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Photography Question 
Michele Wassell

Using Flash for People Shots Outside

Hello... How should you use a flash on an SLR camera (separate flash that you insert onto the hot shoe plate) for shooting people outdoors? I know that directness is harsh, so what other ways are there to doing it? This would be for a large family gathering - lots of candid and posed photos. Thank you for your help and info in advance.

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12/30/2005 6:24:02 PM


BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/28/2003
Can you be more specific about the situation? What are you looking for help with? Large group photos are one thing, candids are another, and individual or small groups are different too.

So, which would you be looking for help with, and what type of equipment?

Yes, I prefer diffused light. I almost never use direct flash, but that's just a personal preference.

Anyway, more details please.


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12/31/2005 5:32:50 AM

Michele Wassell   Thank you, Jerry. I wasn't sure how to post my question.

I am going to be photographing a family gathering party and doing posed shots along with candid shots of ppl. For the posed, it will be from about 2-8 ppl at a time.

I have a flash unit for the top of my SLR Digital Camera, but that is all I have and am not sure how to even use it without it being directed towards the ppl outside. I know for inside, you can bounce it off the ceiling / wall etc.

Let me know if I need to give any more info and thank you again. :)

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12/31/2005 11:17:34 AM

Michele Wassell   BTW, what is diffuse light exactly and how does that work?

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12/31/2005 11:17:59 AM


BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/28/2003
  Here's how I handle that...
I shoot with the flash at full power and use ETTL (that's basically the camera auto filling based on the exposure values). Then, I don't like flash much, so rather than shooting it at the people, I point the flash head straight up, and put on a stoffen bounce diffuser. All I want is a small amount of flash to twinkle the eye. That's it. So, I wind up with a tiny amount of flash on the subject, a nice twinkle in the eye, but the look of natural light. It's a win-win.
Another option is to have someone hold a reflector behind you, point your flash head straight up, with the diffuser on it, and have the reflector over your head point at the subjects. This will work just like a bounce.
Yet another option is to tape a white business card to the top of your flash, so it will throw light forward. Point the flash head up, and shoot.
All of these will work well. Just depends on what you like.
Lastly, the light is more important than the background. Always sacrifice background for light. In other words, move into the shade, regardless of what's behind them. If it's ugly behind them, use a shallow DOF. Light First, Backdrop 2nd
Good luck

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1/1/2006 2:52:31 PM

Michele Wassell   Thank you so much, Jerry, for your explanation and help. I really do appreciate. I apologize its taken me so long to get back to this thread to respond.

The first option you mentioned, I don't have one of the stoffen bounce diffuser and the second option of someone holding a reflector, I won't have anyone to assist me (planned anyway) and I want to be well prepared when I do this. But the third option with a white business card sounds like something I could handle. Just to make sure I understand this, I put the white business card on top of the flash unit where the light comes out and I say the top as it needs to be pointing straight up (flash unit), right? Can I put the flash on TTL and shoot in AV mode using this method?

Thank you so much for your help.


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1/6/2006 11:09:37 AM


BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/28/2003
  You tape or rubber band the biz card on the back of the flash head with about 1/4 or 1/2 inch sticking up from the back of the flash head, to throw light forward.

This should work, but it depends on your distance, and the whole situation. It's hard to tell.

I tend to only use flash when I absolutely have to. If you properly use light, you really almost never have to use flash. But, it can be challenging finding the light.

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1/6/2006 11:59:13 AM

Michele Wassell   Thank you Jerry.. Can this method also be used for indoor shooting too?


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1/14/2006 10:56:16 PM

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