Lighting an active little guy

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by hidesert, May 23, 2011.

  1. hidesert

    hidesert Member

    Messages:
    67
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2010
    Location:
    Olympia, WA
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I'm shooting Tmax 400 in Rolleiflexes. I just got a Sunpak 555. I want to document my little guy (10 months old, crawling, on the verge of walking) in my home. He's in constant motion so focusing is a challenge. Ideally I'd like to be shooting at f/11 which is the appropriate aperature when the Sunpak is set to Auto. The problem is I don't like the dark background - the "Crime Scene Photo" look. When I pivot the flash head to bounce off the walls or ceiling my working aperature drops to f/4 - not good for DOF and tracking the little guy. Next I'm going to try using my SB-800 as an optical slave remote w/diffuser to light up the background.

    Any other tips, ideas?
     
  2. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    7,075
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Location:
    Basin and Range Province
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Bouncing off a wall and ceiling is the right idea. If you take the Sunpack off of auto and crank up all the way it could get you to an 11, or close enough. Gots a flash meter?
     
  3. hidesert

    hidesert Member

    Messages:
    67
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2010
    Location:
    Olympia, WA
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Yeah, I have a Minolta spot meter with a flash setting. I thought I did have the Sunpak on full manual when I tried bouncing but I'll check again tonight.
     
  4. jp498

    jp498 Member

    Messages:
    1,467
    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2009
    Location:
    Owls Head ME
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    That's a good film/camera combination!

    Mount one flash on an umbrella in a fixed location and that's your main light. Use the other one aimed at the ceiling or wall to light the room. Have a long sync cord or wireless sync hooked up to the TLR. I use monolights, mostly so I can have modeling lights and I like cords more than batteries. Your flashes should work fine. I used to have an sb800, but sold it because it was far more features than I needed and I downgraded to an sb24. Lacking cords you could probably use the sb800 as a main light and aim your sunpack up to light the room.

    Then you can move around as needed and the little guy can move around within the area lit by the umbrella. Could be a pretty big area as it's won't fall off too fast with the second flash lighting the room. If you have light energy to spare, you can use a non-reflective/sheer-white umbrella to both light the subject and the room.

    Here's a shot with the main light in the photo; not ideally lit, but for reference. This is with my yashica C tlr at probably f11 or so. The room lighting flash is a little weaker than the main flash as it has to cover a bigger area.

    http://jason.philbrook.us/gallery3/var/resizes/2010/album216/img276.jpg

    Moved camera position about 120 degrees ccw around the table so the flash is to MY right by a couple feet. in the upper left you can see the wall is a little brighter because I have the room-lighting flash just out of the left of the photo.

    http://jason.philbrook.us/gallery3/var/resizes/2010/album216/img277.jpg

    Something to keep the child in place is helpful for focusing/lighting too, just don't let them know you are trying to constrain them.

    http://jason.philbrook.us/gallery3/var/resizes/2010/album183/DSC7609.jpg (digital photo, sheer umbrella, toys keeping the child in place)

    http://jason.philbrook.us/gallery3/var/resizes/2010/album189/img219.jpg (tlr)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 23, 2011
  5. mark

    mark Member

    Messages:
    5,264
    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2003
    Duct tape. Or industrial Velcro. Mom can't get mad at what she does not see. Handles the constant motion. No idea about the lighting though. Should be easier once the booger is immobilized.:laugh:
     
  6. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,378
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2008
    Location:
    florida
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    How about taking him to a park and use available light with fill flash if necessary? It probably will provide a good background as well.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  7. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,266
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Location:
    Rome, Italy
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Questionable answer:
    Buy a second-hand Metz 60 CT1, that's a GN of 60 in metres, 100 ISO, or 120 in metres, 400 ISO. Set if fixed on a background wall; They are not expensive as they don't have any way to be "dedicated" to a camera (early models).
    Use the Rolleiflex with its own flash to lit the baby as usual;
    Find a way to synchronize your flash with the other one with photocells.

    Stupid answer:
    Buy a couple of big and powerful halogen lamps (the normal one, for your living room) or change the room bulbs with more powerful ones; Increase ambient light, that is. If you use B&W, anything will work.
    Use 135;
    Use 35mm;
    Use f/5.6 or so. The background should be subdued but not sadly black. The DoF should be enough for "portrait" (supposing you want the take the entire figure, the environment, the toys, part of the house etc).

    Blasphemous answer:
    Use digital to practice. Revert to your Rolleiflex when you found the right setup.
     
  8. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,957
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    How about shooting a slower shutter speeds to allow more ambient light in the exposure? You'll be able to freeze the little guy with the flash. The background can get blurry, but it won't be dark.
     
  9. polyglot

    polyglot Member

    Messages:
    3,472
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2009
    Location:
    South Austra
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Get a couple of flashes with cheap radio triggers and point them at the ceiling/corners of the room. Adjust their power until you get about f/11. You'll have pretty uniform and natural-looking light all across the room, so just chase the kid and push the button whenever. If shooting B&W, consider a green gel for the flash; it can improve skin tones in some cases. A red filter will make people look like white marble, if that's what you want.

    If you light only the ceiling, the light can be a bit too directional and cause shadows under eyes/chins. I find it best to get about 3/4 of the light (depending on how bright your walls/floors are) on the ceiling and the rest on opposing walls, which will give you a nice ambient fill while still providing very good shading/rendering from subject shape.
     
  10. hidesert

    hidesert Member

    Messages:
    67
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2010
    Location:
    Olympia, WA
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Great idea! In 20 years when he sees the photos he'll have answers to how he got so messed up :blink:
     
  11. hidesert

    hidesert Member

    Messages:
    67
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2010
    Location:
    Olympia, WA
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I've been thinking of try this.
     
  12. hidesert

    hidesert Member

    Messages:
    67
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2010
    Location:
    Olympia, WA
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Got a million park shots already :D
     
  13. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,381
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Montgomery,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    In addition to the radio triggers, There were small optically slaved flash units on the market used 2 AA batteries & fit a shirt pocket. I'm thinking around $20. apiece, you would just set these around the room, usually behind stuff. lamps, plants etc pointing upwards. Just enough to brighten the background and not much else.
    I think the GN was somewhere around "did you see a bright light"?
     
  14. winger

    winger Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,898
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2005
    Location:
    southwest PA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    As the mom of an active 15 month old, I second the duct tape idea. I should have video'd my attempt to get a portrait of him on his first birthday (he's been walking since 10 months). In the end, I got a few semi-decent shots by handing him a distraction - foil wrapped roll of 120 film. I was using my Pentax AF400T (not a small flash) shooting through an umbrella to spread it out a bit. I had to tone it down to not blow things out (smallish area - 10x10ish), but the biggest problem was keeping him in the area covered by the flash and by the camera. It really didn't come down to how much light there was - just whether or not he was even in the frame and facing even sorta in the right direction to be lit nicely. The better shots were later when he was strapped to the high chair and had a cupcake for distraction.
    Good luck!
     
  15. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,386
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2004
    Location:
    Melbourne, A
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    When they get a little bit older, they are much easier to keep still, and will even do so when asked most of the time. :wink:

    I do a few shots of each of my now 4 year old and nearly 6 year old boys each birthday and the challenge becomes a little easier each year. :smile:
     
  16. winger

    winger Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,898
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2005
    Location:
    southwest PA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    How much older? I really look forward to that. :smile:

    I agree with increasing the ambient light as much as you can, btw. This way, it won't matter what direction they're looking - 9 out of 10, it'd be away from the light.
     
  17. hidesert

    hidesert Member

    Messages:
    67
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2010
    Location:
    Olympia, WA
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I also have a SB-600 to use as a slave but it lacks the built-in optical sensor of the SB-800. Is it worth $85 to get the Nikon SU-4 or is there a reliable cheapy? There seem to be lots of negative reviews on Amazon for the cheapies.
     
  18. Paul Green

    Paul Green Member

    Messages:
    156
    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2007
    Location:
    Hampshire UK
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
  19. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,381
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Montgomery,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    There are several hot shoe slave on Amazon starting at around $8.
     
  20. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,957
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Try simple and free solutions first

    I think if you're a stop under with the ambient light you'd avoid that ugly paparazzi, Ron Galella look.