Strobist: The light is just one layer...

Discussion in 'General flash photography, lighting, and technique' started by Uncle Frank, Jul 29, 2007.

  1. Surprisingly, since he makes his living by telling people how to light things, Dave Hobby dispells the notion that that photography is all about light.

    I've been out of town for a while, and am just catching up on this forum and the Strobist blog. I'm glad to see both are in full swing! My trip was to attend a family birthday party... my mom's 90th. It was an evening affair, and the venue was a crowded restaurant with mixed lighting, so I included two sb800s, a light stand, and an umbrella in my travel kit. While the tables were being set, I scouted for an area I could claim as my "studio". There was just enough room in front of the wine racks, and I drafted my older brother as my test model while I dialed in the settings.

    I put the umbrella stand to camera right, and placed the second sb800 on a table at the left, shooting straight up at the white ceiling. I dialed in their power levels in manual, and triggered the shots with my sb800. Here's a few examples.

    The final test shot.

    My daughter and son-in-law.
    View attachment 108531

    And here's the birthday girl, with my kids and their spouses.
    View attachment 108532

    The bounced flash may have created more problems than it solved, and there's some funky shadows, but the results are miles ahead of what I would have gotten pre-Strobist.
  2. BigPixel

    BigPixel Guest

    Looks good Frank. If a newbie like myself could make one suggestion (and take it from that point of view) you might have gotten better separation from the bg if the subjects were a bit further away from the rack and if your second 800 was used from behind at maybe 1/4-1/16 power with a diffuser. Might have created a nice rear hair light that also would have helped separate the subject from bg...

    but what do I know. I'm pretty new to all this and trying to figure it out day by day.
  3. You're absolutely right, Mike, but the geometry of the situation didn't allow me to back up any further, and I only had one lightstand. I had to play the cards as dealt.
  4. BigPixel

    BigPixel Guest

    Those flat little mounting plates that come with the 800s are pretty versatile Frank. I've used mine on 5 gal tubs, anything that would support them. They even have bottom screw mounts for the4 common tripod thread and so I use mine on a tripod sometimes. but if you didn't have room to back up, that's another story.

    The exposure in #1 is fantastic btw. Nice use of light.
  5. sypher


    May 24, 2006
    Cougar Country
    I really like the last one...the b-day girl is lit up perfectly
  6. They are all good but the first one is a great shot from a lighting perspective Frank.
  7. jcovert

    jcovert Guest

    Those are awesome shots Frank! Love the big group pic. And that was a great idea to use the winerack as a BG! very pro looking.
  8. I like them all, but especially the last one. I find the various shadow patterns on each face to be a bit different and add interest and visual texture. The lighting is rich and layered. Glad you had the ability to set up your umbrella, as the final result was so much more pleasing than the shots you took with the bracket and light box. Nice when you have the ability to be more flexible...

    I'm learning a lot by watching your work, Frank. Keep schooling us! :smile:

    Hopefully I'll get a chance to post some of my very first single umbrella shots, which, unfortunately, look like rough first tries. I'm a bit nervous about it, but hopefully I can gain some constructive criticism.
  9. Thanks, Keith. I'm coming to the conclusion that the "umbrella at 45 degrees left and umbrella at 45 degrees right" is the only sane solution for groups. I just picked up a 45" shoot-through umbrella to pair with my 45" shoot-into umbrella, and will show some results as soon as I can find a group willing to sit still.
  10. StephanieHelen


    Jun 9, 2006
    Nice family shots Frank, the first is a really nice portrait (he looks like your avatar : ). Good genes, Mom looks much younger than 90.
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