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Photography Question 
Pranati Mehta

Shadows as a Result of Using Flash

Hi. I use a Canon EOS 300V (Rebel Ti)35mm SLR. I also have a very basic Vivitar flash, which is not really very powerful. The problem is that the last time I used my flash at a wedding I got these unsightly shadows behind the people. After reading the tips on the same topic on this site, I've come to the conclusion that they were too close to the wall behind them. Next week I have to take pics of a ballet class in a lit hall. The hall is a reasonably well-lit one, but I think I'll have to use a flash as I can't really use a slow shutter speed, as the subjects will be in motion part of the time (they will also be posing). The question is: Should I bounce my flash, even if the subjects are away from the wall? And even if the flash is not a very powerful one? And should I use the built-in flash or use my marginally-more-powerful flash? I use 100 ASA speed film usually and so far I've had good results with in the past in terms of clarity and colour. Hoping to hear from someone soon! Thanks!

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11/7/2004 8:36:30 AM

BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/28/2002
  If the subject is away from the wall or the ceiling is too high, you have nothing to bounce the flash light. Even if the wall or ceiling is not white or near white, you may have color cast on the subject when you bounce the light. You may try to get a flash bracket, so that the flash is at a higher elevation to eliminate the shadow behind the subject (you may also need a cord to connect your camera to the flash). Also it is always a good idea to use the external flash than the internal one because the battery for the camera usually are more expensive than the AA types. Hope this helps.

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11/7/2004 10:26:57 AM

Kip T. Berger
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/20/2002
  Hi Pranati,
Since you said neither flash is too powerful, I'd try to stay away from trying to bounce off the ceiling or wall. Likely, the ceiling will be too high anyway. A cheap solution might be to use a white index card attached to your flash head to bounce the light off of. Stofen, Lumiquest and others make flash attachments for bouncing the light and are relatively inexpensive. With today's film, I'd try shooting with 200-400 speed; the grain is minimal unless doing large blow-ups. If you do a lot of flash photography, then you'll want to go Andy's route eventually. I like the Strobaframe bracket I use, and you'll need a Canon's off-camera shoe cord2.

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11/7/2004 9:59:16 PM

Greg McCroskery
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/27/2003
Subject placement is the real key to avoiding flash shadows with a camera/bracket mounted flash. As you already suggested, whenever possible move your subject away from any wall. Try to shoot against a darker, low reflectance background -- a dark wall or a darker fabric such as drapes. One technique I use is to place my subjects in front of, and slightly to the side of large plants -- the plants mask any shadows from the flash. However, be aware of limbs, etc. protruding from your subject's head. Hope this helps.
God Bless,

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11/9/2004 11:16:05 AM

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