do you just settle for harsh light here?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by danzel_c, May 28, 2012.

  1. in a bright background outdoor situation with only a speedlight flash (say 580 ex) do you find yourself settling for bare flash type light just
    to get a proper flash exposure? this is assuming your subject is in the shade with a bright background and you're trying to properly expose
    the background and use flash to light the subject. i took some test shots and usually have to take my omnbounce off the flashhead . things
    I've taken into account are using a wide aperature with relatively high iso and fast shutter speed.
  2. Yes.
    However, unless you are forced to render the bright background with all detail, why not just change the background?
    Or, if not forced to render the detail, blow just until it would wash out, which favors the ambient in the foreground and your subjects won't look so flashy.
    Anyway, there is no point in having an Omnibounce on the flash, since it does not make the light source appreciably larger (meaning NOT softer) and it robs the flash of power.
    If you are using High Speed Sync, you are definitely not going to get what you need, unless you are pretty close to them, meaning full lengths without distortion would be difficult. I say this because using a wide aperture, high ISO and fast shutter speed while trying to retain detail in very bright backgrounds would necessitate HSS.
  3. Forgot--you can use an ND filter for wide apertures.
  4. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    . . . and with a 580, stay within 10 to 12 ft SD - otherwise you will run out of Flash Fill Power.
    HSS robs more Flash Power - you'll be down to about 8ft SD to get any reasonable Range of Fill options.
    . . . and I agree with Nadine - IF you want to use a wide aperture (Large Aperture / narrow DoF / Blurred Background – then better let the background bleed to close to blown out.
    And IMO do NOT use high ISO and really fast Shutter Speed: if you can settle for Half Shots or Tighter, then you’ll get a reasonably Shallow DoF at F/4~F/5.6 (on FF camera).
  5. great...thanks for the responses! when i'm using flash in bright sunlight it seems as though i can't get away from using high speed sync mode. i need the wider f stop for my flash to properly expose which takes my shutter speed above sync speed. this is usually when i have stubborn subjects that don't want to move to a better location.
  6. As said, you need to keep your distance to subject down to around 10-15' max to let the flash hit with a normal exposure.
    HSS is not you friend in this situation as a rule, although can be used effectively in some wide aperture circumstances where you want blue skies.
    For what you describe, setting your flash to manual mode and dial it in (If fully back lit w/sun, I would begin at 8-10' from subjects with about half power and ride it up/down according to the aperture/iso I wanted). If you get into the habit of using manual flash for formals/setup shots, it becomes almost as fast as TTL, and leave a slight amout more juice for the flash to deliver as it does not use anything as preflash or to calculate exposure.
  7. Danzel--you realize that you CAN get away from HSS. Nobody is forcing you to use it. Do you really see any difference in the flash on your subjects? I'd be surprised if you can, unless you are very close to them (maybe within 6 feet).
    Also you don't NEED the wide aperture for the flash to properly expose. You can control the situation. In fact, it is truer to say you NEED a smaller aperture for bright sun situations with flash.
    I shoot in bright sun all the time here in California. I also have stubborn clients. I don't use HSS. I use the basic sunlight exposure--ISO 100, f11, 1/250th as a base. I vary the aperture from f6.3-f11, depending upon how much I care to favor the highlights or shadows, and whether I'm using flash.
    As William W says above, IF you want a wide aperture, tele lenses (with tight shots) will give you a reasonably shallow DOF just because they are tele lenses. I've shot at f8 with tele lenses and gotten nice OOF backgrounds. It also depends how far away the background is.
    If you want really wide apertures, use an ND filter.
    Back to the harsh flash. There really is no easy solution for this. Shoemounts are puny in comparison to the sun. Best to know the right light patterns to favor the human face and figure, and get the best out of light to subject distance. If you put the light really close to your subjects, there is more severe fall off, making the light 'feel' even harsher.
    Modifiers are pretty much out of the question unless you are talking about the big guns, where you have power to spare to the modifier. Shoemounts are not gonna make that grade.
  8. At 10 to 12 feet, even with the ND filter I'd probably opt to setting the 580 to manual. Try 1/2 power and if you are under exposed go full power. The 580 flash is not very accurate. Maybe take a few practic shots before heading to the gig.
  9. The problem with the 580 flash is it won't come close to lighting up the faces at F11 or higher, thus the need to move it a shade closer. It's a really hard situation because most likely you will get flash glare off the foreheads, cheeks, and noses. Thank God for photoshop. although it can be a real problem if you have to correct 30 of these images.

    You may also consider a polarized filter. It actually helps a lot with reducing glare as well as reducing your F stop. Maybe give this a try too.You may be able to shoot your flash off of the cameras hotshoe.
  10. You mention that you "usually have to take [your] omnibounce off the flash head" when you're shooting outside. Why are you using it outside at all?
  11. Get your flash off camera, that will let you get it closer to the subject and higher up, and you can shoot with a tele lens to compress the background, which tends to make an overexposed background look much more appealing than it would if shot wide. I shot the attached photos with a Quantum QFlash, which gives a more diffused light than a shoe mount flash, but the technique would work with a 580EX too.
  12. It is worth mentioning that if you want your flash as powerful as possible in relationship to the sun, set the shutter to the x-sync speed.
    Higher ISO or larger apertures will not change the relationship between the sun and flash.
    Using a ND filter will allow you to use larger apertures but will not change the relationship between the sun and flash.
    Using a higher shutter speed than x-sync WILL change the relationship between the sun and flash - it will make the flash less powerful.
  13. I have to add another comment. I can't remember the last time I couldn't find shade somewhere at a wedding. I may be in the sun all day, but with the people I can pretty much always find a spot. At backyard weddings I've been know to knock of a neighbors door that has a bit of shade and some flowers or tree/trees. I've never been turned down. I've actually gone back to these homes and offered a free portrait sitting for the holidays. Most of them never called.

    The beach is my only problem, this is why I tend to bring out my big guns such as the Quantum X series. 400 watt seconds. Now days watch ebay for Norman 400 watters. Not too expensive and much less then the X series, in most cases. If you find a deal on a Quantum X flash jump on it. Quantum is very good and has a very fast turnaround repairing them. You can use a Norman 400 watt battery unit with these X flash units.

    It's always wise to have help, a school student to take down the strobes and stands for you. $100 or so will make a student very happy and make you very happy knowing you won't need to tear down your gear, when you need to be shooting. Just budget for this. Maybe ask the couple if they have someone that wouldn't mind doing this and you will save $100 or so. I usually give the kids more money if they stay for the reception and help you carry the gear to your car.

    Hope this helps. Oh, at the beach I always use a polarized filter, not an ND filter. The reason is simple! I've never tried an ND filter so I work with what I am comfortable with. The ND filter may work well. I surely like avoiding glare and this filter works well.

    I forget the name of the filter, but the top part is darker then the bottom, so the sky turns a nice dark blue, instead of a washed out sky. The other polarized filter is even throughout the filter, no change so the sky probably won,t get very dark.

    Someone please tell me the names of the 2 different filters. I'm having a brain "Far"".
  14. If you are looking at matching the sun quality then yes direct flash is best. If you want to improve on the quality of light hitting the subject then use a softbox of some sort. The problem is really the crispness of the background which needs to be soften down a bit and the only way to do that is by using a ND filter to allow you to open up and make the background go out of focus more which gives a sense a softness.

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