External Flash Use with D300

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by john_fetcho, Mar 10, 2009.

  1. I normally only shoot sports (with a D300) using available light. I've been asked to do an indoor group shot (in a basketball gym of about 20 people) and would like to try using a flash (SB 800). Could anybody provided me with suggested settings (both camera and flash) for such a shot? Also, should the flash be off the camers to reduce harshness and avoid redeye? Any suggetions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
  2. I would recommend reading David Hobby's (aka, The Strobist, http://strobist.blogspot.com) post on a two-speedlight solution for an indoor portrait:
    Depending on whether you have control over the gym lighting, you may need color correcting gels to match the color of the flash light to the ambient light (fluorescent?).
    Off camera flash for sure. Use your D300 Commander mode for triggering an SB800 (in Remote mode).
    Will some people have glasses? Try to get them all on one side and angled away from the flash.
    I really recommend reading The Strobist.
  3. Do you have any white walls in the room where the shot is to be taken? If not, then I suggest that you either acquire a stand with an umbrella + shoe flash mount and position that to one side of the group a bit above the heads of the subjects so that the light from the (large, reflecting) umbrella comes down in a 45 degree angle. You can then set up the SB-800 as a CLS remote and use the built-in flash in your camera as a controller and provide a bit of fill. I would set the umbrella flash about 1-2 stops brighter than the pop-up. If you want to improve lighting further, you can set of a separate remote flash for fill on the other side and use the pop-up on the camera as controller only. The group you're photographing is large enough that ideally you would use something like a lighting setup commonly used for school group shots but this would be quite expensive. You can however get an acceptable result with just one remote flash with umbrella and the pop-up, I think.
    If the room has white walls and a white ceiling, an even lighting is dramatically easier to achieve by bouncing the light from your flash from the white surfaces of the room, but gyms typically have colored surfaces which can be disastrous for color accuracy.
    If you go for the remote with umbrella as key light + pop-up as fill approach, I would just set the remote at 1/8 (manual mode), pop up at 1/4 or 1/8 (also manual). Ambient exposure 1/250s and f/8, ISO 400. Take a test shot and adjust based on it. Have fun!
  4. Do a bit of reading, the Nikon CLS system is an easy way to get a decent exposure, but the key thing is where to place the flash(es) and how to diffuse them. Two flashes and umbrellas on lightstands would probably be the easiest way to get a good vanilla lighting. You should aim for overpowering any artificial lighting by having enough flash and it needs to be diffused enough so that subjects look good.
  5. I'm only a novice at this myself but I doubt that a single SB800 with an umbrella will have enough power to light 20 people. I've used this setup for head and shoulder portraits and it's OK for that. I think at best the hot shoe flash could provide a little fill to the shadows. Color balance will also be a big issue with gym lights are previously mentioned. Perhaps you can get them to shoot outside instead.
  6. I too doubt an SB-800 will be able to light 20 people, especially if using an umbrella. I think you have entered monolight land.
    Kent in SD
  7. Get them to do it outside, try thinking of some abstract place and do it there, then you have nothing to worry about. Have a practice with the SB over the next couple of months, read the book and take the next flash job on with confidence..

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