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Amature needs feedback on portrait lighting

 
 
DeanB
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      03-23-2007
Ok, aside from the dinner around her face, and spilt on her sweater,
and the generally unprepared I-just-dont-care hairstyle, can some here
take a look at the lighting in this portrait and tell me what you
think?

http://i11.tinypic.com/2colx5e.jpg

I had the flash (sb800) pointing up around 45 degrees and around to
the right also 45 degrees, so there was no direct flash onto her face.
Above the flash was a 2' reflector, about 2 feet above the camera and
to the right, angled to reflect onto her.

This is my first ever evening with the flash and reflector, so I
openly welcome all criticism.

50mm f/1.4 @ f4, distance 4', wb(flash), ev 0.0

Dean

 
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David Dyer-Bennet
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      03-23-2007
DeanB wrote:
> Ok, aside from the dinner around her face, and spilt on her sweater,
> and the generally unprepared I-just-dont-care hairstyle, can some here
> take a look at the lighting in this portrait and tell me what you
> think?
>
> http://i11.tinypic.com/2colx5e.jpg
>
> I had the flash (sb800) pointing up around 45 degrees and around to
> the right also 45 degrees, so there was no direct flash onto her face.
> Above the flash was a 2' reflector, about 2 feet above the camera and
> to the right, angled to reflect onto her.
>
> This is my first ever evening with the flash and reflector, so I
> openly welcome all criticism.
>
> 50mm f/1.4 @ f4, distance 4', wb(flash), ev 0.0


First of all, definitely underexposed.

If you get her further from the backdrop, the shadow there will be
thrown further from her (probably out of the photo entirely, which is good).

See how sharp a shadow the chin is casting on the neck? *Something* is
sending hard light her way; quite possibly the head is spreading the
beam wider than you expect, or something, and it's reaching her direct
in addition to off the reflector. (That's the first, very dark, shadow,
not the second, larger, lighter, softer-edged one.)

Aside from the strictly technical, I like her expression and head
position. The contrast of the relatively formal pose and relatively
careful lighting does contrast somewhat strangely with the amount of
dinner visible .
 
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DeanB
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      03-23-2007
On Mar 23, 12:20 am, David Dyer-Bennet <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> DeanB wrote:
> > Ok, aside from the dinner around her face, and spilt on her sweater,
> > and the generally unprepared I-just-dont-care hairstyle, can some here
> > take a look at the lighting in this portrait and tell me what you
> > think?

>
> >http://i11.tinypic.com/2colx5e.jpg

>
> > I had the flash (sb800) pointing up around 45 degrees and around to
> > the right also 45 degrees, so there was no direct flash onto her face.
> > Above the flash was a 2' reflector, about 2 feet above the camera and
> > to the right, angled to reflect onto her.

>
> > This is my first ever evening with the flash and reflector, so I
> > openly welcome all criticism.

>
> > 50mm f/1.4 @ f4, distance 4', wb(flash), ev 0.0

>
> First of all, definitely underexposed.
>
> If you get her further from the backdrop, the shadow there will be
> thrown further from her (probably out of the photo entirely, which is good).
>
> See how sharp a shadow the chin is casting on the neck? *Something* is
> sending hard light her way; quite possibly the head is spreading the
> beam wider than you expect, or something, and it's reaching her direct
> in addition to off the reflector. (That's the first, very dark, shadow,
> not the second, larger, lighter, softer-edged one.)
>
> Aside from the strictly technical, I like her expression and head
> position. The contrast of the relatively formal pose and relatively
> careful lighting does contrast somewhat strangely with the amount of
> dinner visible .- Hide quoted text -
>
> - Show quoted text -


Hi David - thanks for the reply!

I noticed after I posted that the sharp shadow was there, seems that
the flash was definitely providing some direct light, just a few
degrees it seems, now I look at the setup. There are two lights in
here eyes too.

Is it coming out underexposed because of the white background? I had
the camera set to matrix metering centered on her face so I thought it
would be ok, but it seems not. There was no real ambient light, so
should I just increase the flash ev up a little, maybe 1/3 or 2/3
stop? (She's asleep now, so I'll have to wait till tomorrow

 
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bugbear
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      03-23-2007
DeanB wrote:
>
> Is it coming out underexposed because of the white background? I had
> the camera set to matrix metering centered on her face so I thought it
> would be ok, but it seems not. There was no real ambient light, so
> should I just increase the flash ev up a little, maybe 1/3 or 2/3
> stop? (She's asleep now, so I'll have to wait till tomorrow
>


I know "little" of this, but I don't see how a camera
can "meter" for flash light, which doesn't exist
until you hit the shutter

BugBear

(who had a Pentax LX film camera that actually did meter
*during* exposure, but it couldn't do flash that way)
 
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ASAAR
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      03-23-2007
On Fri, 23 Mar 2007 10:00:21 +0000, bugbear wrote:

> I know "little" of this, but I don't see how a camera
> can "meter" for flash light, which doesn't exist
> until you hit the shutter


From the SB-800's manual:

> Monitor Preflashes
> Just before the flash fires, the SB-800 fires a series of
> imperceptible preflashes that are detected by the camera’s
> TTL Multi-Sensor and analyzed for brightness and contrast


> • i-TTL mode
> This is a TTL auto flash mode in the Nikon Creative Lighting System.
> Monitor Preflashes are fired at all times. The subject is correctly
> exposed by the light from the flash lighting and the exposure is less
> affected by the ambient light (p. 37).



For the OP's picture, if more ambient light was used the
under-chin shadows would have been lightened. But that would be
difficult as 1/60 sec, f/4 was used for the exposure. Brighter room
lighting or an additional flash could help, and possibly by also
reducing the SB-800's output level.


> (who had a Pentax LX film camera that actually did meter
> *during* exposure, but it couldn't do flash that way)


It would be nice if metering could be done off the sensor as it
was done off the film, as the preflashes can present problems, but I
think that the occurrences of such problems are pretty rare.

 
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DeanB
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      03-23-2007
On Mar 23, 8:06 am, ASAAR <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> On Fri, 23 Mar 2007 10:00:21 +0000, bugbear wrote:
> > I know "little" of this, but I don't see how a camera
> > can "meter" for flash light, which doesn't exist
> > until you hit the shutter

>
> From the SB-800's manual:
>
> > Monitor Preflashes
> > Just before the flash fires, the SB-800 fires a series of
> > imperceptible preflashes that are detected by the camera's
> > TTL Multi-Sensor and analyzed for brightness and contrast
> > i-TTL mode
> > This is a TTL auto flash mode in the Nikon Creative Lighting System.
> > Monitor Preflashes are fired at all times. The subject is correctly
> > exposed by the light from the flash lighting and the exposure is less
> > affected by the ambient light (p. 37).

>
> For the OP's picture, if more ambient light was used the
> under-chin shadows would have been lightened. But that would be
> difficult as 1/60 sec, f/4 was used for the exposure. Brighter room
> lighting or an additional flash could help, and possibly by also
> reducing the SB-800's output level.
>
> > (who had a Pentax LX film camera that actually did meter
> > *during* exposure, but it couldn't do flash that way)

>
> It would be nice if metering could be done off the sensor as it
> was done off the film, as the preflashes can present problems, but I
> think that the occurrences of such problems are pretty rare.


Ok thanks for that, I will look at increasing the ambient. (Sleeping
moms hate bright lights in the living room though, so it will be
tricky).

Any comments on the under-exposure? Is it the white background? The
dark hair?

 
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Zed Pobre
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      03-23-2007
bugbear <bugbear@trim_papermule.co.uk_trim> wrote:
>
> I know "little" of this, but I don't see how a camera
> can "meter" for flash light, which doesn't exist
> until you hit the shutter


Not true, actually. Modern flashes flash at least twice, though the
intervals are so short that most eyes can't perceive it. The first
("pre-flash") is used for metering.

--
Zed Pobre <(E-Mail Removed)> a.k.a. Zed Pobre <(E-Mail Removed)>
PGP key and fingerprint available on finger; encrypted mail welcomed.
 
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David Dyer-Bennet
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      03-23-2007
DeanB wrote:

> Hi David - thanks for the reply!
>
> I noticed after I posted that the sharp shadow was there, seems that
> the flash was definitely providing some direct light, just a few
> degrees it seems, now I look at the setup. There are two lights in
> here eyes too.


True, that's another useful clue (and they're quite small).

> Is it coming out underexposed because of the white background? I had
> the camera set to matrix metering centered on her face so I thought it
> would be ok, but it seems not. There was no real ambient light, so
> should I just increase the flash ev up a little, maybe 1/3 or 2/3
> stop? (She's asleep now, so I'll have to wait till tomorrow


I find iTTL remarkably disappointing. It doesn't come *close* to what
my N90+SB28 could do for exposure accuracy. Perhaps a lot of that is
simply due to the differences between color negative and digital; the
color neg can tolerate lots of overexposure, whereas the digital is more
like slide film and blows out the highlights fairly easily, and iTTL has
to take account of that. Its reputation is that its better than Canon's
system; and if neither of the top DSLR makers, each of which brought out
a new flash system to handle digital, can get it to work as well as the
old one did with film, it's almost certainly because it's *hard* .

Basically, you have to fine-tune exposures manually by reference to the
histogram, or adjust later (your particular photo is well within range
to be adjusted later to look perfect for overall exposure, I think,
though I haven't actually tried to do so).

 
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David Dyer-Bennet
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      03-23-2007
ASAAR wrote:

> It would be nice if metering could be done off the sensor as it
> was done off the film, as the preflashes can present problems, but I
> think that the occurrences of such problems are pretty rare.


One of our cats reacts fast enough to *always* have her eyes closed when
I use the preflashes; I've had to resort to manual exposure to get
decent pictures of her.

It seems to work with some people, too. I guess they find it convenient
to get a clear signal when it's time to blink .
 
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David Dyer-Bennet
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      03-23-2007
Zed Pobre wrote:
> bugbear <bugbear@trim_papermule.co.uk_trim> wrote:
>> I know "little" of this, but I don't see how a camera
>> can "meter" for flash light, which doesn't exist
>> until you hit the shutter

>
> Not true, actually. Modern flashes flash at least twice, though the
> intervals are so short that most eyes can't perceive it. The first
> ("pre-flash") is used for metering.


It's certainly obvious to me!

When I'm using full CLS with multiple flashes, it feels like the
sequence of pre-flashes goes on a LONG time (you get flashes from the
master, then flashes from the first slave group, then flashes from the
master, then flashes from the second slave group...). It's really only
a small fraction of a second, but I can certainly see it.

 
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