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.
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.
I have thought about this. At most, I could pop the flash to the side with a sync cord.
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?
Camera in one hand, speed light in the other.
Originally Posted by rayonline_nz
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.
Thanks all for the help :)
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.
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.
Thanks again :)
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.
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.
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.