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Question: Bounce reflectors for indoor portraits

 
 
BD
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      04-18-2006
Hey, folks.

I have a 300d with a 550EX flash, and an off-shoe cord. I have Lots of
lenses, but no real lighting equipment to speak of.

I am working to improve my technique with portraiture.

Basically, my tastes are such that I prefer b&w to color, and I like to
experiment with lighting and shadow.

I did a recent photo shoot in which, rather than using direct flash,
just leaned a large white piece of cardstock against a nearby chair,
and aimed it so that the light would reflect off the card and onto the
subject. I put the flash on the off-shoe cord, and just pointed it at
the card.

TTL seems to have done all the work, as the results were nice - drop
the color with Photoshop's Channel Mixer, add a little Diffuse Glow,
and I was happy with the results.

So the question is - is this technique 'too hokey'? Is hanging
reflectors around the subject and using a hand-held flash with TTL a
'reasonable' strategy for inexpensive diffuse lighting?

And, more importantly, if this is the level I'm working on, is there
something just as simple, and reasonably inexpensive, that I could use
to improve my results further? I'm looking for something simple and
obvious, that would make as much sense as hanging white paper
reflectors.

A remote flash would be a good idea, but I can't really justify the
expense if I can get 80% of the same result for 20% of the cost...

I may invest in a 'real' White/Silver/Gold bounce reflector set...

Thanks!!

BD.

 
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Floyd L. Davidson
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      04-18-2006
"BD" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>I did a recent photo shoot in which, rather than using direct flash,
>just leaned a large white piece of cardstock against a nearby chair,
>and aimed it so that the light would reflect off the card and onto the
>subject. I put the flash on the off-shoe cord, and just pointed it at
>the card.
>
>TTL seems to have done all the work, as the results were nice - drop
>the color with Photoshop's Channel Mixer, add a little Diffuse Glow,
>and I was happy with the results.
>
>So the question is - is this technique 'too hokey'? Is hanging
>reflectors around the subject and using a hand-held flash with TTL a
>'reasonable' strategy for inexpensive diffuse lighting?
>
>And, more importantly, if this is the level I'm working on, is there
>something just as simple, and reasonably inexpensive, that I could use
>to improve my results further? I'm looking for something simple and
>obvious, that would make as much sense as hanging white paper
>reflectors.
>
>A remote flash would be a good idea, but I can't really justify the
>expense if I can get 80% of the same result for 20% of the cost...


Old flash units are cheap, and so are optical triggers. You
don't need to spend much at all. In fact, for $100 you can have
a very versatile lighting setup, with two remote flash units.

For example, you can get Vivitar 283 flash units for less than
$20, and if you are patient you can find one with a VP-1
variable power module. Add an $8 optical trigger and a $10
tripod, and for less than $40 each you have a remote flash unit
that can do most anything, plus it is lightweight and travels
easily.

To diffuse the flash, try using a rubberband to hold an 8.5x11
inch piece of white paper wrapped around the flash, folded
and/or cut as needed to bounce the light where it should be.
You might also find a white plastic container that can be cut so
that it will fit over the flash unit (or buy a commercial one
for $20). (I cut the bottoms off of isopropyl alcohol
containers to fit over Nikon flash units. The Vivitar 283 is a
little bigger, so some other container would have to be used for
it.)

The trick to using all of that is *manual* control and exposure.
Set the on camera flash as appropriate for straight on lighting
(which might amount to just enough of a flash to trigger your
remote units), and set the remote units to what you think is
about right. Take a test shot and use the camera's LCD to tell
you if the exposure is right (most cameras can be set to flash
areas that are over exposed). Adjust exposure or lights as
needed...

(Then of course you can blow the whole "cheap" part of this by
getting two or more Quantum external battery units to power
your flash units... but it still isn't really expensive.)

--
Floyd L. Davidson <http://www.apaflo.com/floyd_davidson>
Ukpeagvik (Barrow, Alaska) http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed)
 
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k-man
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      04-18-2006

> Hey, folks.
>
> I have a 300d with a 550EX flash, and an off-shoe cord. I have Lots of
> lenses, but no real lighting equipment to speak of.
>
>
> I am working to improve my technique with portraiture.
>
>
> Basically, my tastes are such that I prefer b&w to color, and I like to
> experiment with lighting and shadow.
>
>
> I did a recent photo shoot in which, rather than using direct flash, just
> leaned a large white piece of cardstock against a nearby chair, and aimed
> it so that the light would reflect off the card and onto the subject. I
> put the flash on the off-shoe cord, and just pointed it at the card.
>
>
> TTL seems to have done all the work, as the results were nice - drop the
> color with Photoshop's Channel Mixer, add a little Diffuse Glow, and I was
> happy with the results.
>
>
> So the question is - is this technique 'too hokey'? Is hanging
> reflectors around the subject and using a hand-held flash with TTL a
> 'reasonable' strategy for inexpensive diffuse lighting?
>
>
> And, more importantly, if this is the level I'm working on, is there
> something just as simple, and reasonably inexpensive, that I could use to
> improve my results further? I'm looking for something simple and obvious,
> that would make as much sense as hanging white paper reflectors.
>
>
> A remote flash would be a good idea, but I can't really justify the
> expense if I can get 80% of the same result for 20% of the cost...
>
>
> I may invest in a 'real' White/Silver/Gold bounce reflector set...
>
>
> Thanks!!
>
>
> BD.
>
>


Photography is all about lighting. So, your technique is not too hokey
at all. Floor reflectors, wall reflectors, overhead reflectors.
Whatever it takes sometimes. As long as you're not scaring away your
clients, that is. Ever see how they shoot movies? On the big screen,
you might see a close-up of two people walking alone through the woods.
Step back 20 feet and you'll see that those people are surrounded by
lighting guys holding diffusers and reflectors as close as they can to
the stars' faces.

Unless you're trying to make someone look evil (i.e., with very harsh
lighting), you should never use direct flash. Bounce it if you can or
use a diffuser cap. There are exceptions of course. But, in general,
for people, stick to bouncing and diffusing.

I can't remember his name; but someone is produces what is essentially
a heavy, white, plastic globe that sits on your flash. Looks almost
like a generic household hallway ceiling globe. Works well, though.
Gives off some pretty diffuse light. People use it for weddings and
other work where you can't bounce off a ceiling or wall (works
awesomely for outdoor group pics). Even with that, though, you might
still want to bounce the light for close-up portrait work. Just
depends on the effect you want. You might want to just hang up a
couple incandesent lamps to add to the effect.

Kevin

 
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BD
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      04-18-2006
>For example, you can get Vivitar 283

Interesting.

Clearly, I need to educate myself on how these things co-exist with the
primary flash, in terms of metering. But yeah, for that, the price is
certainly right.

My next shoot is likely to be sooner than I could collect all the bits
for a remote slave flash - so I expect I'll use the cards for the next
gig and investigate a slave flash afterwards. It does feel a little
less 'predictable' doing it this way - but the TTL goes a long way to
making it easy.

Thanks!

 
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Pete D
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      04-18-2006
Saw an interesting article about cheap lighting on www.shuttertalk.com used
$20 work lights as studio lights, with being able to white balance in camera
or in post it makes them a good cheap alternative.

"BD" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed) oups.com...
> Hey, folks.
>
> I have a 300d with a 550EX flash, and an off-shoe cord. I have Lots of
> lenses, but no real lighting equipment to speak of.
>
> I am working to improve my technique with portraiture.
>
> Basically, my tastes are such that I prefer b&w to color, and I like to
> experiment with lighting and shadow.
>
> I did a recent photo shoot in which, rather than using direct flash,
> just leaned a large white piece of cardstock against a nearby chair,
> and aimed it so that the light would reflect off the card and onto the
> subject. I put the flash on the off-shoe cord, and just pointed it at
> the card.
>
> TTL seems to have done all the work, as the results were nice - drop
> the color with Photoshop's Channel Mixer, add a little Diffuse Glow,
> and I was happy with the results.
>
> So the question is - is this technique 'too hokey'? Is hanging
> reflectors around the subject and using a hand-held flash with TTL a
> 'reasonable' strategy for inexpensive diffuse lighting?
>
> And, more importantly, if this is the level I'm working on, is there
> something just as simple, and reasonably inexpensive, that I could use
> to improve my results further? I'm looking for something simple and
> obvious, that would make as much sense as hanging white paper
> reflectors.
>
> A remote flash would be a good idea, but I can't really justify the
> expense if I can get 80% of the same result for 20% of the cost...
>
> I may invest in a 'real' White/Silver/Gold bounce reflector set...
>
> Thanks!!
>
> BD.
>



 
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BD
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      04-18-2006
>Saw an interesting article

Yeah, that looks great! Thanks!

 
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BD
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      04-18-2006
>Saw an interesting article about cheap lighting

Is there any sense out there as to what kind of lighting might be
cooler in temperature than the high-power halogens in the article?

 
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Lionel
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      04-19-2006
On 18 Apr 2006 09:05:53 -0700, "BD" <(E-Mail Removed)> opined:

>Hey, folks.
>
>I have a 300d with a 550EX flash, and an off-shoe cord. I have Lots of
>lenses, but no real lighting equipment to speak of.
>
>I am working to improve my technique with portraiture.
>
>Basically, my tastes are such that I prefer b&w to color, and I like to
>experiment with lighting and shadow.
>
>I did a recent photo shoot in which, rather than using direct flash,
>just leaned a large white piece of cardstock against a nearby chair,
>and aimed it so that the light would reflect off the card and onto the
>subject. I put the flash on the off-shoe cord, and just pointed it at
>the card.
>
>TTL seems to have done all the work, as the results were nice - drop
>the color with Photoshop's Channel Mixer, add a little Diffuse Glow,
>and I was happy with the results.
>
>So the question is - is this technique 'too hokey'? Is hanging
>reflectors around the subject and using a hand-held flash with TTL a
>'reasonable' strategy for inexpensive diffuse lighting?


Yes, absolutely. Why waste money on fancy equipment that won't give
you a better result anyway?
--
W
. | ,. w , "Some people are alive only because
\|/ \|/ it is illegal to kill them." Perna condita delenda est
---^----^---------------------------------------------------------------
 
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Lionel
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      04-19-2006
On 18 Apr 2006 16:33:06 -0700, "BD" <(E-Mail Removed)> opined:

>>Saw an interesting article about cheap lighting

>
>Is there any sense out there as to what kind of lighting might be
>cooler in temperature than the high-power halogens in the article?


No, that's pretty much the only reasonable option. You could try
putting a blue stage-lighting gel in front of the halogens.
(I've researched doing this, but haven't actually tried it myself.)
--
W
. | ,. w , "Some people are alive only because
\|/ \|/ it is illegal to kill them." Perna condita delenda est
---^----^---------------------------------------------------------------
 
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BD
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      04-19-2006
>Yes, absolutely. Why waste money on fancy equipment that won't give
you a better result anyway?

I think some inexpensive lighting might give me a better result, in
terms of sheer contrast in the image. I just bought a small lighting
kit similar to the one on the shuttertalk.com site that was quoted
earlier. It was cheap enought that it made sense for another option.

 
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