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  1. #1
    DanielStone's Avatar
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    Fill flash for landscapes(dark foreground)

    hey all,

    last week I had the chance to get out and photograph some very nice wildflowers growing by the road. Got there about and hour before sunset, set up my RZ, and loaded a roll of Velvia 50. Lighting was perfect, some sky in the shot, and great flowers in the foreground.

    but,

    I then realized that when I took an ambient meter reading down near the flowers, I needed some fill. Luckily I still had my sb-28 speedlight and ttl cord in the bag, so I was able to hit the flowers with a bit of fill light.

    i set the flash to the same f-stop reading(taking flash meter reading, L-358) as the ambient meter reading(dome towards sun), and this is what I got:





    to you experienced nature(and wildflower) shooters out there, is this basically how you do fill-flash?

    I love being outdoors, but sometimes when I encounter situations like this( the exposure was like f/11 @ 2" or something like that, shooting between wind bursts). And currently saving up for a nd-grad git(expensive :o), I've been shooting mostly in the early morning or later in the day(1st/last hr of daylight).

    now obviously, I'd like the sky to be 2-3 stops darker, but that would necessitate a grad filter(which I don't have yet), or a faster shutter speed. but seeing that I don't have countless flash packs that can mimic the sunlight at that part of day, I'm kind of at a loss here.

    I held the flash(attached to the hot shoe on the rz, a sc-17 ttl cable connecting the two, flash on manual mode), about 3ft to the right, slightly higher than camera angle of view. Flash had a light yellow gel on it to warm things up a tad.

    any rec's for the next time? I'm really focusing on shooting more 4x5 and 8x10, and I'd love to be able to do shots like this on the larger formats, but doing it on 35mm or 120 is much less expensive in the long run.

    thanks

    -Dan

  2. #2
    keithwms's Avatar
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    I wouldn't use fill on a scene like this. The slope of the foreground means that the light won't be even... there will be flash falloff. And it will show. Usually.

    Yep, do save up and try a grad filter. They can be used on any format. And you will quickly run into problems trying to flash scenes with a lot of depth. Flash and landscape are a difficult pairing. If you do want to flash, you might try light painting... long exposures with many pops from the flash. But colour balance is tricky, and so most scenic flash shots tend to deliberately go for unusual colouring, i.e. gels over the flash. Quite different from natural/available light, if that is your thing.

    All that said, it seems you did well with what you had. So keep it up.
    Last edited by keithwms; 04-02-2010 at 09:58 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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  3. #3
    keithwms's Avatar
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    P.S. in LF (and maybe MF too), if necessary, you can hand dodge rather than use a grad. You get yourself a darkslide or such.... something matte black. You hold it over the part of your lens corresponding to the bright areas you want to get less exposure, using your GG image to judge how to do that (I put little chalk marks on my lens barrel as a guide). You then shoot part of the total exposure with the mask in place, while moving it vigorously to avoid a clear division. Like dodging. In a scene with relatively simple division like this, you can probably get what you want without a grad. And it's fun for the whole family. The results are a bit unpredictable, which is fun sometimes and not so fun other times.
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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  4. #4
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Fill is well worth experimenting with.

    Keith is right that there will be fall off so you will need to get creative.

    Get the strobe up high and stick it out over the flowers some, so it points down, this will even out the light some. You can also use a diffuser, like an umbrella or scrim.

    Have fun with it.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  5. #5

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    Yeah, I agree with Keith and Mark that fall off is a burden you have to deal with on these scenes. Obviously, the problem is the angle you are shooting at, flash axis downward. On camera flash is something you need to alleviate. A remote flash set up like a Lumedyne, Norman or some other unit that is not too expensive would help with control. They will give you plenty of power too. You can use speedlights but I think the light is too uncontrollable with them. Maybe one of the ultra small softboxes would help with the speedlight. No question you should use a graduated ND, that will make things a lot easier. Looks like you have fall off side to side in your image.

  6. #6
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Actually Speedlights are fine. I picked up "The Hot Shoe Diaries" By Joe McNally from the local library.

    Lots of great ideas in there, most all of them use Speedlights.

    One of the most fascinating things in this book is in how Joe manages color temperature.

    For say a city scape at sunset where there is lots of artificial green light he'll "set the camera up with a magenta filter" and use "a green gel on the strobe".

    The city lights look great not their standard ugly green, the sunset sky goes more vivid with enhanced purples and reds, and the foreground looks nice and normal because the green gel offsets the magenta filter leaving the foreground at a "normal daylight" color.

    Strobes Rock.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  7. #7
    kauffman v36's Avatar
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    looks good for a start. im heavy into flashing landscapes as its part of my everglades project, although a bit tricky at times. i try to underexpose the background by 1.5-2 stops to make what i want to flash stand out. however, if you want to flash the whole field, as others have said youll have a hard time due to fall off. you can however, use the falloff to your advantage, work with it in the image.

    keith, lemme tell you that i have never heard of your dodging technique before but ive thought about the concept a million times. i alwaysthink to myself " i wonder if dodging in exposing works like dodging in the darkroom" and then i say naaww it cant be. good to hear its been done and i will surely give it a go my next time out. i learn something new on apug every day.



 

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