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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:07 am 
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I'm a newbie when it comes to flash photography, i got a flash because i tried to take some pictures indoors once and the on camera flash was hard and not the outcome i wanted.

So i've brought myself a SB-600, it came with a Gary Fong cloud diffuser.

I've been reading alot about this flash on the internet and not really sure what i should be doing with the flash when mounted on the camera ( i have a D60 so off camera shooting is not possible) to achive well lit nice photos of people.

I'm going to a pub tonight where there is some live music and some friends where i would like to practice.
It has very low ceelings and only a few white ceelings, most of them are wooden clad ceelings so bouncing off them would cause the pictures to come out with a tint of the wood i think?

If anyone could give any advice on what kinda of setting to have camera on and the flash just to get me started so i can then change settings from there and get to grips with this flash.

I had thought on having the camera on aperature priority mode on about F8 or something, so i can get fair bit in focus with there being a band playing and group photos.

thanks if anyone can help.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 4:50 pm 
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Indeed, light picks up the color of anything that it hits, so your images will indeed be wood coloured. You might compensate for that by adjusting the whitebalance or, shooting black and white :)

I tend to shoot gigs without flash, but with flash is very much possible.

Beware though, that if you use the diffuser, the light from the ceiling will be wood coloured, but the light coming directly from the diffuser will be blueish/neutral. Taking the diffuser off might be neccesary to achieve well-balanced lighting.

Oh, and beware, if you're at F/8 your flash will use a lot of power, and have to recharge longer in between.

Also....don't be too afraid of direct flash for gigs. Most gigs are lit pretty harsh anyhow (spotlights), and a zoomed flash to the face might just get you that "pop".

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 10:14 am 
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ok so i had a go and got some pics, any advice is greatly wanted please!

Image

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thanks for any tips!

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 11:19 am 
Im by no means an expert, but just a few thoughts..

I don't think a diffuser is the appropriate modifier here, its just lighting up the entire room, and you lose contrast.

I would be tempted to shoot direct here, just take the diffuser off, or grab a bounce card/fashion one out of a bit of paper/rubber band etc.

Also you should try moving in a bit closer. Your flash is probably firing at quite a high power (the diffuser isn't helping at all, its wasting light behind you and to the sides, and the walls are waay to far out to bounce light off), so the bits in the foreground are blown out. The SB600 can go quite wide, so thats not much of a problem

The last shot is alright, maybe angle the flash downwards a bit, try to fill in the shadows under her cheeks.

Also, your exposure settings seem a little out of whack. #7 in particular, massive clipping on the two heads at the bottom, and the shadows they cast look quite wierd.

EDIT: Quick question, did you have Active D-Lighting enabled? That can cause you to lose contrast. Turn it off, or down to low


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:13 pm 
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Well all i used here was the little diffuser on the pull out part of flash, and some without it. I didn't use the gary fong one at all. I couldn't get any closer because pub was so full. Thanks for your info.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:04 pm 
i think the flash destroys the athmosphere (lighting i mean) in the room and makes it look dull.

are you shooting this with the 18-55 kit lens? if yes, please consider getting a fast (prime) lens with max aperture of 1.8 or better, then try to go without flash. you will have to set iso pretty high, but some noise is far more acceptable if the mood of the picture is good imo.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:28 pm 
Flash photography is hard to master, even on-camera flash. A couple of things which I think could be done better.

1) Composition. You've got a lot of shots with the back of heads, images with no clear subject. Try going for tighter crops, either get closer or get a longer lens. Then try different angles, the shots you've taken are basically "above the crowds' head shots" which are not very interesting from a compositional point of view. Look through music magazines to see how bands are photographed and what sort of angle works.

2) When using on-camera flash, be careful of the shadows. Pay attention to what's behind your subject. In many of your photos, you see the shadow of the musician looming on the wall behind him. If the wall is too close and is perpendicular to your lens, change your angle.Try to get it so that the wall is as acute to your lens as possible. That reduces the intensity of the shadows and it also means that any shadows that appear will be stretched and will generally look better. Repositioning yourself is not always possible, so bouncing your flash off the ceiling while attaching a Stofen diffuser to your flash is another way of reducing the shadows.

3) Your white balance is a little bit too cold. Shoot RAW and warm it up, or try to adjust your camera's white balance so that it's warmer. If you're using a diffuser, you could even get a coloured diffuser or slap a warming gel in front of it. Loads of options, just warm it up.


Hope that makes sense.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:03 pm 
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On top of what was said already:

Be extra careful with composition, anything close to you will be lighter than something further away. You don't want the viewer's attention on a bald guy's scalp of course :)

The diffuser you mentioned is the wideangle adapter, sufficient for...14 mm full frame coverageI think? If you use this the flash head will not zoom with your lens and you will lose power.

Also, the pictures look very flat. You can try and use rear/slow sync flash. This basically exposes for the room, and uses the flash as a fill light and to freeze motion. Experiment with it, you will like it. The overall tone will be a lot warmer, and will add something dynamic to your scene.

Don't worry about slow shutter speeds, if used correctly, the flash will freeze the motion.

Keep up the good work!

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:30 pm 
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thanks for all your comments guys, all great advice!

i will try a gig and see if i can practice different angles etc, unfortunately with those photos i could not get any closer then i was or move my position at all, so thats the only angle i could get.

i think i realise now i shouldnt of had the on-flash diffuser on as that limited me to 14mm range which would lose me stength in the flash, am i right?

also, i should try rear or slow sync, i did try rear flash but the camera took something like a 3 sec exposure and everything was blurred.

I have been thinking of a fast lens, would a 50mm 1.8 be fast enough? id have to get a AF-S one, but i dont think they come with VR, would i need this or are the lenses fast enough to not cause blur?

thanks for help!

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 11:53 pm 
If you're shooting in either A, S, or P, when you select 'rear curtain' it will also select 'slow sync'. You'll have to switch to M to adjust the shutter speed.

As for the lens, the only 50mms that will autofocus on the D60 are the Sigma 50mm 1.4 and the Nikkor 50mm 1.4, both of which are reasonably expensive.
Take a look at the Nikkor 35mm 1.8 instead, its about 1/2 the price of the other two, but gives you a wider lens, which may or may not suit your needs.

With the flash, I generally shoot ~1/100s or faster, but my hands aren't the steadiest. The use of the flash should minimise blur caused by shaking, you might get a tiny bit of ghosting around the subject though.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 1:52 am 
-Neil- wrote:
I have been thinking of a fast lens, would a 50mm 1.8 be fast enough? id have to get a AF-S one, but i dont think they come with VR, would i need this or are the lenses fast enough to not cause blur?


1.8 is very good. they have no VR, but remember that only helps to reduce camera shake anyway. with a fast lens you can chose faster shutterspeeds and reduce motionblur of the musicians at the same time.

you have to try if a 1.8 is fast enough on your camera and in that lighting. but i use an 1.8 indoors in dim lighting and a shutter speed of 1/60 with good results.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:01 am 
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Yes Neil, the 14 mm diffuser would indeed lose you power, but not with the diffuser (white cap) on, since all the light goes into it anyhow. However, a white diffuser in itself will lose you one to 2 stops.

As far as 50 mm lenses go: you generally buy those to AVOID flash :)
However, I will experiment with fill-flash and a fast lens, it might give it that extra small boost.

The 50 1.8 does not have a motor buit in, but is not hard to autofocus if you have decent eyes. Another option is the excellent 35 mm F/1.8 (which I have), and whish is "faster" than the 50 mm because it lets in more light due to the wider angle.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 2:12 pm 
Citruspers wrote:
The 50 1.8 does not have a motor buit in, but is not hard to autofocus if you have decent eyes. Another option is the excellent 35 mm F/1.8 (which I have), and whish is "faster" than the 50 mm because it lets in more light due to the wider angle.


there is also an AF-S 50mm: AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G


hmm, i never thought about the angle of view influencing brightness - but it seems reasonable. i'm off, testing... :o


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 3:03 pm 
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I was thinking of getting the 50mm prime f1.4 af-s as i think it'd make good addition for the wedding photography and general portrait photography, would i be right?

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 3:12 pm 
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You are indeed right! 50 mm becomes 75 mm, which is widely used by portrait photographers :)

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