On camera flash diffuser.

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by rayonline_nz, Jul 29, 2012.

  1. rayonline_nz

    rayonline_nz Member

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    Hi, some have advised me the original sto-fen is fine while others has told me go with a larger one. I have a Nikon SB-800.

    Like to get some confirmation.
    In December, I want to do some portraits of friends outdoors where I won't be able to bounce, ie - botanical gardens and along the civic centre and waterfronts. I want to do 1 or 3 people full height or half height in the afternoon including during times of 12-3PM. In the gardens I may get some shade but along the waterfront and civic centre I won't have that.

    I want soft light with minimal shadows.

    Cheers.
     
  2. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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  3. Dan Quan

    Dan Quan Subscriber

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    i dont understand the question.

    the stofen is really designed to spread light, if its tipped upward it will bounce light off a ceiling, if available, without a ceiling it will taper the light, diffusing upward if it is tipped in that direction. if you want minimal shadows you need to minimize, or compensate for, or fill the shadows created by the primary light source, presumably the sun. that can be done by shortening your shutterspeed to compensate or limit ambient light whilst adding flash to fill the shadows, or while strictly adding ambient like with a reflector fill) or flash (upto your desired setting's) whilst keeping your shutterspeed and aperture constant, and usually from as large a position above you lens axis as possible in order to fill and eliminate shadows equally, to the desired ratio.

    does this make sense?
     
  4. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    With most modern-day Canon and Nikon flashes, it is possible to put a truly gob-smacking diffuser on the flash head the dwarfs the camera (like those offered by Gary Fong) — oddball accessories that conveniently hide you, acts as a windfoil, attracts the anti-terrorism Police and draws stickybeaks like bees to a honeypot. To say nothing of unbalancing already challenging deadweights. The StoFen is quite reasonable, simple, unassuming and unobtrusive, and will not obstruct the TTL flash sensor while so many others do. But it works well too with indoor bounce with added exposure (to overcome light lost to bouncing).

    If you want soft light and have just one flash and a StoFen, prey for hazy to overcast weather. This will give you diffuse illumination across the scene with very light to no shadow. A fine day — especially between the high-noon summer hours of 12 to 3pm, will create huge swathes of shadows, massive variations in contrast and headaches with lighting and I'd generally look at packing two flashes and a reflector (held by somebody there to help you wrangle all this caboodle). Maybe start practicing with some willing subjects to refine technique before the day arrives.
     
  5. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Bounce can light an entire room, without bounce the only thing you can light easily is the subject.

    The problem becomes one of balance. You can't light the background easily.

    Cameras like the F100, N90s, F5, and F6 can use their matrix metering to balance the ambient and flash exposure.

    What camera are you using?
     
  6. CD55

    CD55 Member

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    I use a Demb Flip It! Reflector http://www.dembflashproducts.com/flipit/ and it works really well indoors and outdoors. You can change the angle of the reflective screen from about 60 degrees forward to flipping it backwards out of the way. I know you stated you'll be using flash mostly outdoors but the Flip It! really shines indoors when you use it in combination with bouncing off of a ceiling. Check out the gallery for various examples people having used it.
     
  7. rayonline_nz

    rayonline_nz Member

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    Thanks will have a look at the Demb product. You guys used the Lastolite Ezybox or something?

    I have a Nikon F100.

    I would be outdoors by the waterfront walkway and in a botanical garden (still outside). Won't be able to bounce off a wall and won't have access to a reflector etc ... me the one man army. Not pro work, just want something better.
     
  8. Dan Quan

    Dan Quan Subscriber

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    with nothing to bounce from i would use the flash without any hindrance, just straight. you will gain NOTHING through filtration or pseudo bounce techniques, and only diminish your power.
     
  9. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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    Agree. Sto-fens and the Fong mini-toilet bowl diffusers aren't the answer. The OP's F100 and the SB25/26/28 speedlights should do the trick.
     
  10. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    The F100 is a great tool for this.

    Fast modern lenses that can talk to the camera used as close to wide open as you can will help as will reasonably fast films. These two raise the quality of the overal exposure because it makes it easier to get background exposure/detail, which is being lit by ambient light and keep the shutter speed up in a reasonable range. The flash can light the main subject regardless as long as it is in the range indicated by the SB-800.

    Actually diffusers won't help here, with the SB-800 in Matrix TTL MODE the camera will read the lens and measure the distance to the focus point and focus the flash to match the lens focal length. As the shutter is pushed the camera reads the background and subject and balances the exposure.

    Diffusers get in the way here, they defeat the fancy math the camera does by screwing up what the flash unit can deliver to the subject.
     
  11. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    With the F100 and the SB800, let the Matrix TTL Mode do the work. I have done it many times.
     
  12. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    If you want soft light and minimal shadows on portrait, perhaps on camera flash isn't the best way to go.

    soft shadows has a lot to do with size of the light source rather than the diffusion of the light itself. This is one of the reasons why small and portable umbrellas are often used with speed lights. Those on-camera flash diffusion attachment doesn't really change the size of the light itself. It just scatters it in all directions and basically weakens it. If you do that under daylight conditions, you will not have enough power to do much of anything except as a weak fill. You won't be able to over-power the sun. Also, frontal lit portraits aren't always flattering.

    If I were in your position, I will first try to find locations with open shadows. I will also try to use large reflectors and when necessary, overhead diffusers. Only then, I might use OFF camera remote flash for catch light.

    In my opinion, the location you are describing isn't the best for what you want. If you can't change the location, then so be it, but if you can, I'd do that first.
     
  13. rayonline_nz

    rayonline_nz Member

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    Won't be able to use a reflector, won't have assistants. A tradeoff. Maybe a bit like wedding guys, they just turn up and do the best they can.

    This is too large.
    http://www.lastolite.com/ezybox-hotshoe.php

    I have thought about this. At most, I could pop the flash to the side with a sync cord.
    http://www.lastolite.com/ezybox-speedlite-softbox.php

    They may spend time outside at later in the afternoon, as it's visiting friends. I could always say that and they would oblige I think. Like late morning or later afternoon, maybe even approaching sunset time and twilight. In these situations, what light modifier do you suggest?
     
  14. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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  15. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Keep in mind that you are planning to shoot the event in summer — a New Zealand summer! The sun will be high up, possibly hot and no doubt, harsh, unlike winter right now where ideal shooting conditions are everywhere. You'll need lots of experimentation in similar conditions to this, and better still, when it is overcast. Sunset and twilight are ideal but the flash needs to be tempered to avoid the cat-caught-in-the-glare-of-headlights look. One neat trick that many professionals use is a multi-flash: 2 or three very light flashes rapidly, either manually controlled, metered with a flashmeter or taken care of automatically by the flash. It can yield interesting results.
     
  16. rayonline_nz

    rayonline_nz Member

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    Thanks all for the help :smile:

    If I can take the flash to the side. Where to place the flash generally? Do you normally place it at the front of the face where the subject is looking at?

    One technique I read is that the sun behind the subject maybe at an angle and move the camera flash to the side (in front). So just work with what you can. Cool. Some say that the sun should be behind the photographer maybe at an angle. If the sun is strong, how do you address that?

    No reflectors to balance the shadow side.
     
  17. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    If the sun is generally behind the photographer the only "need" for flash is purely creative.

    In any case anywhere in the range of your arm is fair game. This is where some practice really helps.
     
  18. rayonline_nz

    rayonline_nz Member

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    Thanks again :smile:

    Just one more question if I may. Outdoors esp with the afternoon summers sun. The working distance may be limited. Diffusion is a no no. Ok. If a friend holds a white reflector for me, could I bounce it off that or would that also be limited? Would you then suggest a straight bare flash.

    In the past while you can lower the flash output, I found that it helps but still may get that harsh look. Maybe that is how it's going to be.
     
  19. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Yes you can use a reflector, very workable.

    Its not an issue of technically possible or not on these techniques.

    Not trying to be captain obvious here but my suggestion is that you get out and practice and experiment.
     
  20. eddym

    eddym Member

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    I'm with the "don't need a reflector" group. The SB800 auto ttl works very well. I would, however, use the flash controls to reduce the flash power by 1-2 stops, depending on how much fill you need and how natural you want the light to look. The SB800 is adjustable in 1/3 stops, and I usually set mine at -1-1/3 or -1-2/3 stops, for a more natural-looking fill.