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Beach shooters...what is your choice of light?

Discussion in 'General flash photography, lighting, and technique' started by LindaZ, Sep 25, 2008.

  1. LindaZ


    Jul 29, 2007
    Wilmington, NC
    I haven't bought any artificial light yet to help me out at the beach, especially with those sunset portrait shots that I want to create with families.
    In a short time, I'll have a very large family shoot, with about 13 people.

    I expect to have plenty more beach family shootings and I'm looking for artificial light that would be easy to take with me without an assistant, something flattering and easy to use and something that would be reasonable stable.

    Can't seem to figure out what to do :Curved: (help!)
  2. leahp26


    Apr 28, 2008
    Southern NH
    Hi Linda

    I don't know the answer but I'm very interested in this.

    I guess a reflector without an assistant is not ideal, even on a stand it will blow around.

    I took my SB800 on a light stand to the beach later at night a couple of weeks ago, was trying to get one of those shots where you expose for the background (for the sunset) and then flash the subject (ignore ecstatic expression on husband) - you can see from image that I am far away from good technique yet!!!

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

    The SB800 is very lightweight but I struggled with the lightstand - I think I nead a heavier one or some sandbags.

    For a large group I'm not sure whether some kind of diffuser would be needed - I've read some articles saying that diffusers outdoors are just a waste of flash power, and then other opposing views. I guessing that an umbrella may also be a problem if there's wind.

    At the end of the shoot it would be cool to expose for the background and have them walk away from you to get them in silhouette.

    Sorry for my ramblings!
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2008
  3. LindaZ


    Jul 29, 2007
    Wilmington, NC
    Thanks Leah... yep, you got the background perfect, but your unwilling model is a bit too "flashed"... lol

    Umbrellas seem to create the soft look I'm wanting... but yeah...I could see that umbrella light and take off with the wind.

    I have a friend who's a wedding photographer, and I went to a wedding he was shooting (a mutual friend) and he had a light-stand with something that looked like a huge lightbulb on it. Perhaps that would work out...
  4. What is your budget for that? I think it would be very difficult to give you a helpful advice without knowing this info.
  5. LindaZ


    Jul 29, 2007
    Wilmington, NC
    Well...I have money saved up for these type of purchases so...up to $400 if needed to be, but less is of course better since there's always more expenses to be paid.
  6. Linda,

    Here are the assumptions I am using:

    - No other then the dawn light availible in a shooting scene
    - A group of 13 people in a collective photo
    - No assistant availible
    - Interested in soft (non-flashy) looking light
    - Limited budget :biggrin:

    To evenly light up a group of 13 people you are going to need at least 3 flashes, IMHO. This exceeds you budget, though. And this is without any lighting tricks to create studio quality effects (hair light, rim-light, etc). With the 3 flashes you could use 2 of them as slaves on the stands with umbrellas on both sides of the group (or with small softboxes) and use the third one as a commander and a central/fill light from the camera. This way you will be able to light people without harsh shadows/lost areas.

    I recommend you read this material http://www.juliagreerphotography.com/sb-800-article.htm
    that talks about different lighting options under a limited budget.

    I also recommend to get this video http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-Speed-Light-Instructional-DVD/dp/B000NCYK4C in order to undertand the possibilities of Nikon Creative Lighting System.

    I find very useful this website as far as the best lighting solutions go - http://strobist.blogspot.com/

    Good luck!
  7. LindaZ


    Jul 29, 2007
    Wilmington, NC
    Nik - that's incredible informational...thanks.

    okay...right... actually on the D300 I can use the pop-up flash as the commander and it's surprisingly good. I need a second flash for sure. I offered the shoot for free....so I feel a little better about using them as "guinea pigs".

    Again, thanks Nik.

    btw - I would probably shoot them in lighter conditions than Leah's example above.
  8. Just buy a second sb600, Linda. A pair of them is more than enough to light a group of 13. Use a setup like this.

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

    But it's always windy at the beach, and if you use umbrellas, they'll act as sails and your lightstands will blow over. I've got bent umbrellas to prove it. And if you nail the lightstands down, the force from the "sails" can bend them. No kidding. I've got a bent lightstand to prove it.

    Under windy conditions, I find it best to use a small diffuser that won't catch much wind, such as a Lumiquest softbox, or forego a light modifier altogether.

    Outdoors, where there's nothing to bounce off, all a device like that can do is burn batteries. You need something that will increase the effective size of the flash head, but still direct all of the photons towards the subjects.
  9. LindaZ


    Jul 29, 2007
    Wilmington, NC
    Frank, glad to hear your input. And I love your visual! I remember you talking about bent umbrellas and such before.

    My friend uses it outside but...there's a lot of spill of light, because it literally do look like a large light bulb and it's not directional.

    I have one lumniquest...and one demb flip it. So...I'll go shop for another SB600.
  10. 2602824509_24b1b43334_b.jpg
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    I used an on camera sb800 for this one as fill. I had it set to FP mode and it worked out great. I have many other samples in my flickr....you need to join and add me as a friend so you can see them all. :) 
  11. Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  12. Sonya, that is a great photo. It doesn't look like you you used a flash at all. What did you use on the flash, did you point it directly at the couple and dial down the flash exposure? In FP if you are below 1/250, or 1/320, which ever you have it selected to, the high speed sync is not in use. With the available light, you must have been well below 1/250 ?
  13. LindaZ


    Jul 29, 2007
    Wilmington, NC
    That's a beautiful example. FP sometimes seem to be a bit weak for my taste but I guess I could fix adjust that.

    Flickr scares me. LOL
  14. LindaZ


    Jul 29, 2007
    Wilmington, NC
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  15. It was using high speed sync, I thought that's what FP allowed? Anyway, here is the exif data. Oh, and I used the included diffuser pointed directly at them.

    Camera: Nikon D300
    Exposure: 0.001 sec (1/2000)
    Aperture: f/1.4
    Focal Length: 30 mm
    ISO Speed: 250 (I don't know why I had it set to 250.....)
    Exposure Bias: 0/6 EV
    Flash: Flash fired
  16. LindaZ


    Jul 29, 2007
    Wilmington, NC
    Sonya, I joined Flickr just so I can be your friend :redface: :tongue: :wink:
    After all, I have a yahoo account already.
  17. Don't be scared of flickr, you have privacy control there just like on Zenfolio. You could at least log in to your husband's account and add me there (I saw his link on a blog somewhere that you posted). Flickr is a lot of fun, really.

    ETA- YAY I'm glad you joined! Look through my friends list, you'll see alot of familiar faces like Kurt, Linna, Mel.....
  18. LindaZ


    Jul 29, 2007
    Wilmington, NC
    Now I can enjoy your beautiful work at my disposal! And Kurt's, Linna's and Mel's! Great, I should have done it sooner.
  19. So where are you on flickr? I don't see you yet!!!
  20. LindaZ


    Jul 29, 2007
    Wilmington, NC
    I added you as a contact...can you see me? lindaaz74@yahoo
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