I hadn't thought of mentioning about the angle, but I always bounce almost straight up due to the distance involved. At 45degrees, the light would be going straight over the top of them!
Attached pic is an example (although this one might have been with a 2nd slaved flash as well... can't remember)
Great shot, Nige! I love the expression.
Great lighting ratio. Very nicely done.
Ooh. I like that picture.
As for Angle, I've been using 70 degrees. I thought that would be good but maybe I was wrong. I'll try straight up and see if that helps.
Also, I'm strongly considering slaving in my other flashes. Nobody has responded to my questions above but it certainly looks like it should work. Any suggestions on how to mount them (not placement, physical mounting).
OK, a couple of things.
First of all, I'm not familiar with those flashes, but if they're Vivitar 283-class output flashes they should work. Or iow, about the same or more power as the old Nikon SB-24. You can of course use less-powerful flashes for bounce flash but you must take care; more about that later.
The flash-to-subject distance using bounce is of course from flash to the ceiling and from the ceiling to the subject, but bear in mind that there's _lots_ of light loss, I think generally two+ stops with an ordinary white ceiling, so it takes much more flash output to do ceiling bounce than direct flash or even if you use one of those relatively useless bounce gizmos.
If you're letting the camera fend for itself, most likely it's selecting an aperture that would demand far more flash power than is available, so take it off auto and manually set an aperture of f4 or so, assuming you're using EI 400 film. If your flash is one of the less-powerful models you may need to set the aperture to f2.8 or even f2 to assure sufficient exposure.
Another thing you can do when using ceiling bounce is use a kicker card; this is a small piece of white card (a business card is fine) attached to the back of the flash head, when the head's aimed upwards, that kicks just a little light straight ahead. This can prevent dark eye shadows when working close with bounce flash plus of course puts a little more light forward rather than behind you.
Also be sure you're not aiming the flash behind the subject; it should be aimed at the ceiling roughly 1/3 to half the distance from you to the subject.
Thanks for the advice. I use the "kicker card" concept when I am doing macro photography at work. I hadn't considered it for my other pictures, although i must confess I don't know why.
I have been trying to let the camera TTL flash control do all the work. In retrospect, that may be part of the problem. Now for what may be a dumb question:
You say to give about two stops extra exposure and you suggest doing this by going completely manual. While I don't have a problem with that, I'm wonder why either setting the camer to overexpose by two stops OR setting the flash to fire at two stops of overexposure wouldn't accomplish the same thing. I realize that I will have much better control with manual settings but shouldn't the other methods work?
> I have been trying to let the camera TTL flash control do all the work.
TTL-controlled autoflash exposure is ok although of course you may have to bias it. What I meant (and one wonders why I didn't just say so) is to not let the camera run in a program mode in which it automatically sets the aperture. The camera may happily set a small aperture while the flash just doesn't have enough juice for that.
> You say to give about two stops extra exposure and you suggest doing this by going completely manual.
No, you shouldn't have to give the extra exposure; the camera's ttl flash control should take care of that _assuming the flash has enough power for the aperture in use_.
Let me give you a few examples; I use a Sunpak 1600A, a couple of Metz 32-Z2s and a Metz 45, all with bounce flash. It's extremely rare that I've ever used direct flash. The Sunpak is a tiny low-power thing about half the size of a cigarette pack, the Metz 32 has about the same power as a Vivitar 283/285 or Nikon SB-24, and the Metz 45 has about a stop more power.
Using the little Sunpak and EI 400 film I can confidently shoot bounce flash in ordinary home-sized rooms using autoexposure at f2.8 Although the flash has settings for smaller apertures and those can be used in direct flash it simply doesn't have enough output to use the smaller apertures for bounce flash regardless of the fact that they can be set. The Metz 32 runs at f5.6 and the Metz 45 at f8. I simply set the lens aperture setting appropriate to the flash I'm using and let it rip in auto...perhaps with a minor exposure bias.
The point of all that is that to do bounce flash you must use a film speed and aperture setting that's appropriate to the flash you're using. If you're consistently getting dramatic underexposure then most likely the flash isn't powerful enough to operate with the aperture you've set and/or the speed film you're using.
You can (and should) let the flash run in TTL, but if you're letting the camera pick its aperture you may simply need to switch modes so you can set the aperture directly to something that'll likely work, such as f2.8 or f4. If your lens is a slow f5.6 zoom and you can't set a wider aperture then you'll need either a more-powerful flash or faster film.
Most likely an exposure-compensation adjustment will be needed, perhaps up to +1, to turn a maybe-adequate TTL-controlled exposure into a good TTL-controlled exposure. This is normal; in fact the exposure-control circuits for continuous light and flash are often separate and have separate sensors. While the results should be the same they rarely are. But at any rate, while a TTL-controlled autoflash exposure may be slightly less than a continuous-light exposure it definitely shouldn't be dramatically less whether the flash is direct, bounced off a gizmo, bounced off your white shirt, the floor or the ceiling. If it is, that indicates to me too small a lens aperture and/or too low speed film being used for the available flash power.
Thank you for the explaination. One more question, and excuse me if I am being extra dense here.
If I understand you correctly, I should be shooting in Aperature Priority mode with an appropriate f-stop and about +1 correction dialed in. The exact f-stop chosen will probably be determined by some experimentation.
Hey, we just got an SB80 where I work, and I don't have alot of practical experience with it yet, but I have been using SB26s and 28s for shooting events with both N90S and F100s for years. Before that, we used 283s, 285s and FMs for this sort of workand shot all manual with bounce or slaved units as well. I don't see why you shouldn't be able to bounce a small strobe in the situation you describe, but the thing to remember is the TTL or the programmed TTL that the Nikons use (I don't know how you got the camera set up?). But the camera's "brains" aren't necessarily smarter than yours in certain conditions and they can be fooled just like auto flash by dark or light tones and big, expansive areas.....with the Nikons, usually you control the background exposure on the camera (like dragging a shutter on a manual camera) and control the foreground (the strobe exposure) with the controls on the flash. The speedlights meter off a pattern that's close to centerweighted too. Alot of times I shoot on centerweighted and skip matrix altogether....I really only use that outside for fill flash....
I use an SU-4 with the SB26s as well as the older wireless automatic slave function they had. The SU4 is a buggy PIA to use and needs constant monitoring if you're actually using it on the run--what we do is to have the fill light be on the camera in the form of a SB unit with a Stofen kicked up at a slight angle. We shoot in close with fast, wide angles, and put the second strobe on a pole with the SU4 attached with a SC17 cable. This way you get the sensor down close to you so you can aim it at the main strobe on the camera or wherever. The SU4 works by line of sight for the light from the main unit--when it kicks on, it fires the slaved strobe. When the main shuts off, it shuts off. It really works, but is a PIA when things aren't "right" for it. It also draws it's power from the strobes AAs. So, it acts weird when they drop in power. We run them all off Turbos, but they still need fresh AAs in the Speedlight to power the SU4 correctly. This way, the assistant runs around with the slaved uni (btw--we zoom that unit out to the widest setting--flood it out) and is, in effect either fill or main depending on where they are positioned and how the speedlight is powered up. We like to shoot cocktail parties & night time events like this, with the stofen unit acting as fill and the second light on a pole above the grouping--think people in black-tie grinning at the camera. Or we do shots with this second light as rim light or lighting the background....the SC17 cord is good for this because you can hide that second strobe and the remote SU4 triggers it.....when I play "human lightstand", I usually hold the SC17/SU4 in my hand and aim it at the camera....the most *important* thing to remember with multiple lights is that you need to shield the lens for flare or avoid aiming that second strobe at the lens....it really helps to have the second person understand lighting if you do it this as well.
FWIW, when I shoot events alone, I often put the second SB on a stand with a SU4 and turbo, and either use it as the main (direct) or the fill (bounce or stofen)....I shoot kids every year with history projects at an awards convention like this with N90s...I put the SB26 on camera with a Stofen and the second one on a stand off about 45 degrees right or left., a little higher than my head and titled down, zooomed out to 20-24mm. This is my main....I shoot on manual TTL, usually 60th at 5.6 or so with a 28 or 35mm lens.....the room that they held it in last year was about 13000 sq ft and painted black. Big, black pit with overhead work lights that were mercury vapor..it worked great, with both chrome and b&w film.
No questions here, just a thank you to everybody who has responded. I have a lot to try out here and a lot of ideas on things that I could be doing but didn't think I had the capability to try. One week in this forum already has me trying things that I wouldn't have in several years of experimentation.