flash questions....

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by scott_foster, Jun 15, 2003.

  1. I will be shooting a my first wedding and have tons of time to
    prepare (about 12 months). The chapel is local, so I will be shooting
    many test rolls, etc. The question is have is about flash
    photography. I will be using a nikon sb28 flash on a n90s body with
    stroboframe flash bracket. I want to have the least harsh light come
    from the flash unit. Is it better to go with an Omnibounce or
    something more like a Lumiquest product to place over the flash head?
    Also, I've heard the Omnibounce comes in a gold version and in
    contrast some of the Lumiquests have gold interiors as well. What is
    the best set-up or does all of this come down to personal preference?
    I liked the idea of the Omnibounce for simplicity or on/off flash and
    it's low cost. But, I really need what will produce the most
    flattering photographs. I will be shooting Fuji NPS or NPH depending
    on meter readings. Also, with either of these products on the flash
    is it best to tilt the head at a 45 degree angle?
  2. Scott,
    It doesn't pertain to the SB-28 specifically, but you might want to keep track of what's going on in this thread.
    Since you have so much time, try to find a local camera store with these flash modifiers in stock, and see if they will let you try them out in the store. If their return policy will allow it, try them out in the actual chapel and bring them back. They might go for this as long as they're sure you intend to buy at least one of them for good.
  3. In my opinion you will be "undergunned" as it is in the flash department, and to add modifiers will make you even more undergunned.

  4. How much 'interior' lighting will be in the church? Good window light or a mixture of overhead fixtures?

    Also, what lens(es) you use will have some impact on the flash setup.
    i.e., a neat 28-80mm kit lens may kill you, but a AF Nikkor 28mm f2.8D lens (for groups) and a AF Nikkor 85mm f1.8D lens will make your solo shots of the bride and groom better.
  5. "least harsh light" also is related to the contrast that you are working with. I shoot a lot of weddings and I always second light them. I have an assistant with my other slaved Quantum T2. It fills in the b/g and lights the subject from the side to take away from the flat front flash. This gives the image a studio look as well as reduces the contrast between f/g and b/g creating a better image. Stay away from those gold inserts or reflectors. You get speculars off them. Your film is balanced at 5500 degrees and so is your flash. The key is in printing, tell the lab you want warm tones. I use diffusion panels over my flashes, but before I had the T2's I used Sunpack 544's. Then I used the Lumiquest blow up diffuser and loved it. I Could easily slide in a -1800 CC gell. And when I was in an event shooting situation, I would use a 80/20 or 70/30 Omni bounce, depending on the heigth of the cellings. About bouncing your flash. It can be a beautifull light, but then It can be a dissaster too. I do it like I would bracket film. For example: when I am shooting the Bridal Cake. I shoot it with available light, then shoot it with both flashes(the second being the key @+1/2) and then both bouncing. This will be three different looks and I then have a choice. Of course it's like shooting pool, you have to be sure you are bouncing at an angle to light your subject. 45 degrees isn't always right. Film types? Man, that's all about your personal taste. If you arn't worried about picture size being big, then 800 is great. I get a reading of the ambient light, then set my flashes for as close as I can to that. That way the light seems natural and less harsh.
  6. Are you going to be allowed to shoot flash (except for after-the fact)?

    For speed, I only use one light, but always try to have a film fast enough to pick up the ambient light. (Portra 800 comes in very handy sometimes.) For the ceremony, you'll probably have to use a fast film without flash anyway.

    Diffusers, unless they are very large and very close to the subject, only help by providing additional bounce from nearby surfaces.
  7. Is the Quantum T2 much more powerful than the sb-28?
  8. When I shoot second camera at weddings I use a Canon 1V with 550EX flash on a bracket, stofen Omnibounce with flash head tilited somewhere around 60 degrees (approx.). Film is Fuji NPH, camera set to manual 1/30 @ f2.8-3.5.

    When I am the sole photographer I use a Mamiya 6, Metz 45-CL1 and Fuji NPH. Flash set to f8 w/ head adjusted 2 clicks down from vertical. Camera is set to 1/30 @f3.5. Sometimes I go to 1/15 if necessary.

    This is for shots during the actual ceremony.


    Take lots of test shots and good luck.

  9. You need more flash power available before you can think about diffusing it. The
    diffusor will take 2 stops of real power. My guess is, your unit is a 100ws unit. This
    means you have 25 ws of real power available after you put the diffusor on. You
    really need more power. a Norman 200b or 200c or Lumedyne will furnish this for
    you. Do not use a diffusor for "bounce" rather, point a clear flash to the ceiling, and
    put a white card inback of the reflector. The white card will give you forward diffused
    light, while the ceiling gives you very, very diffused light.

    The gold diffusor is interesting because it could be a quick filter for the use of fill
    flash in an ambient light situation. This means that the flash would have the same
    color temperature as the candelight or floods. But all this can be attained with real
    filters over the unit, anyway.

    The most flattering portraits will require a wide bounce off an umbrella, foamcore, or
    white wall. And if you had two heads, flash units, you could bounce off of two walls,
    or umbrellas, etc. The wider the areas that you bounce off of, the softer will be your
    light, and the fewer the oily reflections on the person's face.

    I use a Norman 200b, perhaps two Normans, with 2 flash heads on a Stroboframe. I
    use white cards on the reflectors. Therefore, I can bounce off of the wall, ceiling and
    light is bounced forward from the cards. This gives me real choices as to softness,
    and choice as to which is the main or fill, all on a portrable unit!

    You are looking a gadgets to save you. You are looking for ease of use. The bottom
    line is, you need wide bounce or diffusion sources.

    One way to start this to happen for you is to use external slave units which do the
    bouncing for you. Vivitar 285 is a good choice. If you had 2 of these, maybe 3, you
    could simply have a guest or assistant point it at an umbrella or bedsheet! The flash
    on your camera could simply be pointed at the ceiling, not at the subject so as to
    trigger your slave unit with its flash bounce.

    You are asking too, too much from your sb28 flash; and too too much from
    Omnibounce's. You really need a set-up like mine or purchase some Vivitar 285's
    used or new with some slave units by Wein. I know this will work well.

    Timber Borcherding timberborcherding
  10. If you are shooting in a dimly lit interior, then the SB-28 is not going to do the trick for you in most cases. I've shot many weddings, and I DO agree that you need a more powerful flash unit to guarantee success. But there are some situations where a bracket mounted flash unit will do just fine for your first wedding or two. So the rest of this response assumes you will be using the SB-28.

    First, if the interior of the building where you'll be shooting is reasonably well lit, you'll be in a much better position. A smaller flash unit like the SB-28 does not have the power to properly expose anything but the subject in the front of your lens. Backgrounds (and folks standing even a foot behind the bride and groom) will go unnaturally dark. A well lit interior will help with some of this. I'd talk to whoever is in charge of the ceremony location, and ask them to turn up the lights after the ceremony. Some locations will have independently controlled lights that can illuminate your backgrounds for you.

    If you are in a dimly lit interior, you can still get nice photos. Learn how to drag your shutter, and you'll see the quality of background exposure improve dramatically. I highly suggest you bring a tripod for this.

    As for diffusers, save them for portrait work. That's where they count the most, and the results are the most noticeable. I'd go with frosted white instead of a gold toned insert (the labs are going to color correct the image anyway and you'll lose some of the effect). You'll want to use them for pictures of the bride and groom - full length portraits, waist up, bust up portraits. I've used the Lumiquest Softbox attached to my flash with outstanding results. No need to tilt the flash or bounce it. Try it out with a Tiffen soft/fx 1 filter for portraits and it will usually result in very pleasing images.

    Forget using a flash diffuser on the SB28 for large groups of people. My advice for shooting groups is to bring a small step ladder to increase your height a little, then shoot straight on or bounce the flash if the cielings are low enough.

    If you have faster lenses, bring them. Even a cheap 50mm f1.7 lens will offer excellent results when pared up to the right film.

    Scott, if you truly are limited to using the SB-28 here are three suggestions to make your photography a success:

    1. Get to the location for some test shooting at the same time of day as the ceremony and bring a friend as a test subject. Ask them to dress in black and white. The white clothing should have some sort of texture. Go in and try shooting with straight flash, bounced flash, diffuser attached, dragging the shutter, etc. Try every combination and write down what you did for each shot. When you get the results, check the white clothing vs. black vs. skin tones, and make sure the film you are using vs. flash exposure is not washing out the details. This type of test is WELL WORTH the 3-4 rolls of film you will use. Try this test with Fuji NPH rated at 250, and NPZ rated at 625. The NPZ is an 800 film that will expose beautifully in low light situations. There are the Kodak portra equivelents as well.

    2. See if you can't get the bride and groom outside for some outdoor shooting. This will usually save the day if the church interior does not offer good lighting. I usually try to bring my clients to a park location or the beach. Drive around the ceremony location and also the route from the ceremony to the reception to find something, even a small park with shade trees will work. Then try to get the bride to agree to 20 minutes of shooting at this location.

    3. Get ahold of a backup flash unit (borrow or rent it). If your SB-28 fails, you are up the creek.

    If you are going to do more weddings down the road, then you will have to make the investment in more powerful flash equipment, and perhaps a lighting kit as you progress. Even buying a couple of Nikon flash units and setting them up to trigger wirelessly (i.e., one to ligh up the background, one mounted on a pole, etc) will work wonders. But are you really willing to spend the dollars on that type of investment for just one wedding?

    As a side note, I shoot my weddings with Nikon SB-80DX flash units. We are now adding wireless transmitters to trigger Vivitar or Sunpak flash units place on the floor behind the bride and groom to illuminate the backgrounds, or pole/tripod mounted. It's an inexpensive and light-weight solution that works very well.


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