixel count was sufficient for him to merely trim off the sides during post processing rather than rotate the camera to Portrait orientation. Supposedly he has stated that he doesn't use a bracket with his 1Ds. In his seminars he has mentioned that his clients buy very few large prints, rarely the large wall sizes. The file size is so large that he feels that one can get away with shooting all horizontal shots and then croping them into verticals.


Ralph III wrote in post #14810080 (external link)
Typically, such as Dennis Reggie will have assistants and plenty of equipment, multiple flashes on light stands, etc; such as a typical photog without an assistant may not have. I only have two flashes, two camera's, one light stand and a tripod in addition to some wireless triggers. I need a flash on one of the cameras for fluid situations and cannot foresee any way of avoiding harsh shadows without a bracket; unless the venue allows bounce and/or I simply choose to shoot in horizontal at all times?

I fully agree with you about the value of the bracket for elimination of side shadow when direct flash (rather than unavailable ceiling bounce) is needed.

While I would usually cover weddings without an assistant, it would not prevent me from putting a light on a stand off to the side as a highlight source. After all, the sun (the ultimate highlight source) does not move radically in the sky relative to the subject (unless we are talking about hours of elapsed time!) so my lightstand with flash essentially mimics the sun.


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Ralph ­ III
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Aug 03, 2012 22:42 as a reply to  @ Wilt's post |  #14

quote=Wilt: "...Dennis Reggie mentioned that, after he switched to Canon dSLR, that he found that he still kept the camera in a fixed (long horizontal) orientation and did not bother to rotate the camera...Supposedly he has stated that he doesn't use a bracket with his 1Ds..."

Well that would account for never needing a bracket and as I've done at times. It's just unnatural for me and the added height of a bracket would help with shadows. I will go with the manufacturers brackets for my upcoming event but I have some ideas (engineer family) on how to make one much smaller and more practical.

BTW, I emailed Denis Reggie today and he confirmed he doesn't use a camera bracket. He didn't given any details but instead directed me to his photojournalism workshop, learnphoto.pro.

quote=Wilt: "I fully agree with you about the value of the bracket for elimination of side shadow when direct flash (rather than unavailable ceiling bounce) is needed."

That is the kind of pro input I was looking for. I have several 80/20 flash reflectors and hoping I will be able to bounce some in using them. Otherwise, I will use 100% reflection, stofens or bare flash if no bounce is available, in conjunction with my off camera flash.

God Bless!


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arich
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Aug 06, 2012 10:54 |  #15

Ralph III wrote in post #14809541 (external link)
Wow, that's pretty harsh arich.

Well that would be why I said I know that I'm probably wrong and that I'm sure there are many 'togs who use a bracket effectively. My gut reaction is simply linked to the fact that it seems to be a popular purchase amongst amateurs who don't understand the why behind moving the flash off-axis with the bracket.

Ralph III wrote in post #14809541 (external link)
In a fluid situation, such as wedding ceremony

I would never use flash in a wedding ceremony
EDIT: unless specifically requested by the couple

Ralph III wrote in post #14809541 (external link)
or reception, how do you limit shadows? I mean bounce is always preferred of course, but most Churches are not conducive for such and I'm not going to occupy my other hand with a flash, when a bracket could suffice...

I've never had a problem mounting my speedlites on-camera at receptions. If the ceiling is too high/dark to bounce then I typically use a Stofen pointed up with the 580's bounce card extended inside to direct a little more of the light forward. Never had shadow issues that way. I like the holding the light in your off hand simply for the creative control it gives you, but it's obviously not ideal for all situations. I also use remote speedlites on sticks around the dance floor.

I don't want anyone to think that I'm the "anti-bracket guy" because I really don't care. Whatever you want to use that makes the best photos then go for it.


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Why Should I Buy A Flash Bracket?
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