In the last few weeks I’ve covered the basic exposure controls like aperture and shutter speed. I’ve also discussed the concept of depth of field as an important aspect of the subject in a picture. Continuing with the Back to Basics series, it is time to explore another important aspect of the picture – contrast. Contrast is the difference in tone in your picture. Specifically the difference between the brightest colors in the pictures (called highlights) to the darkest colors in the picture (called shadows). Usually talking about contrast goes hand in hand with talking about hard light and soft light.[Read More…]
Search Results for: diy softbox
After discussing exposure in great detail, I would like to turn to a different kind of control – Depth Of Field (A.K.A. DOF). OK. Don’t jump – you are right. Depth Of Field is not a real control, but more of a result of how you used the aperture control.
In simple words Depth of field is the term you use to describe what is inside the focused area of your image and what is left outside of the focused area (and will stay home alone, and eat dry bread and drink stale water. Sorry Jewish mom syndrome…)
As I said before the control that has the most impact on depth of field is aperture. Bigger apertures tend to provide shallower depth of field. That means that if you open a wide aperture (say f/1.8) you will have a narrow location in your image which is focused. If you set your aperture to a small value, say f/22, you will have a huge focused area. The other two controls you can employ to control depth of field are Zoom focal length and camera to object distance.[Read More…]
As you probably can tell from the lighting articles on this site, I am not a great fan of on camera flash. The thing is that you don’t always have a choice. Sometimes you need to be both portable and have that extra few stops that a flash can produce. In that situation it is best to have a flash that can be attached to your hot-shoe mount. If you get really stuck, you can also use the pop-flash (AKA build in flash), but by doing this you are stepping to the realm of red-eyes, flat pictures and burnt people.
The best way to use an external flash is by triggering it by remote. (see the strobist for some great techniques on off camera flash use), but even if you get as creative as the strobster, sometimes you just have to have the flash on camera. For example: You are shooting a wedding and only have one or two flash units. Or is you are on the move along with your subject, and cant take the time to set up. So here are four simple ways to bounce your flash:
The way allot of photographers go is not to bounce at all. They place a stofen (A.K.A omni-bounce) on the flash, set the head to 45 degrees and shoot like there is no tomorrow. Now, the way the stofen works is it spreads dome of the light forward and bounce some of the light of the ceiling. so it only works if you have a nice, relatively low, white ceiling. This is considered a good solution by many photographer.
- when you bounce your flash, the light is coming to your subject in a diffused way. you will have less hot-spots (hot-spot is that shiny light at the tip of the subject’s nose that just cries for attention).
- Red eye will not be an issue since the light is coming far off the subject-to-lens axis.
- you will avoid those harsh shadows.
- Today’s modern DSLRs and flash units can calculate the light power you will need for the bounce, so you don’t have to make recurring measures to correct for the bounce.
Now I’m going to recycle some pics from the lightsphere article to demonstrate what happens when you use direct flash. when you use a bounce that “effect” is gone.
Why not bounce?
There are three main reasons why you would avoid bouncing your flash:
- Nothing to bounce from – if you are in an outdoor location, and there are no white walls, ceiling, canopy of people dressed in white
- Loss of light – you when you bounce your flash the light that your flash provides, need to travel further. remember that geometry class where the teacher says that the sum each two sides of the triangle is bigger then the third side? So light has to travel further. Also the bounce itself is taking some light. Even a completely white wall eats up a bit of light.
- smoke! smoke is the enemy of flash. if you are in a smoky area (or under the control of an 80’s smoke machines obsessed DJ), and you try to bounce you might end up with a big picture of white. That happens because the smoke reflects the light. If the light has to go through allot of smoke you will get a white wall.
OK, after we covered the PROs and CONs, here are some flash bouncing techniques you can use. You can use those even if you have no accessories. I am assuming, however, that you can tilt and swivel your flash – most flash units like Nikon’s SB-800, SB-28, or Canon’s 550EX or Vivitar’s 285 can both tilt and swivel.
Bounce 1 – off the ceiling
This is the most trivial bounce of them all. To do the ceiling-bounce, just tilt your flash to the ceiling (or at a ~75 degrees angle) and take the picture. The ceiling will act as a huge reflector, bouncing the light softly on your subject. If you are using TTL, eTTL, iTTL or heckTTL, the flash will take care of the output power to compensate for the loss of light. The con of this method is that you might get some shadows below the eyes, since all the light is coming from a high place, this is why you may want to consider the “reverse ceiling bounce”.
Bounce 2 – The reverse ceiling bounce
In this method you tilt your flash 45 degrees backwards, so you are actually flashing the wall and ceiling behind you. The ceiling and wall will give you great diffusion, with a “softbox” even bigger then the ceiling from “bounce 1”, and the light coming back from the wall will take care of eye shadows. The big tow minuses for this method is that you need a wall behind you and that you loose a ton of light, that just goes floating around the room. A personal TIP – take a quick peek behind you before shooting – just to make sure that aunt Jessi is not getting a load of flash in her new contacts.
Bounce 3 – The wall bounce (also known as the side bounce)
In this method, you swivel your flash 90 degrees sideways and bounce of the nearest wall. Again you get a wall-sized softbox. The nice thing about this method is that the light is directional – you will get great depth and character. Can’t find a wall? look to the other side, still can’t find a wall? try the person bounce.
See the bellow picture for a wall bounce (see other picture of my daughter in the children photography article)
Bounce 4 – bounce off a person
I got this one from Eric Vichich, and have been using it with great joy. This is good when you are out doors and you find someone who is waring white T-shirt. swivel the flash head to point to the person and shoot. It is best to use when there is still some day light, other wise the Ad-hock reflector person might get a full load of flash in his eye, and change from a friendly human reflector to a not so friendly red-eyed bull.
Well there you have it. happy bouncing. you can look at the lightsphere article for some bouncing diagrams.
Got some other neat flash techniques? share them on the comments.
So, I was trying to make a nice lighting for a still life picture I was taking. Sadly, I had none of my usual crap around. I was at lost. Suddenly, I heard a distant voice, telling me to to try something I’ve never done before and to try some new cheap way to take the picture, also to try and keep it innovative, and low cost (shuold be read “I have no money for gear, so I cant afford the stuff I really want).
This is the time to take a short break, and talk about that distant voice. It is not uncommon for me to hear voices in my head – nothing big, no one has ever told me to climb a water tower and go postal. yet… It’s just your usual voices – “you can snooze for 5 more minutes, the meeting will be delayed anyway“; “let Liry (my daughter) have another chocolate bar, mommy wont care“; you know, the usual things…. lately I’ve been hearing a new voice. In fact this voice is so load that it even dumps some of the older voices that tells me to buy more stuff to complete my poor photo gear collection.[Read More…]
Naomi Charles wrote:
You can now buy 27 watt spiral fluorescent bulbs that output 100watt
daylight 5500 Kelvin at homedepot. I have even seen them at walgreen
pharmacy. They are coollights and last for 7 years. I have also seen
daylight bulbs from revel and Philips but they are hot lights and last the
same as a regular light bulb. Some if them have a blue tint to them.
I also have a tip on how to diffuse the flash on your camera. tape a piece
of tissue or tissue paper over the flash to reduce red eye. You can also
tape a piece of posterboard at an angle to bounce the flash of your
camera. I really like this site. I can use some of the ideas to really
help me out. thanks a bunch Naomi
I am glad that you find the projects on the site useful. Feel free to share your ideas.
Florescence bulbs are cool, they are really good for "over head" lighting. just make sure you buy a daylight balanced one (5000K – 5500K). It is also worth mentioning that florescence do terrible job at getting dimmed – so no dimmer can be connected to them.
John Wilkins writes:
I’ve been reading your site diligently since I found it late last year.
Love the site btw.
I don’t have a full article, but I’ve made my own flash diffuser with a piece of tape and a snip of paper for my Canon S2 IS. I have to say that even though it’s very lo-fi, it has very dramatic effects on my photos. It’s very easy to do, and takes no dexterity at all. Just cut a 1 inch by .25 inch piece of paper, take a 2 inch piece of tape, fold one end for quick removal, place the paper on the tape, align it over the flash, affix, and wham-o. Instant diffuser. The corners on top can be trimmed to fit the flash, and like mine there will be a piece of tape covering the name Canon on the flash.
Whew! How’s that for a geeky run-on sentence?
I had no idea how dramatic the difference was until I gathered the images to send to you.I took the example pics of the SD400; the images of the diffuser on my camera were taken by someone else; I hope this helps some other budding noobie like me!
Canon S2IS with diffuser #1
Canon S2IS with diffuser #2
A picture taken with the diffuser
A picture taken without the diffuser
This is what DIYPhotography.net has to answer:
Thanks for the letter and photos. I think your idea is great, and very easy to build.
I have one suggestion for improvement. Tape the paper in a way that it will not be totally glued to the flash, that way the light will have some more space to get out of, and you will get even more diffused light. Now it looks like this: ||, and if it looked like this: |) it would be even better. You can also try using a special peper used for engineers which is half transparent to loose less light.
Zebra photography in the wild
We all know how hard it is to take a picture of zebra in the real, wild life world. One would have to wait for hours and hours to spot a herd of zebras, try to approach slowly and quietly, just to see them zebras fleeing away each time you get close.[Read More…]