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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 12 Dec 2012 (Wednesday) 07:02
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Having a heck of a time with flash!

 
jeljohns
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Dec 12, 2012 07:02 |  #1

I've read through Strobist, Joe McNally's books, Zach Arias, taken Creative Live courses......and I just don't get flash still!

I can't figure out how to light a portrait inside at night. The set up is a dark living room (one lamp). I have a flash, shoot through umbrella, and trigger. I want to know

a) how to use the umbrella for a portrait in a darker room
b) how to use the flash just to add more light to the room but have it look natural.

In all the flash courses and books they say to find your ambient exposure. There is my first problem, the room is so dark to get an ambient exposure I would have to have my shutter speed too low and my ISO too high.....which is the reason I want to add some flash.

Help!




  
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tacoman1423
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Dec 12, 2012 07:31 |  #2

try shooting off a sample photo and posting it on here. from there we can help.


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mckinleypics
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Dec 12, 2012 07:46 |  #3

Don't assume I'm an expert just because I am answering this, but if you are trying to light up an entire room to make it look like daytime, I'm thinking you are going to need lots and lots of lights. If you are just taking a portrait, getting close up to the subject will help a lot. Here are some tips, probably nothing here you haven't read already:

1. Feather the main light in front of the subject. Get the light as close as possible while keeping it out of the frame. This softens the light.

2. Place a reflector across from the main light to give a little fill to the subject. Not sure if the lamp you mentioned is involved in the shot or not. If not, the lamp will really serve to let you set up but probably won't give off enough light to make a difference with the settings.

3. Use the other flash to illuminate the background that will actually show up in the shot.

4. Use the camera in manual mode.

I usually chimp a lot and use one disgruntled kid during set up just to see what the shadows are doing. I try not to fall into the trap of over-complication -- adding extra lights every time I see a shadow, but I do end up going down that road sometimes.

Again - I'm an amateur so everything I just said is probably wrong.


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Curtis ­ N
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Dec 12, 2012 07:57 |  #4

Here's something to think about. An honest question:

What do you need ambient light for anyway? Do you, for some reason, need the ambient light to be part of your image, or do you only need it to keep from tripping over the furniture?

Now I don't know much about the environment you're shooting in, but generally speaking, mixing ambient light and flash requires a lot more skill than just using flash as your only light source. Usually I figure the only thing I need ambient light for is focusing. The flash can take care of the rest.

b) how to use the flash just to add more light to the room but have it look natural.

Point that baby straight up. Light up the ceiling. Use a wide zoom setting on the flash.

Flash Photography 101, Chapter 2 (link in my signature) might help you.


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dmward
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Dec 12, 2012 08:26 |  #5

In a smallish room its possible to get the whole room lit with a speedlite.
Only difference I'd suggest to Curtis' is to point the flash toward a wall/ceiling corner that will bounce the light into the face(s) of the subjects. Flash head should be aimed at least 90* off lens axis.

If you want to put the flash on a stand then put the light near a wall aimed into the wall/ceiling corner. Shoot TTL so you don't have to worry about exposure if you hear the flash popping, then up the ISO to keep it from overheating. More open aperture is better.


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Lonnie
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Dec 12, 2012 08:29 |  #6

Set the shutter speed at 1/250 or whatever your max sync speed is, then forget about it. In a dark room it won't matter anyway.

Set your aperture at f/4.0
Set your ISO at 100
Set your flash at 1/16, manual power

Start shooting (and chimping)

To make the flash brighter you can either:

Increase the flash power.
Open up your aperture
Increase your ISO
Move the flash closer.

To make the flash less bright:

Decrease flash power
Close down the aperture.
Decrease the ISO
Move the flash away

That's the only place I know of to start. The key to my limited understanding of flash so far has been to try to keep the conditions as simple as possible and only change one variable at a time.

Ambient light is not your friend right now.


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Deetrini
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Dec 12, 2012 08:37 as a reply to  @ Lonnie's post |  #7

Post picture with the exif data makes so we would have a reference point.


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BrickR
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Dec 12, 2012 16:04 |  #8

Lonnie wrote in post #15357147 (external link)
Set the shutter speed at 1/250 or whatever your max sync speed is, then forget about it. In a dark room it won't matter anyway.

Set your aperture at f/4.0
Set your ISO at 100
Set your flash at 1/16, manual power

Start shooting (and chimping)

To make the flash brighter you can either:

Increase the flash power.
Open up your aperture
Increase your ISO
Move the flash closer.

To make the flash less bright:

Decrease flash power
Close down the aperture.
Decrease the ISO
Move the flash away

^This


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jeljohns
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Dec 12, 2012 17:14 as a reply to  @ BrickR's post |  #9

Thought it would be helpful to post some pictures.

Here is the room I'm dealing with. I set my camera to 2.8 (the most wide open this lens can get), ISO 1600 (the top ISO I tend to stop at), and 1/30 of a second, the slowest I could go hand held.

IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
HTTP response: NOT FOUND | MIME changed to 'image/gif'


The second photo is flash through an umbrella 1/8th power. I think it looks too flashy, but when I bring the power down the subject is underexposed. 1/80 @ f/4 ISO 400
IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8084/8267407967_be5642359e_m.jpg

I see so many wedding photographers that put their flash on a light stand in a reception hall and shoot around the room. They can light up an entire room...why can't I light up this one little room to look natural?



  
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Lonnie
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Dec 12, 2012 17:30 |  #10

How far away is the umbrella? I think you need to move it closer to the dog.

I shot in a barn a few weeks ago. It was dark, save a 60 watt lightbulb dangling from the ceiling. I shot with a shoot-through umbrella about 3 feet from my subject, then bounced another flash from the ceiling to provide background light and fill on the dark side of my subject.

How many flashes do you have?


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jeljohns
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Dec 12, 2012 17:37 |  #11

Lonnie wrote in post #15359182 (external link)
How far away is the umbrella? I think you need to move it closer to the dog.

I shot in a barn a few weeks ago. It was dark, save a 60 watt lightbulb dangling from the ceiling. I shot with a shoot-through umbrella about 3 feet from my subject, then bounced another flash from the ceiling to provide background light and fill on the dark side of my subject.

How many flashes do you have?

It was almost touching the ear on the right side of the photo, as close as I could get it without showing in the picture. If I moved it closer, wouldn't it look brighter? I already think it looks too flashy.

The issue I'm having is I shoot pet photography. Sometimes people have really dark houses, so I'm trying to learn flash. I want to be able to add more light to the room because most dogs wouldn't sit still long enough to have an umbrella right by them. I need to be able to just add more light to the room, but have them move freely around the room and I can catch their action. Hope that make sense.

I hate flash....I've been trying to figure this out forever!




  
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bdpaco
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Dec 12, 2012 17:48 |  #12

As Zack Arias says, "you have to start somewhere" set your ISO to 100, your aperture to f/4 and your shutter speed at either max sync speed to kill ambient or at 1/60 or so to let in more ambient..if its not enough ambient, up the ISO and half the flash power. Chimp it til you get the effect you want...


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JamesDurbinMedia
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Dec 12, 2012 17:55 |  #13

Basic flash 101:
shutter speed controls the amount of ambient light that is let in
aperture controls the amount of flash light that is let in
ISO controls overall lightness/darkness of the image


J.D
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jeljohns
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Dec 12, 2012 18:17 as a reply to  @ JamesDurbinMedia's post |  #14

I get the basic idea of flash, what I'm struggling with is how to light such a dark room but have it look natural.




  
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JamesDurbinMedia
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Dec 12, 2012 18:19 |  #15

One light is not going to light an entire room well. You are better off lighting your subject with the main light and using flash output / aperture to get the subject to look how you want, then expose for the rest of the room using your shutter speed.


J.D
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Having a heck of a time with flash!
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