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Photography Question 
Mindy Shores
 

Shadows with Flash on a Bracket


I have a Nikon D80 with a SB800 flash. I took a wedding this past weekend with my flash on the stroboframe flip bracket, but still have harsh shadows on vertical shots, even when flipping the flash. I don't understand it, I have the flash on ttl...

The only thing I can think of was that I was on a one step ladder so I was only up about a foot or so...could that be it?

Thanks,
Mindy


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12/13/2007 7:52:37 PM

 
Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
  Mindy,

A little more specificity might help.

What shadow? Where? Indoors? Outdoors?
Were your subjects close to a wall etc?


Pete


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12/14/2007 6:33:47 AM

 
Bob Fately   Mindy, a flash bracket "works" by locating the flash head further above the lens axis, thus dropping the shadows thrown downwards. This is fine when you are basically at eye level with the subject, as the shadow will then be hidden behind the subject itself.

However, bu getting up on the stepstool you may have changed your perspective enough that, from your point of view, the wall behind the subject is more visible. If this is the case, then the minor adjustment the bracket creates was probably not enough to throw the shadow downwards enough.

You might wnt to consider a flash diffuser (Lumiquest, Gary Wong, Sto-Fen, etc. - check other threads on thi site) to aid in eliminating harsh shadows.


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12/14/2007 6:55:24 AM

 
Alan N. Marcus   Hi Mindy,

As previously referenced, the main purpose of a flash bracket (besides mounting the flash to camera) is to increase flash-to-lens distance. The idea is mainly to reduce the probability of red eye which often results when the flash is mounted close to the lens. Additionally, off to the side lighting adds a third-dimension-effect.

Some tips: Position the flash higher and off to the side. If the flash is below or equal to lens height, the resulting image looks weird. The idea is to generate highlights on one side of the subject and shadows on the other side. The direction the shadows provides clues as to the direction (position) where the light is coming from. You want to create an illusion that the light is coming from above. Keep this in mind as you ordinate your camera from the horizontal to the vertical. Most flash units throw a rectangular pattern wider side-to-side. If the flash head is rotated 90į the flash coverage is now greatest up-down.

The greater the separation flash-to-lens the greater is the illusion of deeper shadows. Shadows can be softened by using nearby walls and the ceiling as reflectors. The idea is to cause these surfaces to throw light into the shadows. This is accomplished by feathering i.e. instead of aiming the flash directly at the subject the flash aim is offset partly playing on the ceiling or nearby wall. In short, a single flash generally means harsh shadows unless mitigated by reflectors or another flash unit acting as a fill light source.

Alan Marcus (marginal technical stuff)
ammarcus@earthlink.net


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12/14/2007 7:54:10 AM

 
Mindy Shores   Thanks for the input. I was shooting indoors, and the shadows were off to the left side of the subject (if looking toward the subject). The subjects were about 4ft away from the wall.

With regards to the diffuser, I had purchased a Gary Fong diffuser but was suprised that I wasn't getting enough light to generate from it.. I was on program mode and flash was set to TTL and even though the ceilings were slanted they weren't extremely high, I tried it with the cap off and on, and there wasn't enough light produced...any ideas on that would be great as well.


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12/14/2007 11:33:45 AM

 
Bob Fately   Well, Mindy, the Fong diffuser (or indeed, ANY diffuser) will effectively reduce the effective distance the flash produces, because it is spreading (diffusing) the light around more.

YOu indicate the subjects were 4 feet from the wall behind them, but how far from the subject were you? This also has to be figured in a calculation of light requirement.


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12/14/2007 11:38:33 AM

 
Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
  Mindy,

There ya' go..all these answers on HOW a flash bracket works are great, but not your problem.

4 feet from the wall? You WILL have shadows with only one light source.

I think you know what you need to do.


Pete


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12/14/2007 6:39:22 PM

 
Mindy Shores  
 
  Wed Pic with Shadows
Wed Pic with Shadows
Again, I was only a foot off the ground on a ladder and my bracket off the flash...I even got shadows on horizotal shots.

Lightsphere didn't give me enough lighting on a program setting.
© Mindy Shores
Nikon D80 Digital ...

 
 
Sorry, I meant to say I have a Fong light sphere, so I was again hoping to avoid the shadows. But the lightsphere was too dark even without that high of ceilings, so I chose my flash on the bracket.

I have attached a pic...


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12/16/2007 5:50:14 PM

 
Mindy Shores  
 
  shadow, not on ladder
shadow, not on ladder
program setting, ttl flash.
© Mindy Shores
Nikon D80 Digital ...
 
 
I am even getting them when I am away from the subject, the subject not close to a wall and I am not on a ladder....I don't understand.

Here is that pic.

Thanks again.


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12/16/2007 6:07:34 PM

 
Alan N. Marcus   So you donít like shadows?
If the flash is positioned higher than the camera and off to one side the result is shadows. You need these shadows to give an illusion of depth. The pictures we make are two dimensional; we need the shadows otherwise the work looks flat and uninteresting.

I strongly suggest you examine the work of other photographers. Surprise, their work is not that different than yours.

Lighten up your work is better than you think.

A rather uncommon method is bare-bulb flash. If you can conveniently remove your reflector you should try bare-bulb. Using this technique yields highlights that have a luminous quality; the shadows are rendered highly transparent displaying fine detail. Works when you are functioning in an average size room with light colored walls and ceiling. Lighting resembles that as seen on a hazy-bright day.

Alan Marcus (marginal advise)


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12/16/2007 7:54:11 PM

 
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