Flash Advice Sought

Joined
Dec 6, 2006
Messages
16,847
Location
West of Boston
hi folks,

Am looking to get some ideas on improving my flash photography...all of these are screen shots of the LR display of the file, SOOC, no PP'ing.

I was trying to use flash to get some contrast and eliminate shadows for some team/small group shots.

1. First this effort. I had my SB-800 mounted on a RRS Wedding bracket and the diffuser (no gel), aimed directly at the group...shot RAW, 1/160, ƒ4, ISO 800, Matrix, TTL. I don't like the reflections on the floor; I was able to bring the ambient up in post, etc.
flash%2001.jpg
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2. I then modified my approach. In an attempt to get more ambient in (this is a well-lit gym), I went to 1/60, ƒ5.6, ISO 2000. I also put a green gel on my flash, and still shot RAW, AutoWB, Matrix, TTL. Seems to be better. Also had the flash on the RRS bracket but used a Joe Demb Flip-It at about a 45° angle- the flash was vertical and the Flip-It directed some light towards the subjects.
flash%2003.jpg
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3. The next one was very similar, same night, earlier in the night. Only difference was the end I was in was darker, so I had ISO set to 2500.
flash%2005.jpg
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4. Hockey portrait, in a darker setting. Took my Sekonic light meter this time (#2 & #3 were eyeballed) and changed the settings a bit, 1/125, ƒ5.6, ISO 2000, one stop lower based on the light meter settings. Still had a green gel (the standard Nikon one) over my flash, AutoWB, Matrix, TTL, Flip-It. I'm wondering why the background is so warm. I went a little higher on the SS because my subjects had moved in a different shoot and blurred.

flash%2006.jpg
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Any thoughts/suggestions? Am I on the right/wrong approach? Given how well the gym is lit, should I have just shot ambient and Manual flash a couple of stops under? Any tweaks?

TIA...
 
Joined
Oct 17, 2007
Messages
25,048
Location
Orland Park, Illinois
hi folks,

Am looking to get some ideas on improving my flash photography...all of these are screen shots of the LR display of the file, SOOC, no PP'ing.

I was trying to use flash to get some contrast and eliminate shadows for some team/small group shots.

1. First this effort. I had my SB-800 mounted on a RRS Wedding bracket and the diffuser (no gel), aimed directly at the group...shot RAW, 1/160, ƒ4, ISO 800, Matrix, TTL. I don't like the reflections on the floor; I was able to bring the ambient up in post, etc.
http://www.wraight.com/cafe/misc/flash 01.jpg

2. I then modified my approach. In an attempt to get more ambient in (this is a well-lit gym), I went to 1/60, ƒ5.6, ISO 2000. I also put a green gel on my flash, and still shot RAW, AutoWB, Matrix, TTL. Seems to be better. Also had the flash on the RRS bracket but used a Joe Demb Flip-It at about a 45° angle- the flash was vertical and the Flip-It directed some light towards the subjects.
http://www.wraight.com/cafe/misc/flash 03.jpg

3. The next one was very similar, same night, earlier in the night. Only difference was the end I was in was darker, so I had ISO set to 2500.
http://www.wraight.com/cafe/misc/flash 05.jpg

4. Hockey portrait, in a darker setting. Took my Sekonic light meter this time (#2 & #3 were eyeballed) and changed the settings a bit, 1/125, ƒ5.6, ISO 2000, one stop lower based on the light meter settings. Still had a green gel (the standard Nikon one) over my flash, AutoWB, Matrix, TTL, Flip-It. I'm wondering why the background is so warm. I went a little higher on the SS because my subjects had moved in a different shoot and blurred.

http://www.wraight.com/cafe/misc/flash 06.jpg

Any thoughts/suggestions? Am I on the right/wrong approach? Given how well the gym is lit, should I have just shot ambient and Manual flash a couple of stops under? Any tweaks?

TIA...

Chris,

With just one SB-800, I think I would just shoot ambient and then brought in some fill flash (TTL -1EV or the appropriate power setting).

One challenge with having the flash be the primary light source for the subject (but not the entire background) is now you are dealing with mixed light sources--and mixed colors. You mentioned that you were gelling the flash (which helps), but it isn't easy to get a good match with gymnasium lights--especially if they are cycling.

If you have the time, I would consider mounting the SB-800 (or two) to a light(s) and then shooting through an umbrella. The umbrella will spread the light plenty to cover a larger area or larger group.

Glenn
 
Joined
Apr 3, 2006
Messages
5,614
Location
Texas
1. First this effort. I had my SB-800 mounted on a RRS Wedding bracket and the diffuser (no gel), aimed directly at the group...shot RAW, 1/160, ƒ4, ISO 800, Matrix, TTL. I don't like the reflections on the floor; I was able to bring the ambient up in post, etc.


There are of course always preferences. Not sure what you were showing, but I might have stood closer for this first one. I think they are all too wide for the subject (just one opinion). In the first one esp, a much tighter crop would make everyone larger (recognizable), and would crop out most of floor reflection (a little Clone Tool for any left). Just an opinion, but I don't see what all the surroundings adds, surely some of it can be left out? Otherwise it seems pretty good.

The overall choice is if you want to balance ambient - if you don't, the background will be dark, not always necessarily bad, if you want the subjects to stand out against it. If less background is shown, less of a major part of subject, then it could stand to be darker. I think you are doing pretty good.


4. Hockey portrait, in a darker setting. Took my Sekonic light meter this time (#2 & #3 were eyeballed) and changed the settings a bit, 1/125, ƒ5.6, ISO 2000, one stop lower based on the light meter settings. Still had a green gel (the standard Nikon one) over my flash, AutoWB, Matrix, TTL, Flip-It. I'm wondering why the background is so warm. I went a little higher on the SS because my subjects had moved in a different shoot and blurred.


Any thoughts/suggestions? Am I on the right/wrong approach? Given how well the gym is lit, should I have just shot ambient and Manual flash a couple of stops under? Any tweaks?
What are you actually doing to WB in Raw processing? My own notion is that leaving it "As Shot" is never as good as just clicking Flash or Daylight in Raw. These are of course not that simple.

Auto WB is normally not great for flash - however, with normal Nikon hotshoe flash, Auto WB can become a plus, because then CLS communicates the color temperature of the flash tube at the actual power level used, and if Auto WB, this takes over, and the Exif can report that temperature for WB (instead of analyzing the image pixels and guessing at it).

The camera manuals all say not to use Auto WB with flash. They word it as "Studio flash", I think just meaning to exclude the hot shoe speedlights and the Nikon Color Temperature Information Communication system. But again, if shooting Raw, it could not matter less what the camera does about WB.

Mixed lighting is of course a problem, and if you put a green gel on the flash, unless it is the newer SB-700/SB-900 system, the system won't know about the gel. The system reports one thing to Auto WB (without it), but the light is something else (with it). This is really only about JPG of course, because this temperature report will not ever affect what you can still do in RAW (the report can be ignored in RAW, instead just do what it needs). Again, if adjusting WB in Raw, it does not matter what the camera thinks (except for the rear LCD preview).

And of course, the green gel only affects the flash, and near subject, and the flash cannot reach to the background. In mixed lighting, you have to set WB for the background ambient (in Raw), and gel the flash to be close and acceptable. That gel is the one thing not easily done in Raw. :smile:

Next time, take a white card, and take some test shots with it in the ambient (same lighting). This will greatly aid your Raw manipulations (but ambient may not match your flash).
Maybe see http://www.scantips.com/lights/flashbasics1f.html
 
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Joined
Dec 6, 2006
Messages
16,847
Location
West of Boston
Thanks Wayne, appreciate the comments...yup, I did crop the first one a light tighter in post...but will stand closer next time.

Yeah, I'm adjusting the WB by eye in post...interesting comment on the AutoWB.

thanks again...
 
Joined
Apr 3, 2006
Messages
5,614
Location
Texas
Yeah, I'm adjusting the WB by eye in post...

The white uniforms in the four you posted here are all good candidates for simply clicking on the white uniform with the Raw WB eyedropper. They are not off much, but can be just a bit closer. A real white card could be better, but try it, I think you will like it.

That just matches the flash and near subject. It could be detrimental to the background, unless the flash color matches the background. Otherwise, there is no compromise that helps both, so to speak.
 

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