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A few quick Lightsphere PJ shots

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by StL_Don, Dec 3, 2005.

  1. I received the LsPJ a couple of days ago. At first blush I thought "$45 for this chunk of vinyl??".
    After playing with it a bit I've found that value is in what it does and not what it is.
    The LsPJ is ~4.25" / 11cm diameter and extends ~3.5"/9cm above when mounted. Weight is nil when you're already hefting a D2x and SB-800.
    The LsPJ is very flexible, I've mushed it and stored it squashed and it returns to its original shape - nice.

    Pros - look at the samples
    Cons - bulky, greatly reduced output vs. direct flash

    I tried lining the rear of the sphere with tin foil to see if the output increased and to my surprise it didn't seem to. I think if you want more range a cap will be needed which I've yet to fashion.

    Quick side by side. 10ft ceiling, large room. 85/1.8 @ F:4
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    Small laundry room, 8 ft ceiling 50/1.8 @F:5
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    Outdoors (obvious) very overcast, 85/1.8 @ F:4
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    I highly recomend this accessory. It is better than any flash gizmo I've ever tried. Heck, compared to the cost of most of our gear it is really cheap:smile:

  2. eng45ine


    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Your examples are quite striking, seems we all may need one of these in our camera bag...thanks for the info and samples.
  3. Tosh


    May 6, 2005

    I have to agree with you on the far more pleasing results from the LS than the SB 800 alone. I have its more bulky predecessor, the LS II, and did some comparison tests with that version. https://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=51907&highlight=Tosh I didn't have photogenic models like yours available, so resorted to my daughter's American Girl dolls.

    Although I prefer the images produced by the LS II, I must admit that I haven't used it that often due to its physical aesthetics and unwieldiness.

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  4. jjdesanto1


    May 1, 2005
    Warwick, N.Y.
    John DeSanto
    Hi Don...

    I have both the original Lightsphere (with dome) and the new PJ (without) and I've gotta tell ya that I prefer the original despite all its clunkiness.

    Here's why: All of the shots taken with the LPII with dome have come out evenly lit. But I've had a few bad ones with the PJ. Here is one of the worst examples:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    I'm not exactly sure what the problem is since not every shot on this job looks that way.
  5. John, what's up with the shadows to the left of the subjects? With the camera in landscape mode, doesn't the flash sit directly over the lens?
  6. jjdesanto1


    May 1, 2005
    Warwick, N.Y.
    John DeSanto
    Hi Frank

    You know, that's an excellent point, Frank. I did have the SB-800 tethered to the camera by the SC-29 sync cord but I always have my right hand on the camera and the flash in my left hand. (In fact, there is no other way to do it.) I'm gonna go check the other "bad" shots in that series and see what's up.
  7. jjdesanto1


    May 1, 2005
    Warwick, N.Y.
    John DeSanto
    How bizarre is this?

    So, I went back to check on the other shots from that job and this is what I found:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    How weird is this? As I said in the previous post, flash in my left hand with the Lightsphere PJ on top of it and the camera in my right hand. Look at the guy on the left - his shadow is down and to the right - exactly where you'd expect it. (Actually, I wasn't expecting any shadow since he's a good three feet from the wall and I was bouncing it off the ceiling, but that's a different story.)

    But the shadow on the head on the guy on the right is being thrown down and to the left AND he also has a shadow from his arm going down and to the right. Very weird!

    Explanations are now being accepted.
  8. So you were hold the flash in your hand??

    As in free-form? Could you have inadvertantly tilted it towards the subject yeilding the direct flash appearance your examples have?

  9. jjdesanto1


    May 1, 2005
    Warwick, N.Y.
    John DeSanto
    Hi Don...

    No, I didn't point the flash toward the subject but I think I found the answer to the bizarre lighting effects. I had another shoot in the very same model home tonight (different room). But I took a look into the other room and noticed that ceiling is divided into 8-foot square sections by 18-inch deep white beams.

    The architect told me the design is referred to as "coffer ceilings" and I'm beginning to think the light just got up into those coffers and started bouncing around. I'm sure I noticed them at the time but I just didn't expect such a dramatic result.
  10. I absolutely think a modicum of fill flash outdoors on overcast days is the easiest, most flattering light there is.
    Your shot shows that very well. The dog, the sweater, red hair, the magic of an 85mm........perfect.

    The indoor shot is dramatically improved too....considering how much I usually abhor flat indoor direct flash.

    Very nice. I just might need one.:biggrin:
  11. Good demo on the use of LS/PJ. Thanks.
  12. I'm not sold at all on the use of the light sphere for outdoor use. There's no gain to be had in shooting photons away from the target if there's no reflective surface to bounce them back. Any improvement is due to the increase in effective size of the illuminating surface based on the area of the portion of the LS facing the target compared to the area of the flash head, and the fact that your strobe underexposed the subject because it didn't have enough power to do otherwise.

    That being said, I absolutely love the result you got from this shot.

    Outdoors (obvious) very overcast, 85/1.8 @ F:4
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    It's excellent for indoor shots in a small room, but for outdoors work, I think there are gizmos that will do better.
  13. I agree

    I agree 100%. In fact, I'm not all that sold on the idea that you need/want any going out the back indoor either.
    That is why I was experimenting with lining the backside with foil. Surprisingly it didn't seem to make a difference.
    That said I do think it helps outdoors. I think (didn't do side by side) this example shot would have been harsher with direct flash.

    My next test will be to see the results of putting a reflective cap on the unit.

    Thank you.
    She's an employee of mine that I enlisted for the testing. I had to do a bit of PS work on the shot before she'd be happy with me using it. She's ~35 and naturally has a few wrinkles around her eyes and forehead - she hated the original but loved the "younger" version of herself. In fact this quick grab shot has become a Christmas gift for her parents.

  14. I have read what Uncle Frank said relative to use of the Lightsphere outside and while I will agree with him for shots that are further away or for large group shots where you are also further back I do not agree for closeups. I use the Lightsphere for almost all of my closeup shots outdoors or in. I find the light softer and it does not produce shadows around facial features. It is true that the light lost for shots that are further away can sometimes be a problem but I conteract that by pointing the LS dome directly at the subject. When doing snapshots I don't worry about using the dome but for paid shots it is a staple in my arsenal. The other thing I do is to use a second SB800 on a stand that is closer to the subject(s) and trigger it with an on camera SB800 in master.

    By the way Don, it is smart to lightly touch up facial wrinkles for women over 30. If it is done subtly they will never notice but will like the image you have produced. I too like the final version of the image you touched up. Nicely done.
  15. PeterRH

    PeterRH Guest

    SB800 bounce card

    Hi...did you ever try raising the bounce card on the SB800 with the lightsphere attached?

    I use it that way on the LS II and it certainly throws more light forward.
  16. Good suggestions Peter, don't know why I didn't think of that.

  17. Exactly!

    A little walkabout soft-box.

    Of course the scatter into the heavens is noncontributory to the shot, but I think increasing the size of the source is so very valuable. If you can see that a strobe was used it, de facto, was over-used.

    For fill outside at f4 the strobe, I suspect, has more than plenty to contribute short of blowing its entire, but finite, photon load.
  18. shootman

    shootman Guest

    It seems to me physics is playing a role here.

    The PJ is a crinkled clear vinyl tube which is placed over the flash head and while pointed up directs a tiny bit of light directly from the point of the vinyl surface. This is acting like direct flash and thus projects a hard shadow on backgrounds. Most of the flash photons hit the ceiling and are bounced in every direction producing soft light which will not produce hard shadows. Using a modest wide angle lens at close distance will permit the camera to see shadows on the inner most backgrounds as in your example.

    The domed version would be slightly softer on the background shadows as the point of light is larger and it too bounces light off of the ceiling.

    There is no merit in either of these devices outdoors in the bounce mode, unless you have very low cloud cover.lol

    The ceiling you referenced as having large recessed blocks 8' x 8' would not produce hard shadows, in fact it would further reduce the light reaching the subject and diffuse it further. That's why bounce cards are flat.

    The reason bouncing light off a ceiling produces soft wrap around lighting is the simple fact that you have multiplied the size of the illuminator by magnitudes larger than a flash tube reflector in a hand held flash. You also lose tonnes of light as the relative distance to the subject is increased, inverse square law. The problem with bouncing off a ceiling is it affects WB making post production a pain. If you happen to illuminate a coloured wall as well, it magnifies the WB issues.

    These types of candid shoots are challenging especially when you want soft light versus straight forward flash. Metz makes their pro models with two flash heads, one tiny one pointing forward to clean up WB and shadows that may develop under eyebrows from 100% bounced light of the main head.
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