manual flash pointers?

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by viridari, Dec 24, 2008.

  1. viridari

    viridari Member

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    Switching from a DSLR to a very manual TLR has been a learning experience. So has using manual on-camera flash. I shot a couple of test rolls of B&W film through my Mamiya C330 with a Vivitar 285HV stuck to the side and powered on for every shot. Some of them turned out relatively pleasing to me, while others were, well, pretty harsh.

    Google is not being my friend and I'm wondering if any of you have some favorite web sites that break down how to effectively use a fully manual on-camera flash with no TTL and still get good exposures, no hot spots, etc.

    One of the better results, using flash as fill in fairly strong daylight:
    [​IMG]

    Less good:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    So I know I need to get a diffuser on the end of the Vivitar. Limited options for bouncing in most of the places that I shoot, especially considering the flash mounts to the side of this camera, instead of up top, so any bounce would have to be off a wall or something. No ceiling bounce.

    It would be good to find some resource where I can familiarize myself with useful rules of thumb for making better use of this setup with more soft even lighting and pleasing results.

    Thanks and Merry Christmas to all!
     
  2. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    bouncing and diffusing can reduce this. If you have exposure down, just know that changing the shutter speed (along with aperture inversely) changes the ratio of flash light to ambient light.

    I've seen a "one cent diffuser" by taping a sheet of paper to the top of the flash when pointed up. It's on ken rockwell's site somewhere, cool idea.
     
  3. viridari

    viridari Member

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    Thanks but remember, with this camera, I can't bounce up (just to the left of the photographer) as the flash is mounted to the side of the camera instead of to the top. Also, since I often shoot in outdoor urban environments, there is usually nothing above me or to the left of me to bounce from. Traveling light, just me and the camera, flash, and Sekonic L358 plus a manpurse with some extra film.

    I guess I'm looking for an equivalent to the old Sunny 16 rule to apply to flash use to help me figure out how high I ought to be dialing the output of my flash compared to ambient light, and how to diffuse direct light adequately (see the example image of the glare on the black door behind the woman sitting on the stoop) while still getting the exposure right.
     
  4. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    You can still turn the paper to the left. It works sideways, upsidedown, etc.

    If you're using flash outdoors try reducing the power and diffusing it; by using more ambient light you'll get a fill flash effect rather than a hard only flash lit scene. If you take a picture of a reflective door straight on you will get hot spots, try angling your shot or just taking off the flash. I don't see why you're so intent on using a flash. There's a time and a place for everything. Hard sunlit shots yes, diffused shadow light it's not helping.
     
  5. viridari

    viridari Member

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    I want to be more comfortable using flash outdoors in daylight conditions mainly to diminish hard shadows. That's the point of it. I want to be able to consider the sun as just another light source rather than having to ask my subjects to turn so that the sunlight falls on them just-so. Or maybe use the sun as a hair light from behind, and flash to light up the face.

    With the DSLR I would do this kind of stuff with off-camera flash and models but I had the luxury of time and being able to compose my lighting and my shots to my satisfaction without the model saying "forget it" and taking off. With street photography, being quick about it is vital.

    Maybe I just need to get more comfortable working in ambient light without the flash, I don't know. Most of my experience now is either with multiple off-camera flash and a DSLR, or ETTL on-camera flash on a DSLR, which are both sort of a whole different ball game. I very rarely shoot without any flash at all.
     
  6. David Grenet

    David Grenet Member

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    Also look into the 90 degree "L" grip for the c330 - I find it the most comfortable way to use these cameras and there is a shoe for a flash on the top of the handle.
     
  7. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I would caution against using the shoe on the side of the C330 to mount a Vivitar 285HV flash.

    When I used a Vivitar 283 with my C330, I always used the Mamiya L grip with the trigger release on the grip (it is the same one for the RB67) and a pv cord to hotshoe adapter seated on the grip. If you have the pc cord for the flash, you wouldn't need the adapter.

    For the last few years, I've used a Metz 60CT flash mounted to the side of the grip - the swivel head makes side bounce possible.

    My 283 used to have a cord that allowed you mount the sensor near the camera, and move the flash off camera to help deal with situations like your second example. Does your flash offer that option?

    Matt
     
  8. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    If you're using the flash as fill, rather than as the main light, it can be direct flash, and as long as you've got it balanced well with the main light--the sun--it won't look so harsh. Generally you want to set the flash to be about 1 to 1.5 stops under the main light for fill.

    If you're using (non-TTL, non-dedicated, obviously) auto flash, then you can set the ISO setting on the flash 1 to 1.5 stops higher than the ISO you are using to determine the ambient exposure, so that it will provide 1 to 1.5 stops less light than the ambient light.

    If you're using the flash on manual, then you can use the power settings on the flash if you have them and the flash/subject distance calculator to determine flash exposure, or if you only have one flash power setting, use the aperture to control flash power and the shutter speed to control the ambient light level, because the flash exposure is independent of shutter speed as long as you are at the X-sync speed or slower. If your camera has a leaf shutter it will sync at all speeds.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 25, 2008
  9. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Some photographers want this direct flash look. It is part of their style. Look at Mary Ellen Mark and Lee Friedlander.

    So, yes, if the direct look of your light doesn't work for your vision, find a way to diffuse it. But don't overlook the possibility of a unique signature to your images from the directness of the light.
     
  10. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    A clean white cotton handkerchief held on the flash head with a rubber band makes a good diffuser. One thickness = 1stop, two thicknesses =2stops.
     
  11. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Recently I got an UpStrap, and it came with an inflatable flash diffuser attached by an elastomer fastening device, which is to say, a frosted plastic bag and a rubber band. I haven't tried it, but they say it works.
     
  12. mikebarger

    mikebarger Subscriber

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    Take a plain 3x5 card bend it to a 45 degree angle, then use a rubber band to secure it to the 285.

    The light bounces off the card, works anywhere. I use this on a 283 all the time.

    Mike
     
  13. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Vivitar made a card holder for the 283/285. It was a bracket that would hold a Kodak grey card. White side forward of course. The L bracket will take a lot of weight off that accessory shoe. There were also flat brackets that would hold the flash upright, but not raise it.
    The center shot of the gent sitting in the chair looks as if the exposure is a little hot on his legs & under on his body. Holding exposure constant on a three dimensional subject like that is going to be difficult in a casual situation.
     
  14. eddym

    eddym Member

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    The 285 has, as I recall, four auto settings. Take an ambient light reading with your Sekonic, then choose an aperture and shutter speed that will give you a correct ambient exposure. Then set the flash to one of its auto settings that is 1-2 stops wider than your camera aperture. For example, if you are shooting at 1/250@f11, set you flash to an auto setting between f8 and f5.6. That way the flash is giving you 1-2 stops less than the ambient light. If there's no auto setting that matches, change the camera to an equivalent exposure -say, 1/500@f8 or 1/125@f16. You should not need diffusion if you have more than one stop less fill than ambient.
    And I agree strongly with the advice about the grip; letting the flash stick out of the side of your camera is asking for an accident.
     
  15. TenOx

    TenOx Member

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    Street shooting maybe should be harsh. Using a flash as primary illumination, it probably will be, though. Diffusion is great, but the softness and evenness of your light source is mostly dictated by the size of it, the larger the softer. That what diffusion really is. You can diffuse by putting light through or bouncing off of a larger surface, such as brolly or a wall. The sun would appear as a pinpoint light source, but it is diffused by the atmosphere and innumerable reflections. So a typical compromise is to use a card to increase the size of the source, and bend the head to ~45° for partial direct light. I used that a bunch for grip'n'grin shots for newspapers. It works, more or less, but probably wouldn't be the best for a wedding, unless they were looking for a hardcore Weegee type look.

    /./.
     
  16. jime11

    jime11 Member

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