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Outdoor fill flash for a wedding?

Discussion in 'General flash photography, lighting, and technique' started by Connahhh, Aug 8, 2008.

  1. Connahhh


    Oct 27, 2007
    I'm going to be shooting a wedding on the 16th. It's going to be outdoors, so I'm counting on needing fill flash. I have an SB-800 and three pocketwizards with the possibility of borrowing another SB-800 if needed.

    So, today, I was out practicing my fill flash technique. It's ugly. I think my main problem is that the light is too hard so I'm concerned about needing a softbox. Unless I'm missing some technique, do you guys have anything to share? Should I use my pocketwizards and hold the flash in one hand to get more directional light? Skip fill flash all together and just use natural light?

    Help, please!
  2. It's easier if we can see some samples along with shooting data for both camera and flash. Don't worry that the samples are bad. If they were good, you wouldn't need help.

    What time of day will the wedding be held?

    If you're going to hold a flash in your outstretched left hand, PW's are overkill... and they'll steal your ability to use ttl. Since your d50 popup can't be used as a comander, a sync cord would be your best approach.
  3. Connahhh


    Oct 27, 2007
    I can't post the samples until tomorrow, no card reader in this computer. The wedding is from 12-4 and I'll be there from 11-5.

    I realize pw's are overkill, but I don't have much of a budget for this wedding. It's more of a favor for a friend and isn't paying top notch.
  4. Is it outdoors?

    I've looked through your galleries, and you're a good photographer. But it seems like you're new to flash photography, and there's not that much time left. A wedding is no time to experiment. Go with what you do best. If that means all natural light photographs, so be it. Or maybe after seeing your samples, we can help you get better on-camera pics. Jmho.
  5. Connahhh


    Oct 27, 2007
    Yes, the entire wedding is outdoors. I'm use to waiting for good light and put up my feet during, well, 11-5.

    I'm not really knew to flash photography, I use it quite often. But it's always off camera with two SB-800's. I just never put it on camera, which is my issue. I've got a little more than a week until the wedding, is on camera flash photography too complex to learn? Or could I atleast get a basic understanding if I needed to apply it at the wedding?

    I'll post those pictures as soon I get the chance.
  6. jfrancis


    May 8, 2005
    Orlando, FL
    How are you using the fill? If it is just as fill, I don't think you have to be too concerned about the directionality of the flash - after all, it's job is just to soften the shadows caused by the (presumably very directional) natural light. In this situation, you can often get away with the flash on a bracket, or even on-camera. Dial the flash EV down to taste. My preference is to shoot in manual exposure mode in camera and set the SB800 to TTL. This gives me more consistent results than TTL-BL mode. I agree that the PWs are overkill unless you want to use the flash way off camera. That can be cool if you then underexpose the ambient and allow the flash to act as main. Holding the flash in an outstretched hand (a la Frank) you could use one of your SB800s to trigger it.
  7. Not at all. It's the simplest way to use a flash, since cls will do it all for you. JF has already given you the rudiments. I'd just add that ittl breaks down if you're too close to your subject. I think you need 3 or 4 feet minimum. And a light modifier, like a Lumiquest mini softbox, would be a great help.
  8. As been mentioned, if your "THE" photographer at this wedding i would not experiment.

    Using the speedlights without modifying the light will be to harsh for your subject, imo.

    Maybe you get lucky and get a overcast sky?, and can just use a silver/gold reflector for fill. Or if its sunny get a scrim panel to diffuse the harsh light.

    If you insist on using the sb800 for fill i suggest you use umbrellas instead of a small softbox.

    I dont shoot weddings generally, but iv shot a few this year upon special request from people i cant say no to... My last wedding was an all outdoor wedding aswell.

    I used mostly ambient light that i diffused, the few flash shots i took i overpowered the sun with a batterypack.

    Diffused sun light gives a very soft and flattering light if you do it right.
  9. Connahhh


    Oct 27, 2007
    The reflector is a good idea, but I dont have access to an assistant. How should I go about that?
  10. MurphyD


    Jan 17, 2007
    South Texas
    Plenty of time to learn a simple method. And I HATE unnatural looking flash.

    1. Get the flash close and keep it close. The farther you are away the smaller the light source and less natural it looks. One light stand or recruit an assistant in the 12 -15 year range who will be bored anyway.
    If you can't do the stand thing, get the camera in close as well and use your left hand to hold the flash
    2. Meter manually. Start with .5 to 2 stops under for the bg you want. ( lighter or darker)
    3. Have the flash just outside the view finder or in your left hand pointed straight up on about 1/4 power. Adjust as necessary. You just want a touch of added light and the sb800 straight up will do this. Even the white bounce card up an eighth of an inch will create harsher shadows than I like, but try it and see what you like.
    4. Unless absolutely, absolutely necessary never ever point the flash straight at the subject. And then try to find a way to bounce it at an oblique angle. If that still won't work, Frank is correct use a modifier.
    5. Tomorrow go practice about 100 shots at noon. Take some backlit and some sidelit.
    Move the flash in and out a bit but keep it close. Move the power up and down a bit but keep it close. Change the angle but keep it close
    6. A hanging potted plant is a great model and you can move it around. I took at least 300 of my potted plant before I kind of got the hang of this.
    7. Pray for cloudy to partly cloudy weather.

  11. Connahhh


    Oct 27, 2007
    Good tips Dave. Definetly going to give them a try tomorrow.
  12. You could alsways shoot with the flash on camera in TTL mode dialed back -1.7 . It would be easier to brighten things up later than get rid of too much flash .
  13. Get one from the party or get a lightstand if you can.

    Why do you want to use the flash on camera ? if your used to have it off ?
  14. hensil


    Jan 19, 2007
    Abu Dhabi - UAE
    jfrancis has given you very good suggestions. To add to that you may have to use gels on Sb800 to match the color of ambient light. In the bright day light you don't need any gels but during sunset or sunrise you will have to use amber gel. Since you are using flash only for fill just put it on your camera hot shoe in TTL-BL and reduce the flash output from -1 to -2 according to your liking. You may need only one flash for fill usually in line with the camera. Practice before you actually shoot wedding. All the best.
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