Flash Photography - Indoors


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spilot

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#1
Hi all, and greetings to alll senior members.

A 35mm SLR user ( Min Dynax 7 ), I am new here and I hope to gain some knowledge here in photography using flash ( built in or flash gun ). I consider myself intermediate, and my weaknesses are in portraiture, and flash photograhy.

Largely I am for shooting in available light, or no light at all. I love lanscape - even if they're coined as cliche - but mostly I love night shots using long exposures on negs, or slides.

I have recently taken some group shots in an HDB apartment ( its a family group photo ) using a flash gun fired off the camer manually by hand, with the gun pointed at a wall to the side of group subject. Turns out a little too white washed in areas where subjects were closest to the wall.

I have compensated for the white painted walls by dialing up +2.0 stops, but still, it looks like I should have dialed up higher - like maybe +3.5. Since the flash was bounced from a wall more than 6 feet away - I wonder what gave ?

Any help or tips will be most appreciated.
:dunno:
 

erwinx

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#2
Let me understand this:

You are bouncing flash off a side wall instead of a ceiling, and you are wondering why subjects nearer the side wall the flash is bounced off are 'washed out' whereas subjects further away from the side wall are darker????

Lets take landscapes since u appear familiar with them. If the contrast in the scene is too high... is exposure compensation going to help? Answer: of course not. The answer is to reduce the contrast. By pointing your flash straight at the subjects, all the subjects should be evenly illuminated.



:dunno: wondering if this is a 'trick' question....
 

spilot

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#3
Hi, and thanks for your prompt response.

No, it isn't a trick question.

I have tried both boucning the flash gun off the ceiling ( handheld - 3" f-16) and wall, but turns out about 1 full stop over where subjects are near wall. However, the faces and skin tones were just great.

My previous experiences with the flashgun attached to hotshoe were rather disappointing, therefore I try this approach of stopping down the f-number and using longer shutter speeeds and bouncing the flash off walls and ceilings.

Kindly advise...and much thanks again.


:)
 

StreetShooter

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#4
Originally posted by spilot
I have recently taken some group shots in an HDB apartment ( its a family group photo ) using a flash gun fired off the camer manually by hand, with the gun pointed at a wall to the side of group subject. Turns out a little too white washed in areas where subjects were closest to the wall.

I have compensated for the white painted walls by dialing up +2.0 stops, but still, it looks like I should have dialed up higher - like maybe +3.5. Since the flash was bounced from a wall more than 6 feet away - I wonder what gave ?

Any help or tips will be most appreciated.
:dunno:
Not sure if we are on the same wavelength here, but if the subjects are too whitewashed, shouldn't you be dialing DOWN the exposure compensation?

Anyway, I think I know the "sidelighting" effect you're trying to achieve. Perhaps you can try:

1. Bouncing the flash from a corner of the ceiling DIAGONALLY BEHIND you. The ceiling corner will give you a more diffuse effect, as well as reducing the difference in light falloff between the subjects nearest to that side vs the subjects furthest away (ie reduce contrast).

2. Using natural light from a window. Again, arrange the subjects diagonal to the window rather than perpendicular to it.

Take what I say with a grain of salt, because so far all my group photos have simply been (lousy) snapshots.
 

spilot

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#5
Thanks again StreetShooter,

Well, yes, I understood from some mag that negs compensates in the reverse - +EV for darkern, and - EV for brighten. So, I just did that : +2.0 because of flash with white walls.

If it had been slides, I think I would have gotten better results. I initially started shooting slides - Provia mainly - and decided to go negative because of a lack of a projector and got giddy from holding the slides up to my ceiling light, trying to make out what I shot for the day.

Well, you see, I am not exactly well off.. hehehee

And again, I really appreciate tips from awsome dude photographers like you. I really do love your street shots of people. And people photos to me, are a long ways off. I lack the skills and experience for people photos, mainly because I think they generally do not like being photographed - in Asia particularly. Somehow, as I have observed, if an Ang Moh were to do so, they largely oblige. isn't it perculiar?

Regards,

CJ
 

#6
Hi,


Here's some suggestion that I have. Since that you are taking group photos, I doubt you are going to try out fancier 'sidelighting' effects. Thus, it would probably be a better idea to bounce the flash off the ceiling rather than the side wall for a more even lighting across the group. If you still have not got one, a flash diffuser helps tremendously and should definitely be on your shopping list.

As for the settings on the flash and all that, it can sometimes be a little tricky to get it exactly right. But point to note is that to treat the EV compensation on the camera body and the flash separately. To brighten/darken the background, you will add/subtract EV on the camera body accordingly. And to brighten/darken the main subjects, you will add/subtract EV on the flash itself. The exact amount to compensate varies according to each situation and how you want the output to be. But in most cases, I would be reducing the flash output power for a gentle fill flash so as not to make it look artificial. In general, the uncompensated value shouldn't really be too far off unless under extreme lighting conditions. Happy shooting! :)
 

spilot

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#7
Thanks Kissim,

Great tips on a flashy application, I will try that the next round -
flash and ev comp.

I have not really been using flash since I took up photography, so naturally, this is a problem area for me once I begin using flah - be it a gun, or built-in.

Personaly, I really hate the way flesh tones and colors stand out when flash is used. However, indoors situations mandates the use of flash.

Again, your advice was much appreciated, thank you.

Regards,

CJ
 

roygoh

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#8
If you are shooting a group of people indoors, you are quite likely to be standing with your back close to a wall. If that wall behind you is white, and you have a flash with a pan-and-tilt head, you can try aiming the flash backwards and use the wall behing you as a giant reflector/diffuser. I have tried this many times and yield better results than reflecting off the ceiling.
 

spilot

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#9
Thanks Roygoh,

Hey that's a cool idea, I shall try that too. You people in here are a helpful bunch! Thanks !

By the way, does using a third party flash gun like SIGMA 430ST make any difference than if I were to spend S$530.+ on a Minolta Speed light ?

Your advice was much appreciated, and thanks.

Regards,

Charles
 

roygoh

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#10
By the way, bounce flash works better if you have TTL control of the flash output. Otherwise, the exposure calculation will be tricky.

If it is a third party flash without TTL compatibility with your camera, it should at least have "Auto" mode, with a pan-and-tilt head such that the exposure sensor is always pointing at your subject regardless of where you point your flash at.

I don't really understand what you mean in your first post when you say "using a flash gun fired off the camer manually by hand". Is the flash mounted on the camera's hot-shoe, or are you using a sync cord? If using Sync cord, is there TTL capability?

If you can provide a little more details on your setup, we will be able to provide better advice.
 

spilot

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#11
Hi Roygoh,

I was going off just about - but I had to reply to this query before I leave the house.

I set up my camera on a tripod, assembled everbody as best I could in front of a 17mm wide angle, f-16 was chosen, and shutter was 3 seconds.

The shutter opens on timer trigger, I manually fired the gun using the Test button against a wall to the right side about 6 feet away from congregation, with the freznel just one inch away from the wall suface.

I hope this detail can help provide a better assessment of the mess I made. heheheheee...

Again, I thank you for your time and advice.

Regards,

CJ
 

roygoh

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#12
If you have the budget, by all means go for the Minolta.
In the early days, using third party flash makes a lot of economic sense as the camera-flash interface is relatively simple.

Nowadays, there are many special features that are only enabled by proprietary interface between the camera and the original camera maker's flash.

I am afraid I am not too sure if the SIGMA model you quoted will be fully compatible with your camera bosy.

Some of the special features I can think of, using my Nikon system (F801S + SB24) as a guide, are:

- TTL
- zoom
- AF assist
- front/rear curtain sync
- integrated exposure control

You cannot simply compare the usual specs such as guide number. You have to take into consideration about these special features and see if they are important for you.
 

roygoh

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#13
Originally posted by spilot
Hi Roygoh,

I was going off just about - but I had to reply to this query before I leave the house.

I set up my camera on a tripod, assembled everbody as best I could in front of a 17mm wide angle, f-16 was chosen, and shutter was 3 seconds.

The shutter opens on timer trigger, I manually fired the gun using the Test button against a wall to the right side about 6 feet away from congregation, with the freznel just one inch away from the wall suface.

I hope this detail can help provide a better assessment of the mess I made. heheheheee...

Again, I thank you for your time and advice.

Regards,

CJ
Hmm...now I understand what you were up to.

If you are tring to mix ambient light with flash illumination for the exposure, 3 seconds are too long. It is very difficult for your subjects to stay motionless while freezing their expression for 3 seconds. With a 17mm lens, you can probably use a larger aperture (F5.6, maybe) and still get good enough DOF and sharpness.

For human subjects, in an indoor environment, I would recommend a shuttle speed of no longer than 1/4 sec. Of couse in outdoor night scene situations, with very coorperative subjects, you can make exceptions.

At F/16, I doubt if your flash would have enough power when bounced, to illuminate a large area (since you said you were using 17mm). Bouncing off a side wall will guarantee uneven illumination.

- Get a sync cord so that your flash can be triggered by the camera.
- Use a larger aperture so that you do not need to rely much on ambient lighting. If ambient lighting is that important than maybe try using a higher speed film.
- Use the standard bouce flash methods:
a. ceiling
b. wall behind you
c. on-flash diffuser or bounce card
- make sure your flash coverage is wider than your field of view to prevent dark corners.

That's all I can think of for the time being. You will get more advice from the rest.

Got to go. Have a good weekend!
 

spilot

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#14
Thanks Roygoh,

Ok thanks, and I stand corrected. I will pick up one, and try it out again with a shorter focal length.

I gotta leave now, and I will come back later this evening.

Thanks Roy.

Regards CJ
 

Flare

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#15
Hmmmm from what I understand from his post... Maybe a full manual flash will work? Try to use the camera's built in meter to measure ambient light, manually set it to 1 stop less...

Set the flash so that it'll 1 stop less than the meter reading...

set off the cam and the flash... if the timing is correct I think it'll work...

Hmmm Roy, u think it'll work this way?

The easier way would be getting a syn cord and with TTL, just set at -1 ev with fill flash....
 

spilot

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#16
Hi to All, many thanks to all who advised me on the topic of flash photography.

Sorry I didn't come back in here last night, I was back rather late.

I applied what you all told me to do about setting the flash comp and ev, using a defuser but minus the sync cord - it came out wel and just what I wanted.

However, shit always happens to me - the photo-lab's dev machine got jammed with my roll of film in it, and it had to be opened to retrieve my film. Apparently this means exposing the film before it could be developed - I lost half the roll of shots I took last night.

They printed only about half a dozen shots while the rest were dessimated when it had to be pulled out. Consolation was: the shots that got away turned out well - no white washy look, little or no shadows, and nicely defused flash lighting. Beautiful !

I thank you all for restoring my faith in flash photography. But still, I feel there's much to learn....

Regards,

CJ
 

#17
Originally posted by spilot
However, shit always happens to me - the photo-lab's dev machine got jammed with my roll of film in it, and it had to be opened to retrieve my film.
Hi,

Where did you send your film for developing? I've been fortunate that such incident has never happened to me in my years of shooting. Nevertheless, I see that you stayed in JW (I'm staying in the area too) and for all I know, it might be the same shop that I normally sent my film to. If you don't mind, perhaps you can tell me the name of the shop. Thanks..
 

spilot

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#18
Hi Kissim,

It's ParadiseColour Center.

Hmm.. you stay around here ? I'm kind of looking for a photo-buddy to shooting around at Ubin sometime soon. Maybe, we can team up and share some "views"?


Regards,

CJ
 

#19
Originally posted by spilot
Hi Kissim,

It's ParadiseColour Center.

Hmm.. you stay around here ? I'm kind of looking for a photo-buddy to shooting around at Ubin sometime soon. Maybe, we can team up and share some "views"?


Regards,

CJ
Hi,

:( Oh no... tell me it's not Paradise... I used to be senting my films to Siren Photo (at blk 9xx++) but have been using Paradise for the past few months as I'll prefer the Fuji prints... I'm shooting slides these days and they sent it out for processing... Looks like I'll better not sent it to them when I'm shooting negatives...

When are you going for shooting in Ubin? I'll come along if I can make it...

Rgds,
KS
 

spilot

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#20
Hi Kissim,

Well, great to hear you're keen in the Ubin Shoot - err.. but now a days, the weather often play me out.

To be on the safe side, we should wait till maybe end of this month of May, or early June ( 1st week ), when hopefully the sun comes back from vacation. What say you ?

It's no fun shooting alone at Ubin, and dangerous even - especially with all the ex gear.

Please let me know..

BTW: I'm a Chinese guy, 36 years old, and rather largish in size. Also, my "soon-to-be" wife will come along too. She loves photography as well. We could then guide one another.

So closer to the end of this month I will arrange with you regarding Ubin Shoot. Perhaps you can introduce yourself in your next posting?

Much appreciate your friendship in photography.

Thanks..


Regards,

Charles
 

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