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Thread: Reducing harshness for on camera flash

  1. #1

    Default Reducing harshness for on camera flash

    Hi guys,

    I need your advice to improve my indoor flash pictures.

    I need to find some way to improve my indoor flash pictures of people cos my subjects' faces tend to be a little "hot" especially on the cheeks and forehead. I am using the flash as the main light and letting in some ambient light.

    My set up and settings are as follows:

    - F90X with SB26
    - Big white card (self made) attached behind the flash and pointed forward (45 degrees or more vertical). Also used in vertical format, but flash is turned to face towards the ceiling with bounce card facing subject
    - Films are negatives of ASA400
    - Matrix balanced fill flash with +0.7 flash compensation
    - Camera settings are usually 1/30s and f2.8
    - Camera meter is set to matix meter

    I've tried using the flash's bounce card and pointing the flash upwards but this cannot be used in places with high ceilings and shooting in vertical format, hence I decided to use the white card I made myself.

    I'm not shooting portraiture, and am not seeking that smooth look of portraits. Most of my shooting are of people doing stuff and is un posed. I just need to reduce to harshness of the subjects' faces.

    I've heard and seen people using the omnibounce, but i've not seen the results of it when it is used as the main light indoors. How is it for those who have tried it? What are your settings?

    Your comments are much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    SK

  2. #2
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    i'm not sure of the exact GN of the SB26,but i guess u are overexposing it @ F2.8 on ASA400

    i usually get F5.6-F8(depending on whether there are ceiling/heightof it) @ ASA400 on my SB-28
    y dun u try to set the flash on auto mode instead of Matrix without compensation @ f5.6 and bounce the light the way u do it and do a test shot of 2m 3m and 5m @ 5.6 on ur camera. easier if u have a flash meter..

    do the test under a normal ceiling and without ceiling..

  3. #3
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    i think the only reason it is harsh is because of the +0.7 flash compensation. setting at f2.8 have no effect on the flash being too bright assuming that you are on TTL flash mode.

    besides, TTL mode is very accurate. shot a potrait from about half a metre away with flash and the exposure was spot on... best of all, i was using superia iso1600 film.

    hope it helps

  4. #4

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    you should use 1/125s, aperture f5.6 & bounce completely upwards. use fill flash with a omnibounce when the ceiling is too high and shoot with flash at 45 degrees with same settings.

    last advice. you should put your compensation at 0 with this setting.

    hope it works for you.

  5. #5

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    Thank you all for your quick and helpful replies. I have a few questions that I hope you can help with.

    Kex, I think that the wide f-stop may have an effect on the harshness. For the settings you mentioned @f5.6 - f8, is there enough ambient light in the pictures or is the main subject well lit but the areas around him all dark? The reason for my setting the big f-stop is to allow some ambient light in. My setting is usually 1 stop to 2 stop under exposure from metered reading.

    Fuzzy, I was also suspecting that the +0.7 compensation may be slightly overexposing the scene. The reason is that Matrix Balance Fill flash "underexposes" when used as a main light in low light situations. I should be using the normal TTL flash instead for what I am doing, but have only tested using the this flash mode. Hehe...yah...I think I'll try it for the next test.

    eshotstudio, do you have a pic of the result with a omnibounce for people shots indoors when the flash is used as the main light? Can you send it to me? I'm interested to see the results. If its good, I intend to get one and leave my flappy whitecard at home.

  6. #6
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    my table shoot setting for dim ambient is mostly ASA400 F4 1/60 bounced with white card straight up Auto mode on flash with ASA set to 160 F4..

    if the ambient is dark,i just frame tighter..

  7. #7
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    Zen, my experience with my SB26 has been very positive. Without even using bounce, the flash spread is always even without any harshness.
    The only time the flash gets into trouble is when taking subjects less than maybe 2m away, in which case, I just do bracketing.
    If you are taking shots with ambient light as well, and you want the ambient light to be the dominant source, you might want to try the rear curtain or slow sync on your flash. This will set your camera to expose for ambient light conditions and add the flash as a fill, provided the light condition allows for shutter speeds within the flash sync speed. Just a thought.

  8. #8

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    eh lightsphere..... if u want u can pm me..i can refer u to a site which i covered the event with a lightsphere.....

  9. #9
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    Come to the worst ah.. u may want to try sticking coffee filter paper over your flash bulb with its direct matrix function.

    I used to do that with my older grip flash guns as i couldn't bounce, and soft filters/soft cards were expensive.

    Or i read somewhere that they use Veslin? though i doubt u'd want to grease your flash head in that way.

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    erm..

    what can lightsphere do to get the ambient in as well as light up the subject ??

  11. #11

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    - F90X with SB26
    - Big white card (self made) attached behind the flash and pointed forward (45 degrees or more vertical). Also used in vertical format, but flash is turned to face towards the ceiling with bounce card facing subject
    - Films are negatives of ASA400
    - Matrix balanced fill flash with +0.7 flash compensation
    - Camera settings are usually 1/30s and f2.8
    - Camera meter is set to matix meter

    Last time MarcWang posted here I think .. he was saying just use TTL flash setting [not Matrix] also don't +0.7 the flash .. just let it on normal and see how it goes. IT works like a charm for me to capture candid shots.

    Btw .. do you get good ambient and no blur with 1/30" setting ? I prefer 1/45" tho.

    =bob=
    Nikon 4 & lots of hollow chunky glass

  12. #12

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    Hi MDZ2. I was looking at my pics again and yes, I think I know why some of my subjects' faces are a little hot. Its because I was probably too close. Less than 2m away. Maybe I'll try using minus compensation next time I shoot so close.

    And b18, yup, I think I should be using straight TTL for flash indoors when using it as the main light. I just need to spend more money and shoot a roll of slides to test it. I dislike doing this, it costs money and wastes time, but looks like I have to do it in order to get it right.

    Yes, I heard about the coffee filter method, but never seen it before. Is it really that good?

    Oh btw, someone told me about shooting with the flash 45 degrees tilted up. How good is that?

  13. #13
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    i use tissue paper strap with rubber band to "diffuse" the flash instead..

  14. #14
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    You can use anyone of the following, or any combination:

    1. FEC
    2. Bounce card
    3. Bounce flash
    4. OmniBounce
    5. LightSphere
    Kind Regards
    My Picture Website

  15. #15

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    well i do have one picture i will send you through your email today. give me your email ASAP
    Last edited by eshotstudio; 22nd May 2005 at 04:31 PM.

  16. #16
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    Another way to diffuse your flash is to put a piece of white paper infront of the flash, but place it a few cm away from it. What you essentially are trying to do is to increase the size of your light source, much like using a softbox.
    This is a cheap alternative to actually buying a mini softbox for the flash.
    Of course, you need to keep in mind that you will loose some power in the flash.

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