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DPChallenge Forums >> Tips, Tricks, and Q&A >> Multiple strobe portrait advice
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05/24/2010 10:01:06 PM · #1
Hello...

Seems I keep getting good advice from this site. I'll have to sign back up and pay soon! Others sites have slow, slow advice !

Need some help positioning my sb800 and sb600 for portraits.

Can you check the link here and critique my use of the flash / multi-flash in some cases?
Do umbrellas/reflectors/diffusers have a huge impact on portraits? Would it have helped me here?

On the first shot on Flickr, you will see a more detailed question.

Edit: I had some cash sitting in Paypal and decided to jump in again. Here are a few. Please critique on lighting in any way you can !

Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_885576.jpg Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_885578.jpg Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_885579.jpg

Photos

Thanks for your input.

Message edited by author 2010-05-24 23:12:50.
05/24/2010 11:52:38 PM · #2
Cool!

First, I think getting a couple of convertible umbrellas (converts from shoot thru to reflective--lastolite makes an all in one (silver reflector, white reflector, white shoot thru) that is a bit pricier (but not by much) and if you have the patience to change "skins" it gives you the most options. I think you will be very pleased with the results from an umbrella. There are less pricey convertible umbrellas that switch between white reflective and white shoot thru, and those would serve you well for portraits, too.

As you are probably noticing, straight undiffused speedlights give a slightly harsh light (pronounced shadows). Absent any umbrellas, you could bounce the speedlights off of a white foam core, wall, or sheet.

In the first shot, it appears that your speedlight is level with her head, and off to the side some. You might try raising it up (think mid to late afternoon sun angles) and see how you like that. Horizontal (or nearly horizontal) lighting is less natural feeling, so depending on what look you are after, it may or may not work out the way you want.

In general, though, I doubt you will ever regret the purchase of one or two umbrellas--possibly the best bang for the buck lighting modifier you will ever buy (except for maybe a 5 in 1 reflector)

Also an option: Westcott Collapsible umbrellas -- these are sort of like the more compact rain umbrellas, so they are more portable/packable in case that is of use. I have the lastolite and these westcotts, as well as a smaller diameter shootthru that I can handhold with a speedlight easily. I basically never shoot the speedlights unmodified.
05/25/2010 12:04:06 AM · #3
LOL...you called it right. One of those strobes was exactly level with her face! I didn't have a tripod for that one so I put it on a bookcase at head level.

I've been looking at flickr and here and it really does look like the way to go is some sort of umbrella or other diffuser.

The sunroom that I use is good but the celing is brown. Lots of good light in the daytime. However, in late afternoon into the night you get no reflected light from the windows or celing so the quality goes down with unaided strobes !

I'll keep posting as I go along.

Originally posted by chromeydome:

Cool!

First, I think getting a couple of convertible umbrellas (converts from shoot thru to reflective--lastolite makes an all in one (silver reflector, white reflector, white shoot thru) that is a bit pricier (but not by much) and if you have the patience to change "skins" it gives you the most options. I think you will be very pleased with the results from an umbrella. There are less pricey convertible umbrellas that switch between white reflective and white shoot thru, and those would serve you well for portraits, too.

As you are probably noticing, straight undiffused speedlights give a slightly harsh light (pronounced shadows). Absent any umbrellas, you could bounce the speedlights off of a white foam core, wall, or sheet.

In the first shot, it appears that your speedlight is level with her head, and off to the side some. You might try raising it up (think mid to late afternoon sun angles) and see how you like that. Horizontal (or nearly horizontal) lighting is less natural feeling, so depending on what look you are after, it may or may not work out the way you want.

In general, though, I doubt you will ever regret the purchase of one or two umbrellas--possibly the best bang for the buck lighting modifier you will ever buy (except for maybe a 5 in 1 reflector)

Also an option: Westcott Collapsible umbrellas -- these are sort of like the more compact rain umbrellas, so they are more portable/packable in case that is of use. I have the lastolite and these westcotts, as well as a smaller diameter shootthru that I can handhold with a speedlight easily. I basically never shoot the speedlights unmodified.
05/25/2010 12:15:54 AM · #4
well, the "opportunities" to spend more money never end in photography, do they?

Umbrellas with speedlights require a shoe mount device. that usually mounts best, in turn, to a light stand. These are not that expensive, but they all add up. Inexpensive light stands are fine, but consider the max height: some of them are 7 or 8 feet, which may not be enough when shooting a 6 ft tall person. A heavy duty version of a gorilla pod can let you place speedlights in unusual places sometimes, too. I get twitchy putting my speedlights on them as a regular thing, though. With the light stand, I opted for non-air cushioned on one, but feel much more comfortable with the air cushioned versions I have: one time of "I locked it in place" only to find it was "not tight enough" and a nice sharp jolting SLAM as the stand retracts and you light takes a nice shock would make you a believer. Fortunately, when it happened to me, I was using one of my cushioned ones, so it saved me the actual damage, other than to my nerves. My non-cushioned stand is now for reflectors, backdrops and other Not Pricey Delicate Electronics.
05/25/2010 07:28:45 AM · #5
air cushioned? How does that work?

Originally posted by chromeydome:

well, the "opportunities" to spend more money never end in photography, do they?

Umbrellas with speedlights require a shoe mount device. that usually mounts best, in turn, to a light stand. These are not that expensive, but they all add up. Inexpensive light stands are fine, but consider the max height: some of them are 7 or 8 feet, which may not be enough when shooting a 6 ft tall person. A heavy duty version of a gorilla pod can let you place speedlights in unusual places sometimes, too. I get twitchy putting my speedlights on them as a regular thing, though. With the light stand, I opted for non-air cushioned on one, but feel much more comfortable with the air cushioned versions I have: one time of "I locked it in place" only to find it was "not tight enough" and a nice sharp jolting SLAM as the stand retracts and you light takes a nice shock would make you a believer. Fortunately, when it happened to me, I was using one of my cushioned ones, so it saved me the actual damage, other than to my nerves. My non-cushioned stand is now for reflectors, backdrops and other Not Pricey Delicate Electronics.
05/25/2010 08:16:47 AM · #6
If you're shooting using speedlights, you MUST read EVERYTHING on this site: Strobist

It is the definitive site for all strobe information. Just by going through the Lighting 101 tutorials you'll have covered all the techniques and equipment you need for successful off-camera speedlight shooting.

If you have more questions after that, you probably missed a page or two ;-) (but don't hesitate to come back and ask more questions here - DPC peeps are always helpful)

PS. Air cushioned stands basically have little air seals on each of the sections so that as each section of the stand closes up, the air is pushed out slowly, forming a cushion from the trapped pocket of air, so that the section collapses down slowly to prevent damage to your lights if you forget to lock the section in place (a non-air cushioned section will just collapse down with a thud as chromey mentioned)

Message edited by author 2010-05-25 08:17:28.
05/25/2010 08:36:16 AM · #7
Originally posted by Tygerr:

If you're shooting using speedlights, you MUST read EVERYTHING on this site: Strobist

It is the definitive site for all strobe information. Just by going through the Lighting 101 tutorials you'll have covered all the techniques and equipment you need for successful off-camera speedlight shooting.

If you have more questions after that, you probably missed a page or two ;-) (but don't hesitate to come back and ask more questions here - DPC peeps are always helpful)

PS. Air cushioned stands basically have little air seals on each of the sections so that as each section of the stand closes up, the air is pushed out slowly, forming a cushion from the trapped pocket of air, so that the section collapses down slowly to prevent damage to your lights if you forget to lock the section in place (a non-air cushioned section will just collapse down with a thud as chromey mentioned)


Tyron's got a great point in directing you to Strobist. Most of the questions you've posed to us stem directly from stuff Hobby covers in his posts. I'm pretty sure either I or somebody else has posted it in the other threads, but it really is worthwhile to go through the exercises. Since you're using Nikon and CLS, you might be interested in Joe Mcnally's The Hotshoe Diaries. The book is good for lighting for anybody, really, but especially for Nikon CLS users.
As a sidenote, I use those 43" Westcott umbrellas, so anywhere you see me mention an umbrella in my info they're what's being used. I also use the Orbis Ringflash and quite like the results for macro and portraiture as an on axis fill, so that's another technique you might consider (though that Orbis is pricey... most expensive piece of plastic I've ever owned... but I do love it).
05/25/2010 10:05:23 AM · #8
Looks like the strobist site is the place to be.

I have two daughters and two poodles to practice on. Father's Day is coming up....I may ask for an umbrella.

Thanks all for the info. I have a few ideas for the peanut challenge that I feel my two lights (three if you count onboard)will be a big help in the setup. Should get me a 6+ for sure...LOL...
05/25/2010 10:12:29 PM · #9
Ok...looking into some umbrellas/stands to use with my SB800 and SB600. This would be used indoors and outdoors. I would like to get from BHCameraVideo.

Does anyone have any advice? White, Silver, Translucent ?

Thanks
05/25/2010 10:20:54 PM · #10
I have all, and seldom use the silver. A convertible white umbrella (has a black outer cover that comes off for shoot thru, stays on for reflective) is a good way to start, imo. And, again, if you are up for it, that lastolite all in one umbrella will go silver, too. One of those, one convertible and you should have lots of options.
05/25/2010 10:26:33 PM · #11
Yes...I am looking at the lastolite that you posted. I have the SB800 and SB600. What stand/bracket do I need in order to use those umbrellas? My lights have an "adapter" shoe that you slip on and can mount on a tripod or stand the flash on a table...(does this info help)?

Thanks

Originally posted by chromeydome:

I have all, and seldom use the silver. A convertible white umbrella (has a black outer cover that comes off for shoot thru, stays on for reflective) is a good way to start, imo. And, again, if you are up for it, that lastolite all in one umbrella will go silver, too. One of those, one convertible and you should have lots of options.
05/25/2010 10:29:41 PM · #12
Originally posted by kenskid:

Ok...looking into some umbrellas/stands to use with my SB800 and SB600. This would be used indoors and outdoors. I would like to get from BHCameraVideo.

Does anyone have any advice? White, Silver, Translucent ?

Thanks


Those ones 21.gif chromeydome noted will provide you with a good flexible option that you can shootthrough or bounce out of. The lastolite one has the option of a silver as well, which will increase the relative intensity and prominence of specular highlights and harden your shadows a bit. I've got the westcotts with the removable black and like them well enough. Very portable. Those lastolites do look nice though.
05/25/2010 10:35:41 PM · #13
Yes..Ive looked at that umbrella also. On the stand/bracket question...are the umbrella stands pretty much standard? Will my SB800/600 slip right on? Is this what is known as a shoemount? Or...is there anything else I need to know?

Originally posted by spiritualspatula:

Originally posted by kenskid:

Ok...looking into some umbrellas/stands to use with my SB800 and SB600. This would be used indoors and outdoors. I would like to get from BHCameraVideo.

Does anyone have any advice? White, Silver, Translucent ?

Thanks


Those ones 21.gif chromeydome noted will provide you with a good flexible option that you can shootthrough or bounce out of. The lastolite one has the option of a silver as well, which will increase the relative intensity and prominence of specular highlights and harden your shadows a bit. I've got the westcotts with the removable black and like them well enough. Very portable. Those lastolites do look nice though.
05/25/2010 10:45:37 PM · #14
You'll need something like this to mount the speedlights/umbrellas to the stands. There are lots of manufacturers so you can check around for the best deals, best versions. B&H will have them, too, and you could probably find some at a Kits Cameras or other local camera store--the advantage there is you can get a look at them, see how sturdy they are, etc. There are versions of this with a threaded stud on top that will accept your "adapter shoe" foot thing, and I tried that myself: I didn't feel that the speedlight locked into that foot well enough, so I prefer a shoe mount that itself has a threaded tightening mechanism. But that's just me.

Use of umbrella's on stands outside can be tricky--breezes will not be your friend!
05/25/2010 10:59:19 PM · #15
Ahhh...now I see. So that hooks to a stand and flash and umbrella attach to that. Looks easy enough.

Oh...never thought about the wind. Of course a strong wind will topple anything but can I brace the bottom of the stand for light wind?

Originally posted by chromeydome:

You'll need something like this to mount the speedlights/umbrellas to the stands. There are lots of manufacturers so you can check around for the best deals, best versions. B&H will have them, too, and you could probably find some at a Kits Cameras or other local camera store--the advantage there is you can get a look at them, see how sturdy they are, etc. There are versions of this with a threaded stud on top that will accept your "adapter shoe" foot thing, and I tried that myself: I didn't feel that the speedlight locked into that foot well enough, so I prefer a shoe mount that itself has a threaded tightening mechanism. But that's just me.

Use of umbrella's on stands outside can be tricky--breezes will not be your friend!
05/25/2010 11:04:08 PM · #16
Originally posted by kenskid:

Ahhh...now I see. So that hooks to a stand and flash and umbrella attach to that. Looks easy enough.

Oh...never thought about the wind. Of course a strong wind will topple anything but can I brace the bottom of the stand for light wind?

Originally posted by chromeydome:

You'll need something like this to mount the speedlights/umbrellas to the stands. There are lots of manufacturers so you can check around for the best deals, best versions. B&H will have them, too, and you could probably find some at a Kits Cameras or other local camera store--the advantage there is you can get a look at them, see how sturdy they are, etc. There are versions of this with a threaded stud on top that will accept your "adapter shoe" foot thing, and I tried that myself: I didn't feel that the speedlight locked into that foot well enough, so I prefer a shoe mount that itself has a threaded tightening mechanism. But that's just me.

Use of umbrella's on stands outside can be tricky--breezes will not be your friend!


Yeah... but you gotta be careful of those umbrellas getting turned inside out too. Wind in general just makes you angry.

Discussion of wind + lightstands @ Strobist.
05/25/2010 11:09:09 PM · #17
I used to fly those remote controlled helicopters too....wind was a killer....now I'm going to be fighting it again....LOL.

Originally posted by spiritualspatula:

Originally posted by kenskid:

Ahhh...now I see. So that hooks to a stand and flash and umbrella attach to that. Looks easy enough.

Oh...never thought about the wind. Of course a strong wind will topple anything but can I brace the bottom of the stand for light wind?

Originally posted by chromeydome:

You'll need something like this to mount the speedlights/umbrellas to the stands. There are lots of manufacturers so you can check around for the best deals, best versions. B&H will have them, too, and you could probably find some at a Kits Cameras or other local camera store--the advantage there is you can get a look at them, see how sturdy they are, etc. There are versions of this with a threaded stud on top that will accept your "adapter shoe" foot thing, and I tried that myself: I didn't feel that the speedlight locked into that foot well enough, so I prefer a shoe mount that itself has a threaded tightening mechanism. But that's just me.

Use of umbrella's on stands outside can be tricky--breezes will not be your friend!


Yeah... but you gotta be careful of those umbrellas getting turned inside out too. Wind in general just makes you angry.

Discussion of wind + lightstands @ Strobist.
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