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Thread: Using ND filter with fill-in flash

  1. #1
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    Default Using ND filter with fill-in flash

    Scenario
    Subject is outdoors in bright sunlight when the sun is high up. Dark shadows are on the subject's face. Reflectors are not available but an external flash is. Using FP sync is undesirable.

    Objective
    Shoot with a large aperture as bokeh is desired. At the same time, get rid of or at least minimise the shadows on the subject's face.

    Possible solution
    Use an ND filter so that the shutter speed used can be within the flash's sync speed. At the same time use fill-in flash.

    Questions
    Will the above work? Would I need to do anything else? Has anyone tried this before? Are there any other ways to do it without requiring big/large equipment (when travelling)?

    I have been in this kind of situation before. I have tried using FP sync but it didn't help much at all. Been thinking about how to solve this problem without using a reflector as there usually isn't anyone to help out holding the reflector.

    Appreciate opinions and comments.

  2. #2
    Senior Member jnet6's Avatar
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    Default Re: Using ND filter with fill-in flash

    Using ND filter will have colour cast on the pics...
    best is to use a powerful flash with high speed sync.

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    Default Re: Using ND filter with fill-in flash

    Quote Originally Posted by jnet6
    Using ND filter will have colour cast on the pics...
    best is to use a powerful flash with high speed sync.
    I thought ND filters simply cut down the amount of light?

  4. #4
    Senior Member jnet6's Avatar
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    Default Re: Using ND filter with fill-in flash

    Yes.. but it will introduce extra colour cast.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Using ND filter with fill-in flash

    Generally for fill-in flash the FP flash should work alright. If you're worried about the colour cast just PS it away. It's really easy to correct such things in PS.
    Last edited by Stoned; 5th August 2006 at 10:34 AM.
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  6. #6
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Using ND filter with fill-in flash

    Yes, It works, no problem at all, just that the viewfinder may darker a little, and you can let the flash and camera TTL take care the exposure.
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Using ND filter with fill-in flash

    aren't ND (neutral density) filter supposed to be colour neutral?

    anyway, some cameras, dslrs included, do not support highspeed ttl flash sync.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Using ND filter with fill-in flash

    Hi kietgnoel,

    Based on yr shooting scenario, it's best to get a friend as an assistant to help you carry/hold on a large light reflector or place/hook the reflector on a tripod. On the DIY side, you can make a "sun blocker" made out from a plain opaque shower curtain and get yr assistant to hold up above the model. The purpose is to block the strong sunlight and create enuff diffused light on the model. You can compensate for any loss of light by using a light reflector or external flashlight as fill-in.

    This way the model will not be strained by the strong sunlight where she'll frown and you won't be able to take good portrait shots. Remember, eyes are the window to the soul and vital in portraitures so you gotta take note of such details. On the other hand, you get to minimise the deep dark shadows casted on the model's face. Another method will be, get yr model to a shaded area and use one or more light reflectors to fill-in, if you can't get an assistant to help you.

    You were right on the usage of ND filter. It is supposed to cut down certain amount light that enters yr camera, depends on the grade density you're using/applying. So why would you wanna use it for portraitures? ND filter is commonly used for landscape photography like water falls, sea water waves on the beach shore, sunset/sunrise, to bring out the clouds details and darken the blue sky etc etc, It cuts down the light and with slow shutter speed for more motion blurs, in order to make a correct exposure.

    Hope my 2-cents worth of advice helps. Cheers mate!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Using ND filter with fill-in flash

    Quote Originally Posted by Mezzotint
    Hi kietgnoel,
    You were right on the usage of ND filter. It is supposed to cut down certain amount light that enters yr camera, depends on the grade density you're using/applying. So why would you wanna use it for portraitures? ND filter is commonly used for landscape photography like water falls, sea water waves on the beach shore, sunset/sunrise, to bring out the clouds details and darken the blue sky etc etc, It cuts down the light and with slow shutter speed for more motion blurs, in order to make a correct exposure.
    I want to be able to use a large aperture to get more bokeh. Cutting down the amount of light should allow this.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Using ND filter with fill-in flash

    Quote Originally Posted by catchlights
    Yes, It works, no problem at all, just that the viewfinder may darker a little, and you can let the flash and camera TTL take care the exposure.
    Thanks. I'll get ND filters to try it out.

  11. #11
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Using ND filter with fill-in flash

    Quote Originally Posted by kietgnoel
    I want to be able to use a large aperture to get more bokeh. Cutting down the amount of light should allow this.
    When I was shooting with film during weddings, using 400 film on outdoor portraits, can't get sync speed below 1/250sec, (Sunny f16 rule, under sun is f16 1/400sec, cloudy is f8 1/400sec) hance I use ND filter.
    Quote Originally Posted by kietgnoel
    Thanks. I'll get ND filters to try it out.
    You are welcomed.
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