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Thread: Theory OK, how do I put into practise?

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    Theory OK, how do I put into practise?

    Hi all,

    Another dumb newbie question for you.

    I have a young lady who I am organising my very first casual model shoot with. She's just after some nice shots of herself in her youth. Before you ask, she's 19 so no problem there and yes, we will be signing a release.

    My concern is over lighting/flash. I've read a fair bit of the theory to do with fill flash, why its used etc, however I'm a little confused as to how to put it into action.

    Obviously I will possibly be using it to fill shadows under the eyes etc mainly. I won't be happy if we choose a day that's harsh & sunny.

    Currently I only have a Yongnuo TTL flash. Or should I just bight the bullet and purchase an SB600 so I can use it off camera easily. (If I go the wireless option I will want something TTL capable so basically will want an SB600 at the end of the day).

    Now, for shadow fill can I get away with on camera TTL, or should it be off camera TTL, on camera manual or off camera manual? My concern is lack of being able to control exactly how much is needed and end up over or underexposed. I'll be with someone I don't know brilliantly well, my first model shoot, and I'd like as little to worry about as possible, to at least get good enough results that some post processing will 'tweak'.

    Any hints would be appreciated, I'm stressing already! More because I don't want to let her down!
    Have: Nikon D90; Tamron 17-50mm 2.8; Tokina 50-135mm 2.8; Tamron 18-270 'alphabet' lens; Nikkor 50mm 1.8; 1x Nikon SB-600; 3x Yongnuo YN560 flash, 1x Yongnuo YN465 flash.

    Want: Tamron 90mm 2.8 macro;

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    This isnt a right or wrong answer, its just my thoughts.

    I think you really really want to get that flash off camera, even if you just have the one. the quality of light is far better off camera. It will add shape to your subject. You can buy very inexpensive hot-shoe flash cords so you can have your single flash connected to the hot shoe but still hold it off camera. Or mount it on a stand. You can get ones that stretch about a metre, and I think they have longer ones now too.

    You could also purchase a cheap wireless trigger such as a cactus or a yongnuo RF-602. These are cheaper than buying a flash to get that one light off-camera. You need one transmitter and one receiver for using one flash off camera.

    The mor eimportant thing to get beautiful soft light for a portrait, is to get some sort of light modifier. You need a large light source, and the easiest one here for you would be a shoot through umbrella. That will wrap the light around your model very nicely and give a beautiful soft light. Keep it close to the subject!


    Fill flash comes into play when you have another light source. So it will be a much less powerful light than your main light just to kill some shadows. I usually just dial the flashes power up/down until the flash has just enough power to lighten the shadows. I do this by using my exposure compensation in the camera or on the flash when in ETTL mode, or if im in manual mode, i simple dial the flash up/down to have the power required. Takes less than a minute to take some test shots and adjust the power.
    Brodie Butler (Perth, WA)
    Photographer / Filmmaker / Retoucher
    Canon & Elinchrom user

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    Thanks very much for your reply.

    I do have a sync cord, but I find it a bit of a pain as its a long one. Maybe a trip into DDE for an SB600 might be the way to go. I'll pick up a light stand too. I have a umbrella and holder already, and it diffuses quite nicely.

    So let me get this right. Say I am shooting manual, with an external flash manually down low. I expose in camera correctly and close down a stop or 2 to compensate for the manual flash? And also use exposure compensation +/- 1? Would that work?

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    Thanks for that Brodie .

    I'm another just getting in OCF and that's extremely helpful .
    AKA Sean

    Canon 5D MKII - 24-105L - 70-200 F4L IS - 70-300 IS USM - 28 1.8 - 35L 1.4 - 50 1.4 - 85 1.8 - 100L Macro - 200L 2.8II - Tamron 17-35 2.8 - Sigma 150-500 - 430EX - and a stack of other bits and pieces.

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    Off camera flash gives a much better appearance as mentioned above. There are a few good sites that show various setups for portrait lighting (ie. flash at 45degrees and shooting down on subject). Unfortunately it's been so long since I've looked my best recommendation is google. My other recommendation is to practice at home using your partner, friend or even a teddy bear :-O


    Quote Originally Posted by abitfishy View Post
    Hi all,
    Obviously I will possibly be using it to fill shadows under the eyes etc mainly. I won't be happy if we choose a day that's harsh & sunny.
    Sunlight isn't always bad!! you can spin the subject around to minimise shadows and then use on camera flash to fill them in a bit (not too much, starts to look unnatural in my opinion) and dare i say shoot towards the sun and use the sun as a back light!! On a sunny day, also look for shade under trees as trees generally do a good job of filtering the light so it's not too dark.

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    Member beckett5361's Avatar
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    OCF is really the best, just got to get triggers or you will trip or pull over your flash. Cheers I'm experimenting too.

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    There is absolutely no need to buy an $$$ Nikon flash to be able to do what you wanna do. Use the flash you already have.

    Its very very easy to do this kinda thing with full manual flash exposure, off camera, using a cheap trigger/receiver kit.

    Set your camera to manual mode, 1/125th sec, f8, ISO100. This is your base exposure. Now, set your flash to 1/2 power. Take some test shots and see how your light is looking.

    If its too bright, lower the flash output in incremental stops (ie. 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32) If its still too bright at the lowest output, start closing your aperture down (ie. f11, f16, f22 or anywhere in between these numbers unitl your light AND histogram looks good .. this is called "chimping")

    If its too dark, you do the opposite, increase flash output and/or open up aperture.

    There is one fundamental principle in flash photography that you need to understand. Essentially there are TWO simultaneous exposures happening at once. The shutter speed is affecting your AMBIENT exposure, and the aperture selection is affecting your flash AND ambient exposure.

    Shutter speed controls how much ambient light will enter your image, aperture selection will control how much flash light enters your image.

    A simple way to get started is to set your shutter speed to 1/125th, then chimp away with your flash output and aperture until your subject is well lit. And always remember to use your histogram.
    Hi Im Darren

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    Member DesmondD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by abitfishy View Post
    Any hints would be appreciated, I'm stressing already! More because I don't want to let her down!
    If you're already stressing then I would advise against going manual - it can mean bigger mistakes especially if the light changes often [ like a patchy-cloudy day ] . I did a blog on beginners flash info that may help a bit .
    Outdoors where the ambient light is your main light source it's hard to notice a difference between on-camera and off-camera flash so think about whether you want to add that complication .
    The important thing is not to overdo the flash - if it is a harsh sunny day then -1 should be enough flash compensation but on a cloudy day you could go down to -3 because you will already have nicely diffused light .
    Only you can decide if you are confident enough to go manual , otherwise dialing in negative compensation on the camera [ to get a slightly darker background ] , and then adjusting flash to taste via flash compensation , can give you more consistent results with less chance of a serious exposure problem .

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    thats another way to do it too ... but im not sure I agree that doing this kind of thing in manual is overly complicated. Chimping is chimping, no matter if its in EV/flash comp or SS and Ap.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigdazzler View Post
    thats another way to do it too ... but im not sure I agree that doing this kind of thing in manual is overly complicated. Chimping is chimping, no matter if its in EV/flash comp or SS and Ap.
    I think it depends very much on the person taking the pictures .
    I personally tend to 'freeze up' a bit under pressure and it's easy for me to forget the camera in a manual setting which can mean a rally bad exposure - or a series of them .
    Joe McNally is a famous National Geographic photographer who shoots Nikon using exposure compensation rather than manual , also for the fact that he forgets the camera in manual settings .
    I'm not saying everyone should shoot like that though , if you can shoot manual like you drive a car then it's the best way to go but if not then it can mean a really big mess when you stress out .

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    Fair enough ... Thanks mate, I know who Joe McNally is

    IMO flash photography is best done in manual, particularly off camera flash photography. Each to their own, like everything I guess.

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    Um, yeah, I'll stick to TTL using onboard fill flash for the the time being until I'm a bit more experienced.

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    Quote Originally Posted by abitfishy View Post
    Um, yeah, I'll stick to TTL using onboard fill flash for the the time being until I'm a bit more experienced.
    As has been advised , learning to shoot in manual when you have the time to do so is how you really learn about flash photography , so it is worth pursuing the matter further .

    But "you don't enter a race in a manual if you have only ever driven an automatic , just because a manual can go 5% faster " , you want to finish the race , not necessarily go all out to win or crash .
    Practice what you can and approach the shoot with what you are more confident with .
    Then when you have time practice more in manual mode

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    Nothing wrong with onboard flash .. it will just be broad, flat, and boring 99.99% of the time. Desmond makes a good point in regard to being in bright and sunny conditions. The dimension of the light is less noticeable under these conditions and youll get away with it. If you want interesting light and shape to your images, youll wanna get that flash off the camera sooner rather than later mate. Ask any portrait photographer what they think.

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    Absolutely, there will come a time. As a matter of fact, I was going to go off camera at the 2 shoots I've now done, but not having an assistant and moving around a bit it was just a PITA. After doing a few location shoots I intend to ask one of the girls I'm more comfortable with (and vice versa) to head into a studio or similar to experiment more with lighting.

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    Thats a good idea mate ... studio flash is a whole heap of fun, youll love it

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    Quote Originally Posted by abitfishy View Post
    Absolutely, there will come a time. As a matter of fact, I was going to go off camera at the 2 shoots I've now done, but not having an assistant and moving around a bit it was just a PITA. After doing a few location shoots I intend to ask one of the girls I'm more comfortable with (and vice versa) to head into a studio or similar to experiment more with lighting.
    And of course for the outdoor shoots as well - if you have time and a patient friend who knows you are experimenting , practice off-camera flash outside as well .
    It's good [ essential actually ] to 'have a plan' when you head out for a shoot , and do something you have practiced before .
    So you could even plan just one 'pose' or setting with off-camera flash , something you have practiced before , in a location where you can perhaps put the flash on a wall or something - and go back to on-camera from there on .

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