Is a flash bracket really "old hat"?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by blanston, Feb 16, 2010.

  1. I use an RRS flash bracket along with a Quantum setup for portions of receptions and sometimes if it is a sit-down dinner afterwards, but this Flickr thread ( featured some disparaging remarks about brackets, so I would be interested in your thoughts and practices.

    (The reason I sometimes use a bracket is because frequently the receptions are held in rooms with very tall ceilings, and I can't control peoples' proximity to suitable walls for bouncing. I have tried a number of card-bounce type flash apparatuses, with marginal success.)
  2. There was another thread recently about flash brackets. Try a search and I'm sure you'll find it.
    I don't think you should care what anyone thinks. If a bracket works for you then why not use it?
  3. I've always wanted to try one but never did. I have an off shoe cord thingy though.
  4. I used one for years, but as the proliferation of diffusers and off cam flash has come along, the brackets have become less favored for me. I currently only miss using one in churches with very high ceilings and no where to bounce from. Even then, with the carful use of balanced flash and a higher SS, it works well. These later cameras that allow easily shooting at 1600 - 3200 iso make it very doable IMO.
    The note you make about the reason you still use one sometimes would be my only reason to keep using one. The thing is, I cannot get a system that works well to keep the cam body stable on the bracket (not twisting all day) and tight versus sloppy fitting in the QR bracket. Also, one that allows for a good QR system, and does not add 2lbs to everything. I don't like those the put my shutter release on the bottom for verticals either.
    I still have a couple Stroboframe Pro-T's and a couple older ones along with the QR plates et al.
  5. My biggest issue using a flash attached to the top of a camera is redeye. Moving that flash up about 4 inches makes a big difference. Diffusion of shadows is not an issue.
  6. I hate shooting with one, but I would never shoot without one. I'm quite paticular about my brackets, and I tend to only like the horribly heavy ones with the circular-swing motion, not the flip brackets. I don't always like to bounce, and sometimes I want the flash to add fill while using an off camera flash as well. I wouldn't shoot without one, simply because I don't like the look if I don't use one. But I'll forever curse the added weight and shoulder strain.
  7. After browsing through the Flickr thread, I would ask "Who are these people?" Are there a bunch of pros hanging on Flickr?
    There are a number of reasons to continue using a bracket these days. They are really most of the same reasons that they were used in the past: First, getting the flash higher does more than emliminate red-eye. It also helps to push shadows lower behind the subject and keep them out of view. When shooting vertically (as the vast majority of wedding/portrait images are) a bracket also helps keep the shadow of one subject from falling on the face of another. Second, even if I not always using flash, this keeps the flash handy for when it is needed. Yes, I could keep it on the hot shoe and turn it off and on, but: Three, the bracket also holds the transmitter for my radio slave. Four, and this is the biggest reason for me, it gives me a few other ways to hold the camera while I am not actually taking pictures. I used to end up with a very sore and tired right elbow. Letting the camera dangle in my right hand and bringing up to my face to shoot hurt my elbow! The bracket that I use lets me easily hold the camera with either hand.
    To also ad a note: Just because there is a flash on a bracket does not mean that the photographer is "blasting" the subject with light from the flash. My best out door images are taken when I work with the sunlight and shade to get the best lighting possible and THEN add a little flash to open shadows and make sure that there is light in the eyes. One of the problems that regularly comes up for a professional photographer is that we have to be able to make great images at any time. We don't get to schedule our wedding portrait sessions for early morning or late afternoon. If the couple schedules a 1PM ceremony, we are working outside at 3PM. The bride doesn't want to look at her images and say, "Well, the light wasn't perfect . . . " Having all of the tools helps us to do that.
  8. I prefer a bracket for most on camera flash use. I also still use some big flashes like Lumedynes which need a bracket. For the small shoe flashes it will depend on the assignment. Really a personal choice but I think certainly not passe.
  9. So you asked a similar question in 2001, but have kept using brackets? I'd say if it works for you, why question it?
    Anyway, I use a bracket when it matters, and not when it doesn't. I have lots of different brackets. Mostly, I don't use a bracket and bounce my flash all over. We didn't have that luxury in the past since we were stuck with lower ISOs so bouncing all over was difficult, plus you couldn't fine tune the bounce (not being able to see the results instantly). Perhaps you should investigate and practice wall bounce instead of ceiling bounce (or a combination). I find that if you use a card (which I do sometimes) you will still get shadows next to walls. If you bounce off the wall behind or to the side of you, the shadows are diffuse enough to not be alarming. Plus, if you are dragging the shutter, you don't have the harsh look of flash only.
    When I use a bracket, I am now using a Siegelite Stratos 10 inch post flip bracket backwards on the camera, so the standard is to camera right and flips to the right. I also have a Custom Brackets QRS-EV, which flips the camera. I still like it very much and would use it if I know I'd be in a situation all day where I wanted to place the flash above the camera. The reason I use the Stratos now is because I am mostly attaching the bracket only when I am using the flash direct and want that height over the lens for verticals--mostly where shadows might show. Outside, for fill, shadows often don't show, so it doesn't matter whether the flash is high over the lens. Even with the bracket on, I can still bounce the flash.
    On Sunday, I photographed a wedding on a boat, where the ceilings are very low. I used a bracket during the day and took it off at night. During the day, for formals, the way the boat interior is constructed, a bracket is a must. The exterior is bright sunlight, the boat has wraparound windows (no bounce plus flash back), the formals had to be at that spot, the ceiling is goldish flecked mirrors (no bounce) and the boat interior is very cramped. One also could not set up an off camera light at all, since there is simply no space plus the boat takes off from the dock right after the ceremony-so you are moving. And, use of a bounce card was out because of the bright exterior--the flash does not have enough power to project enough light to balance, although halfway through the formals, I switched from direct to a bounce card as the light outside faded a bit. Oh--and sometimes, splashes of sunlight hit the subjects, since we are moving, not to mention we are in a terrific rush to get the formals done--a boat wedding is a pretty short affair--and to get the sunset image.
    Most of the time, the situation isn't quite as extreme, and some other method can be devised to avoid the bracket. I see no reason to go either one way or another--why not use what makes sense for the way you want your images to look? I personally don't care one bit whether I look old school or whatever--that should be the least of your concerns.
  10. Another bracket user here. Very big churches. I like how my stroboframe kicks my flash a good foot in the air and it keeps it there for rotating shots.
    I think the braket has fallen by the wayside in recent years more out of laziness to pack it and lug it around than anything else (just like the tripod).
  11. I think the braket has fallen by the wayside in recent years more out of laziness to pack it and lug it around than anything else (just like the tripod).​
    that and the fact that there are cameras at higher isos making flash use less necessary in most places..
    but it is not laziness, its the fact the thing is so darn heavy and i already lug too many lenses around :)
  12. I still use a flash bracket, and I am anything but an old school photographer (just turned 26 today, always shot digital). I use a Custom Brackets QR35, with quick release on the camera, and a quick release tripod mount. I also use the bracket for studio shooting, since it keeps the lens in the same spot for portrait and landscape shots, which I find much preferable to rotating the tripod head.
    I will say, my rig is extremely heavy. It consists of a Qflash, 5D with battery grip+24-70, and sometimes I clamp the battery to the bracket too, so I can set the whole thing down while I grab some shots with the 70-200.
    If I'm shooting in a venue with a white ceiling, I will often just throw the Qflash on a straight bracket, which is a bit more manageable than the big camera rotating bracket.
    On the original thread, he was talking about senior portrait shooters using brackets. For portraits, I almost always use a flash on a light stand, and not the bracket. If I'm shooting a wedding with an assistant, I will often do that instead, as well. But I would reject the notion that flash brackets are outdated-they can still be very helpful tools, in certain situations.
  13. but it is not laziness, its the fact the thing is so darn heavy and i already lug too many lenses around :)
    I feel your pain. Thanks to ebay I finally got things down to a small truckload.
  14. Too heavy??? So 15.4 ounces for a bracket is "just so darn heavy"......pleeeeease.
  15. Too heavy??? So 15.4 ounces for a bracket is "just so darn heavy"......pleeeeease.​
    David, holding up an extra pound to your eye for 6 hours does take it's toll. You are indeed a better man than I.
  16. Back in the film days I added 26 more ounces for the Quatum 1+ battery that was also attached to the bracket. Today, shooting is pretty easy however at my age the standing, walking, squatting etc... does take it's toll at the 10-12 hour weddings.
  17. I have to agree with David--I have very little sympathy for wedding photographers now :^). I used to carry a medium format camera on a heavy bracket with a heavy flash and trigger, a heavy battery pack, and a heavy shoulder bag to carry the larger medium format lenses, all day long. Sometimes I had a 35mm SLR on my other shoulder. My shoulders and forearms (not to mention back) used to ache when I got home and through the next day. Now, all that ache are my feet--that part didn't change.
  18. "So you asked a similar question in 2001, but have kept using brackets? I'd say if it works for you, why question it?"

    (Here is the post Ms. Nadine references from 2001, where I "ask a similar question":

    Again, I use a bracket in situations where using a bracket results in better images than not using one. I was as interested in the group's reactions to the Flickr thread as much as the feedback. (Is there a way to turn off responses from salty mods?)
  19. Just realized that the most interesting & useful response was from a 26-year old (A. Davis). Just an observation. :?)
  20. There is no salt in my comment, Robert. There is no hidden meaning or negative intent in my question to you. David Schilling's post above references your old thread--I did not dig it up. If you perceived my post as negative, I'm sorry. I was trying to be helpful. My comments about the weight are tongue in cheek.
    As usual, I just answered the question(s)--you asked for "your thoughts and practices". If you wish to make it important that the most useful post comes from a young person, that is your prerogative.
  21. Robert, this question pops up frequently and a quick search will give you several threads on the subject. It generally divides up in to three camps, those who always use them, those who never use them, and those who will use or not use depending on circumstances......
    Indeed, I referenced your old post on the same topic in my response above. I've never witnessed Nadine get "salty" but I've had my moments. The most comprehensive response to your posted question in this thread was supplied by Nadine. If the matter is truly important to you, I would still suggest a search of the other recent threads.
  22. Off topic, but I have observed that some mods exhibit the very behavior that moderators generally try to police, e.g, overposting & even bullying, on occasion. Frequent contributors can be a good thing, but isn't "moderation" the root of "moderator"?
  23. Slightly off-topic, I must jump in here and say Nadine is arguably the least "salty" of any of our venerable mods. In fact, she's anything BUT salty :) And I agree with DS, her comments have been the most comprehensive, as they often are elsewhere in the annals of ...
    <p>Ok, back on topic, whether old hat or not, I have never had desire for one (doesn't suit my style), nor do I plan to get a flash bracket. I use Demb's Flash Diffuser Pro and find that they and totally meet my needs and often surpass my expectations.
  24. Back to the question - For outdoor work I usually don't use one, but at the receptions, church, and temple work I almost always use a bracket. I'm using the Quantum trio without a bracket, the T5DR with a bracket, and they sit high enough above the camera that red eye is not an issue. We all have reasons for using a bracket or not. I hate shadows often casted by on camera flash units, so brackets come in handy, simply a tool, such as a tripod, a camera, lenses, or photoshop. Whatever makes you the best photographer you can be.

    A. Davis - Happy Birthday!
  25. Also, a person that shoots 2000, 4000, and even 8000 images per wedding a bracket would surely slow you down. I really admire these photographers that can shoot like this.
  26. I have also found that I can use my QFlash Trio without a bracket so long as I have the wide-angle dome diffuser fitted and have the flash adjusted at a 45-degree angle.
  27. Robert, the Trio will work fine in most cases, but it does cause hard shadows in the vertical position; this is why I use the T5DR on a bracket. It totally takes away this problem. I also use the dome you are referring to.
  28. Bob, unless that photographer is "bracketing" while using his bracket, there's no way I can understand 2000-4000 shots at a wedding. The guy getting 8000 might as well just switch to video.
  29. Bob B. hit the nail on the head
  30. Jeff, Welcome to P-net. You can add your website URL to your member page. Forum rules don't allow website URL's as a signature to posts.. BTW, enjoyed a quick visit to your website. If you'd like, you can also email the forum moderator and they can add Chicago to your user-name.
  31. I agree with Ed Farmer, above. Plus, doesn't one need a flash bracket for Macro shots? I woudn't be without one for that reason alone. I also use mine for the reasons Ed Farmer mentioned, red-eye, better light coverage, etc, during common events like birthdays,etc., unless you want to just simply hold the flash up with your hand and fire it as a slave to your on-camera flash or remote. Certainly you wouldn't want to carry around a separate light pole for every single event yet it is almost always best to get your flash off the hotshoe if possible. That's where a bracket comes in.
  32. I use a camera flip flash bracket for a lot of shooting but, have been using it less since I began using a Joe Demb Flash Difuser Pro ( ). In very informal and totally unscientific tests, I have deduced that the improvement from using my 550EX or 420EX flashes with the Flash Diffuser Pro; with and without a bracket is not as great as when using a flash with either other diffusers or with no diffuser.
  33. "Too heavy??? So 15.4 ounces for a bracket is "just so darn heavy"......pleeeeease."
    I agree with this and Nadine's following comment. Going back 20 years I recall lugging around medium format with a big potato masher and battery pack, a bag with a few heavy lenses and film backs. Then I now read where people don't like camera grips (or Pro-model Nikons or Canons) because of too much weight. My mind just flashed back to when my parents would tell me of their 10 mile walk to school in the snow and getting a nickel allowance.
  34. I like my RRS bracket a lot but am also a Stroboframe fan. I always use it for events when I want too do my best work. I skip it for more casual use. I like the results better with the bracket a bit more. It is more cumbersome, but when I want to make sure that I do my absolute best work for an event, I always use it. And I always use it with my big Quantum flash...
  35. As regards a heavy setup, I consider it a plus, as I am glad to get the exercise! (I take stairs, walk up escalators, and park far away for the same reasons.)
  36. Mark,
    Thanks for the kudos! The end of the discussion here should revolved around the idea that anyone who says "You always need a bracket." or "You never need a bracket." is wrong. It is interesting that I don't remember reading anyone who said, "Not using a bracket makes for better images." By having a bracket, I always have one available.
  37. With a rotating bracket like Custom Brackets, you can use your on camera flash any possible way you like, whether you bounce or not. So for me it is THE tool I still use. And my PW is mounted on it too. A little heavier than without but when you're use to shoot with 2 EOS 1 bodies and heavy L lenses it adds little weight to your already heavy gear.
  38. One more piece to lug around, another electrical connection.
    I have also stopped flipping the camera to "portrait." I just back up and shoot and crop the vertical out of the whole frame. Those would be 4x6's anyway. Plenty of pixels.

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