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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 08 Jul 2014 (Tuesday) 20:11
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When to Point flash directly..

 
werds
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Jul 08, 2014 20:11 |  #1

OK, newbie still to DSLR, slowly figuring out stuff on spare time... recent months used 270ex ii with stoffen OB, then slowly moved to bouncing without the diffuser...

Picked up a 580ex ii and love the light much more and control when bouncing... my only confusion is - other than in situations where there is no walls or items to bounce flash off of (outdoors in a field for example). When do I point directly with flash and how do I avoid the "harsh" looks of direct flash most conveniently?

Also do you still bounce flash when in places where the walls etc cause light pollution (brown or colored walls/wood paneling) - if so how do you combat the color shift effect?

I know I am opening a can of worms here - but new to the concepts, still reading and watching videos... I at current time only use the flash mounted on hot shoe and never use the on camera flash... All information will be digested and looked at with equal weight :)

Thanks!


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Alveric
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Jul 08, 2014 20:43 |  #2
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What do you mean by 'pointing the flash directly'?

There's nothing wrong with pointing the flash directly at a subject nor with the hard shadow edges you'll get. Sometimes you want those hard shadows. Ever heard of 'bare bulb'?

Now, if what you mean is 'flash on top of the camera and aimed straight at the subject', then the answer is: whenever you want to uglify the subject.


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Jul 08, 2014 21:10 |  #3

I'm no expert, may be doing something wrong, but here are the times I remove any diffuser and just point it straight forward. Same logic for when I feel good about using a pop-up.

- When it's just for eyelight. So; plenty of ambient. Usually; my camera is on Manual or AV. Flash is also manual and set very low. It's just to brighten up the eyes and lighten a few shadows. Even then, if subject is closer than 15' I'll tilt it up and either use a StoFen or the flash's built-in white card.

- For great distance (over 30'), particularly outdoors.


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Jul 09, 2014 08:46 |  #4

about the only time I ever use an on camera flash directly at a person is if it being used as fill. Use it to lift shadows off the face and eyes. honestly, using an on camera flash pointed straight at a subject as the key light generally results in "meh" or worse.


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Jul 09, 2014 10:12 |  #5

Consider getting an ocf cable or a wireless trigger and a stand. You will be much happier with the pictures



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Jul 09, 2014 15:03 |  #6

NBEast wrote in post #17019900 (external link)
- When it's just for eyelight. So; plenty of ambient. Usually; my camera is on Manual or AV. Flash is also manual and set very low. It's just to brighten up the eyes and lighten a few shadows. Even then, if subject is closer than 15' I'll tilt it up and either use a StoFen or the flash's built-in white card.

TTUShooter wrote in post #17020631 (external link)
about the only time I ever use an on camera flash directly at a person is if it being used as fill. Use it to lift shadows off the face and eyes. honestly, using an on camera flash pointed straight at a subject as the key light generally results in "meh" or worse.

Agree with both the above quotes.

It's fine to point the flash directly at the subject as long as it's significantly less powerful than the main or ambient light. Just to lighten up the face a little, brighten the eyes, and add a little catchlight.

If there's nothing to bounce from, your only other reasonable alternatives are to get the flash off the camera, or not use a flash at all. You can point the flash at the sky, but that doesn't do anything helpful at all.


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GregDunn
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Jul 09, 2014 15:24 |  #7

The problem with pointing the flash directly at the subject is that if it's near the lens' optical axis, you run the risk of red eye. I've even gotten this with a bounce card when the subject is far enough away. Getting the flash high enough, or to the side enough, will allow the benefits of direct flash to be used without the drawbacks.


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Jul 09, 2014 18:39 |  #8

Here's an example of direct flash used to supplement ambient. It was mostly overcast. Without the flash, her right eye (camera left) would have been much dimmer and without a catchlight. The ambient is still the main light, by a long shot.

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werds
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Jul 09, 2014 19:24 |  #9

Awesome tips and advice everyone! Like some newbies I went through a phase where I refused to use the flash simply because the on camera made the results looks so harsh. Slowly picking up stuff but was seriously trying to understand the mechanics of how to make direct flash work to my advantage and not disadvantage.

The lens axis to main light axis from flash definitely helps me understand it better - I guess learning how to use the flash off camera may be something I need to delve into in the near future. So basically direct flash means I need to learn manual settings for the flash a bit better? I am starting to grasp light fall off, diffusion and scattering the light source to fill for ambient a bit better while bouncing - as well as how it effects the color temperature... so now solving the direct flash and fill flash situations is my next goal :)


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Jul 09, 2014 19:47 |  #10

If you are interested in learning to work with off camera flash, I suggest you read start reading strobist 101

http://strobist.blogsp​ot.nl/2006/03/lighting​-101.html (external link)

There are few better tutorials on getting started with off camera flash and none that are free that I'm aware of. This is a wealth of info in this link.


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Jul 09, 2014 22:31 |  #11

GregDunn wrote in post #17021327 (external link)
The problem with pointing the flash directly at the subject is that if it's near the lens' optical axis, you run the risk of red eye. I've even gotten this with a bounce card when the subject is far enough away. Getting the flash high enough, or to the side enough, will allow the benefits of direct flash to be used without the drawbacks.

Wedding pros decades ago used flash brackets that put the flash head high above the lens, but also directly in line with the optical axis of the lens regardless of Portrait vs. Landscape orientation! That 1) avoided red eye and 2) avoided the horridly distracting hard edged side shadow which was caused by any flash laterally positioned to either side of the lens.

When I did that, the on-camera flash for me was Fill. I used an off-camera radio-triggered flash as a Main light, for better facial rendition -- mimicking what was set up in the studio for portraiture by majority of professional shooters in the studio.


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Jul 10, 2014 00:18 |  #12

Wilt wrote in post #17022103 (external link)
Wedding pros decades ago used flash brackets that put the flash head high above the lens, but also directly in line with the optical axis of the lens regardless of Portrait vs. Landscape orientation! That 1) avoided red eye and 2) avoided the horridly distracting hard edged side shadow which was caused by any flash laterally positioned to either side of the lens.

Exactly! The shadow is hidden by the subject and the retinal reflection is not visible from the camera pov. [I know you are aware of this, just elucidating for the OP] I use one of these for work outdoors or in large rooms where bounce is not feasible.


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Jul 10, 2014 08:28 |  #13

I guess its okay to advise using off-camera flash etc for best results, but I suspect the original question was really about general guidelines when using on-camera flash pointed directly at the subject. There are many situations where this is about your only option, for example photo journalisam etc, and even family events with children where there might be little opportunity to set up off-camera flashes (and where trying to do so will just result in missing the moment).

The first and simplest option is just fit your flash into the hotshoe, switch your camera to program mode and fire away. Sometimes this might work fine, but there are a couple of things to watch out for. If the ambient light is low its likely your camera shutter speed will be low possibly resulting in blurred pictures or movement blur on the people in the pictures. In very bright ambient light you will get a small aperture which means the flash has to pump out a lot of power and you'll notice this with slow recycling times. In bright light you can work around this to some extent by setting your flash to high speed sync - although this will also reduce its range.

Personally I think the best option (although a little more thought is required) is to set your camera to manual and then choose a combination of settings to match the ambient light (in bright light, set ISO-100, shutter to max sync speed (200/sec for 5D) and what ever aperture you need - in low light you'll be looking at a high iso and wide aperture and a shutter speed high enough to prevent movement blur). Then take a picture of the background and make sure it looks as you wish (a little over or under exposed is fine, depending on how you want your end picture to look). Then fit the flash and set it to auto. Take another picture and see what you get. If the subject, lit by the flash, looks too bright then back off on the exposure compensation (on back of flashgun). If the subject is too dark do the opposite.

Now you can adjust the exposure on the subject by adjusting your flashgun, and adjust the exposure on the background by altering your camera settings, the aim normally being to get a nice balance between subject and background.

Hope that helps :)



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AhmedAgbabiaka
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Jul 10, 2014 10:45 |  #14

when you can't bounce (no surfaces or too far a distance) it's fine to point your flash at your subject. to get soft light you need to use a modifier such as an umbrella or soft box. you'll also need to make sure you balance your flash with other light including the ambient. you could use a stofen diffuser, but its not as good as an umbrealla or soft box.

so when you do bounce, the walls can definitely color the flash. this can be used as an effect but if it's not what you want, you'll need to use gels to get the bounced light of the flash to be the color you want.

another tip...get that flash off your camera. with your flash off camera, you can use better light modifiers such as umbrellas and larger softboxes. you also will have better control of your light because you can move the flash wherever you need it to be. bring it closer to the subject for more power and softer light. take it back for less power and a harsher light.

check out lighting 101 over at http://strobist.blogsp​ot.com/ (external link). David covers all of this stuff.


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