Candids w/ off-camera flash

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Jan 13, 2009
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I am looking for tips on setting up a flash or two in a room to take candids of the kids playing. I havent done much experimenting with it yet and would like some basic tips to get started.
 
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What kind of room? How big? What color walls? What is the ambient light like? I am assuming you are off camera but either way you can just bounce off the ceilings and if the kids are in a somewhat confined area you can use some reflectors. Now if you want much more of an enviromental shot you can drap some sheets over the windows for soft light. Much depends on the questions mentioned. Have fun and post the shots!
 
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The rooms range in size from medium sized bedroom to large bonus rooms. Unfortunately the wall colors and shades are all over the place.

I havent had very good results bouncing off the ceiling - if I use a demb flip-it the faces seem too flat and if I dont use a bounce card I dont like the shadows. (although, now that I think about it I havent tried the flip-it off camera). I think I need to try more directional lighting and am thinking about picking up an umbrella or two to stick in the corners.
 
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That sounds good. You can also shoot straight on with a silt or trigrip diffusion panel. Heck purchase a hotshoe softbox from lastolite :p
 
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I havent had very good results bouncing off the ceiling - if I use a demb flip-it the faces seem too flat and if I dont use a bounce card I dont like the shadows.
So you need a smaller bounce card. For example, the SB-800 pullout card is 1.75x1.25 inches effective area above the head, and it is plenty for most cases except extreme distance. Just a tad is needed. We know small will not sell on the market, but it works best. Try cutting a sliver from a piece of copy paper or an index card, and use a rubber band.
 
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You can bounce off the ceiling with no problem. Recently I did some photographs at our family's yearly reunion. It was in a private dining room that was about 30'x20'. For the set up, I had the flashes in corners diagonally from each other angled at about a 60 degree angle bouncing into the ceiling. The flash covered the room pretty well. The settings I used on the camera were ISO 200, f/4 and 1/125. When I shot a subject in the middle of the room I had to open up to 2.8 but I was only running the flashes on 1/8 power (or 1/4) and had some room to go on those.

Give it a shot, and with some trial and error you will be fine, but bounce into the ceiling, and you might need to gel to match your lights to your ambient, just be aware.
 
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You can bounce off the ceiling with no problem. Recently I did some photographs at our family's yearly reunion. It was in a private dining room that was about 30'x20'. For the set up, I had the flashes in corners diagonally from each other angled at about a 60 degree angle bouncing into the ceiling. The flash covered the room pretty well. The settings I used on the camera were ISO 200, f/4 and 1/125. When I shot a subject in the middle of the room I had to open up to 2.8 but I was only running the flashes on 1/8 power (or 1/4) and had some room to go on those.

Give it a shot, and with some trial and error you will be fine, but bounce into the ceiling, and you might need to gel to match your lights to your ambient, just be aware.
That won't work if the walls are very dark
 
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I like Neil van Niekerk's work and the excellent information on using bounce flash presented at his site. For bounce flash check out: http://www.planetneil.com/tangents/flash-photography-techniques/4-bouncing-flash/

For the simple but effective flash modifiers he uses see:
http://www.planetneil.com/tangents/2007/12/13/my-choice-of-flash-modifiers/

Info on using bounce flash with dark or non-white walls:
http://www.planetneil.com/tangents/2009/05/11/bouncing-off-bricks/


I really like the setup mentioned by a.dickens as an example. One thing I would change however is the ISO. I find that most photogs are trying to use the lowest ISO possible for the least noise. That is a good principle, but it has to be tempered with the reality of the job situation. If you plan on making 16x20" prints of the kid candids, then by all means stick as close to a lower ISO as possible. On the other hand, the D80 can make excellent 8x10" prints at an ISO of 640 ~ 800. Why limit your options? There isn't any Kodachrome in the old DSLR, I assure you. Increase recycle speed, flash reach, or DOF (via aperture), by using a higher ISO where practical.
 
Joined
Jul 22, 2005
Messages
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I like Neil van Niekerk's work and the excellent information on using bounce flash presented at his site. For bounce flash check out: http://www.planetneil.com/tangents/flash-photography-techniques/4-bouncing-flash/

For the simple but effective flash modifiers he uses see:
http://www.planetneil.com/tangents/2007/12/13/my-choice-of-flash-modifiers/

Info on using bounce flash with dark or non-white walls:
http://www.planetneil.com/tangents/2009/05/11/bouncing-off-bricks/


I really like the setup mentioned by a.dickens as an example. One thing I would change however is the ISO. I find that most photogs are trying to use the lowest ISO possible for the least noise. That is a good principle, but it has to be tempered with the reality of the job situation. If you plan on making 16x20" prints of the kid candids, then by all means stick as close to a lower ISO as possible. On the other hand, the D80 can make excellent 8x10" prints at an ISO of 640 ~ 800. Why limit your options? There isn't any Kodachrome in the old DSLR, I assure you. Increase recycle speed, flash reach, or DOF (via aperture), by using a higher ISO where practical.
Neat links,thanks
 
Joined
Oct 6, 2008
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Atlanta
@thechemist-I think it will work regardless of the colors of the walls as long as he is hitting the ceiling. I am assuming the ceilings are a neutral color. But we all know what assuming does...

@Z371-I could see shooting at a higher ISO and often shoot at ISO 400 for most indoor stuff to save battery power. For that event I didn't.

@ATLJack Here was the inspiration for my setup
http://strobist.blogspot.com/2007/12/christmas-game-plan-results.html
 
Joined
Sep 25, 2008
Messages
755
Location
Columbus, GA
How about holding the camera in your right hand and corded speedlight in your left hand (or holding a monopod in your left hand with the flash at the top)?

I've been able to get some (IMHO) pretty cool off-camera candid kids shots using that method:


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Joined
Jan 13, 2009
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How about holding the camera in your right hand and corded speedlight in your left hand (or holding a monopod in your left hand with the flash at the top)?
I did this exact thing shortly after typing the original post (except it was wireless). I intended to post the pictures to discuss the results but am having computer problems.
 
Joined
Sep 15, 2008
Messages
1,416
Location
Sacramento
How about holding the camera in your right hand and corded speedlight in your left hand (or holding a monopod in your left hand with the flash at the top)?

I've been able to get some (IMHO) pretty cool off-camera candid kids shots using that method...
Pretty cool indeed. Using a monopod to raise the flash up high is an excellent idea. Good stuff of the wife and kids.
 
Joined
Sep 25, 2008
Messages
755
Location
Columbus, GA
Pretty cool indeed. Using a monopod to raise the flash up high is an excellent idea. Good stuff of the wife and kids.

Thanks! It's my friend's wife but she's pretty and patient with me taking all sorts of pics (as is my wife) :biggrin:

The kids are her son, and my daughter, so we have a lot of play dates over there.

And ATL - the D700 is crazy awesome, I've had mine one week and am in LOVE!
 

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