Street Parade and Flash

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by chinoloco93, Mar 2, 2007.

  1. I am going to San Francisco Chinatown tomorrow. I have bleacher seats for the
    Chinese New Year Parade and will be taking my new toys with me (24-70mm f/2.8
    and 70-200 F/2.8 IS) My question is since I will be in the bleachers and it
    will be dark out (parade starts at 5:30 I think), i plan on using my 580 EX
    Flash. My question is should I get a Stofen Omni Bounce and aim 45 degrees up
    at the parade for a softer effect or should I try to go straight on flash so I
    can get enough power? I am not sure how far back the bleachers will be since
    its the first time we bought tickets on the bleachers. Any suggestions and
    recommendations will help. I think since there is no ceiling to "bounce" off
    on, the stofen is the only way to get a softer light with a flash.

  2. There is no way that you can make flash softer at those kinds of distances, and using a diffuser will simply cost you flash output. Presumably the parade will be floodlit (doesn't seem much point if it's too dark for anyone to see the costumes), so you would have the additional problem of a clash between the "daylight" colour temperature of the flash and the probably tungsten based lighting (which may be supplemented by coloured spots anyway). Just be prepared to crank your ISO high enough to get the shutter speed you need, and forget the flash altogether - you'd have to use high ISO to give it reach anyway.
  3. If you don't mind my saying so, you don't quite understand how the Stofen works -- you say there's no ceiling to bounce off of (true), but the Stofen works by bouncing. It bounces off of walls and ceiling, creating a "softer" light because the source is all spread out. The fact that the light is passing through the frosted plastic does not "soften" it, it's the multiple sources (walls and ceiling) of light that falls on the subject that softens the light.

    Outside, even if you crank up a high-powered flash, you're still not getting any "softening" of the light since your light source is the flash -- still a point source of light, even with the Stofen.

    Don't get me wrong, I love the Stofen, it's great in the right conditions. But it's a common misperception that the frosted plastic somehow "softens" the light, and that just isn't so, a point source of light is a point source of light. It's the bouncing that works.
  4. I haven't photographed that parade, but I wonder if foregoing the flash and relying on the f/
    2.8 aperture (and perhaps a monopod or tripod) might get some shots that capture the mood
    of that time of day?

    Enjoy that parade!
  5. Matt,
    My understanding of the stofen was your point where you still need a ceiling to bounce, but simple minded thinking led me to wonder if you add a translucent layer, you can reduce some of the light and perhaps get a softer effect (kinda like a "on flash" softbox). I guess not because the size is still too small. I never tried it but of course, many things in the world can be used in manners they were not meant to be and get interesting effects. Kinda like the coffee filter and the custom white balance thing. I was really thinking out loud, planning the shoot at 2:00AM and you never know the thoughts you get in the middle of the night.

    Since I have the IS, I am going to try a combo of Handheld and tripod/monopod depending on how much room I have to manuver, since it will be crowded. I will shoot at 800 ISO or maybe 1600 ISO. I will try the 800 and hope its fast enough because I want to reduce noise as much as possible.

    MarkU, I am sure there will be floodlights but I don't know yet where our bleacher seats are and exactly how much flood lights there will be at the time where we sit. It could be many or it might be a little darker in that area. I know just from watching it on TV, its not evenly lighted everywhere.

    Thanks for the comments, your comments help me think this through and I am a little more prepared for this event now.
  6. you might still need the flash for backlighted motives or to just give that little sparkle in the eye.
  7. Or you can just take it all and play with your new toys.
  8. James - set your exposure on say a well flood lit face and you will be suprised that you can probably shoot at a reasonable speed and iso setting.
    You do not need the entire scene to be well lit, just the bits that count. Treat the subject as a stage show. Set you exposure for a main subject filling the frame then keep that setting and on manual when you zoom back out.

    Otherwise you do risk blowing out your highlights which will probably be the main subject. You will still need a reasonable shutter speed. The IS may cure your lens shake but it will not stop the parade moving.

    Sometimes there is not enough light to take photos, so you may need to use your flash if you want a record shot. Take your flash along if you can.

    Simply crank up the iso direct flash on full power and hope for the best! Experiment though because the lower the iso you can shoot at the better your images will appear.

    RAW may give you a couple of extra stops too.

    If it gets too much then shoot for motion blur.
    iso 200, 1/4 seconds (IS definitely on)
    Then maybe some rear curtain synch too. As the Dragon moves by with a blast of rear curtain flash may come out realy good.
  9. James,

    You can soften the light by making the source larger. This is what a softbox does. The Stofen is the same size as the flash head. A small softbox like the LumiQuest can help but only if you are very close to your subject.

    I suspect that you will be able to shoot with a high ISO and the lenses wide open.

    Having said that a 580EX is a surprisingly powerful beast and you may well be able to use it for fill light. I would recommend gelling it with a CTO or CTS gel (orange or straw) and shooting with Tungsten WB (of course I recommend you shoot RAW too).

    Take it along. I wouldn't be without a flash.
  10. Thanks to everyone who commented. I went and got a monopod for this shoot and completely did not use it. I snapped about 500-600 shots and probably got about 200-250 good ones. Since things were moving around alot and sometimes the banners blocked the floodlights, I gave up shooting manual about 50% in the parade and let the body determine the shutter speed for me. it was hard as I was trying to use the camera's metering and it was bouncing all over the place as the lighting kept on changing. I did about 30% of the parade with flash and the rest with the flash off. I noticed the flash filled in sometimes but as the lions and dragons were running around, sometimes I got blown out shots and others, the flash was not powerful enough.

    I wish I had a second body. That would have made the difference for me more then anything. I stuck with the 70-200mm for most of the night. It provided details and up close shots or I was able to zoom down the street a little and got more predictable lighting. Once they got closer, the lighting changed too fast due to shadows and stuff blocking the floodlights. I still wish I could have gotten some of the wider shots of the dragons running around. I stuck to F/2.8 all night and that god for the IS. I was still able to capture at 1/30 or 1/60 of a second handheld at 200mm. I am working on some basic post processing and will have them up next week on my page. Thanks to everyone who responded.

Share This Page