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Old 10-06-2012, 04:28 PM   #1
AmongMadPeople
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Invest in a light?

I have a new D5100, and yesterday I got to try someone's SB400 light with it. I was amazed at the effect it had on my photos. They were indoor shots of people. I didn't get to use it outdoors at all, which is how I shoot the majority of the time. At home, 90% of my photos are my dogs in the backyard. At WDW, most of my photos are outdoors as well, but I also do the requisite room photos, some at hotels and restaurants, and of us.

Is there a big difference between it and the standard pop-up flash when you're outdoors and aren't bouncing the light off a wall/ceiling? If it's worth it for outdoor shots, should I also drop $10 on a diffuser?
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Old 10-06-2012, 05:00 PM   #2
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Learning how to add light to your photos opens up an entirely new realm of possibilities. The pop-up flash is weak and only works from one position. Get your flash off-camera and you can start playing with light from different angles. Also, you can vary the power of the light, which lets you have more creativity with your exposure.

Then you can get deeper into the world of off-camera lighting with light modifiers. The diffuser you mentioned is one that helps spread the light around. Some folks think it softens the light, but it doesn't. In order to soften the light, you have to use a larger light source.

When folks start bouncing off the ceiling or a wall, as you mentioned, that's how they create a larger light source with respect to their subject.

One of the best places to start learning about the possibilities is the Strobist 101 course. I'd recommend reading it a bit before you start buying stuff. There are a lot of crap-gadgets out there.

http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101.html
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Old 10-06-2012, 05:18 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmongMadPeople View Post
I have a new D5100, and yesterday I got to try someone's SB400 light with it. I was amazed at the effect it had on my photos. They were indoor shots of people. I didn't get to use it outdoors at all, which is how I shoot the majority of the time. At home, 90% of my photos are my dogs in the backyard. At WDW, most of my photos are outdoors as well, but I also do the requisite room photos, some at hotels and restaurants, and of us.

Is there a big difference between it and the standard pop-up flash when you're outdoors and aren't bouncing the light off a wall/ceiling? If it's worth it for outdoor shots, should I also drop $10 on a diffuser?
In most situations the farther away from the lens you get the light source the better. For many reasons. And having an articulated flash is a huge bonus. So if you plan to really pursue flash photography I'd get a good flash. It's not the only way to shoot, many of us prefer available light. It all comes down to personal style.

Diffusers... diffusers make shadows softer by spreading the light more. It's not the only way to soften shadows but they can come in handy in certain situations. Again, it comes down to personal style. If you're using your flash for fill light outside a diffuser might not be very helpful.. it really depends on which one and which flash you're using.
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Old 10-06-2012, 05:35 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by photo_chick View Post
Diffusers... diffusers make shadows softer by spreading the light more. It's not the only way to soften shadows but they can come in handy in certain situations.
That isn't what's really happening. By spreading the light more, you're reducing the amount of directional light toward your subject. That means you have to use more power to get an equivalent amount of light on your subject, since so much of it is being wasted (if there isn't a place to bounce the light nearby).

Soft light comes from the size of the light source in relation to the subject. If you're near a wall, that diffuser can help spread the light and bounce back at your subject. If you're outdoors with nothing to bounce, that diffuser is just robbing your power and not softening any shadows at all.

I put some lighting tests on my blog with flash, dome diffuser and a Gary Fong to show how the light spreads. At the bottom of the post is a link to the next test examining the shadows.

http://williambeem.com/repost-the-li...w-to-swing-it/
http://williambeem.com/the-shadow-knows/

As I mention in the post, it's not that domes aren't useful. It's just that the use is often misunderstood.
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Old 10-06-2012, 07:26 PM   #5
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I'm not getting into a whose lens is bigger contest here. You're not worth it. But really, wbeem, you might want to consider that some things can be looked at from different points of view. That doesn't make one or the other incorrect.

Soft or hard light is largely determined by the shadows. That's a basic photo 1 concept.
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Old 10-06-2012, 08:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by photo_chick View Post
I'm not getting into a whose lens is bigger contest here. You're not worth it. But really, wbeem, you might want to consider that some things can be looked at from different points of view. That doesn't make one or the other incorrect.

Soft or hard light is largely determined by the shadows. That's a basic photo 1 concept.
Oh, please. You gave out incorrect information. I'm sure you meant well, but get over yourself. I know you have your ego wrapped up in being the "Photo Chick", but sometimes you are just blatantly wrong.

In this case, it isn't a matter of a different point of view. It's a matter of physics. It isn't something I made up to contradict you. If you like, I can point you to NUMEROUS sources that will dispel the myth you're purporting here. For example, here's one:

http://improvephotography.com/285/ho...t-photography/

From that article:
Quote:
What makes light soft?

One thing, and one thing alone makes lighting soft: size. It is not about how bright the light source is, nor how diffused the light source is, nor anything else. Its all about size. The larger the light source, the softer the light.
You don't have to believe in my worth. Just learn what you're talking about before you pretend to be an expert.

Last edited by wbeem; 10-06-2012 at 08:13 PM.
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Old 10-07-2012, 01:20 PM   #7
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If shadows have a soft edge on your shadow you're probably got diffused light. If shadows have a hard edge it's going to be from a point light source. And yes, the sun is just a huge point light source when there are no clouds to diffuse it.

Just because someone wrote an article online doesn't make it true or factual. The quote you posted, pretty easily disproved depending on how you look at it. The sun is a really good example. The sun can be soft, diffused light on a cloudy day but hard light on a clear day. Like so many other things, size doesn't matter. Now where size can matter is in how bright the light is. And some consider that the intensity, just depends on how you look at it. But how bright the light is isn't the same as being diffused or a point ight source.

I wasn't saying you were wrong. I was saying we were looking at things from a different perspective. But hey, if you want to keep being closed minded go ahead. It's your loss. and I never pretned to be an expert. I'm the first to admit that for as much as I know about photography there is probably a greater amount that I don't know. I think you're the one who likes to pretend.
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Last edited by photo_chick; 10-07-2012 at 01:30 PM.
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Old 10-07-2012, 02:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by photo_chick View Post
If shadows have a soft edge on your shadow you're probably got diffused light. If shadows have a hard edge it's going to be from a point light source. And yes, the sun is just a huge point light source when there are no clouds to diffuse it.

Just because someone wrote an article online doesn't make it true or factual. The quote you posted, pretty easily disproved depending on how you look at it. The sun is a really good example. The sun can be soft, diffused light on a cloudy day but hard light on a clear day. Like so many other things, size doesn't matter. Now where size can matter is in how bright the light is. And some consider that the intensity, just depends on how you look at it. But how bright the light is isn't the same as being diffused or a point ight source.

I wasn't saying you were wrong. I was saying we were looking at things from a different perspective. But hey, if you want to keep being closed minded go ahead. It's your loss. and I never pretned to be an expert. I'm the first to admit that for as much as I know about photography there is probably a greater amount that I don't know. I think you're the one who likes to pretend.
I think you just showed why you don't know what you're talking about.

The sun isn't soft. The diffusion through clouds makes it soft because clouds are larger, relative to the subject, than the sun. The concept is the same as using a small flash to bounce light off the wall.

From the subject's perspective, the wall is the light source. The clouds are the light source. The reason the shadows are soft is because of the size of the light source relative to the subject.

You can go ahead and cast on the insults you want about a closed mind, but it would be nicer if you could open your mind. You didn't disprove a thing. All you did was show that you don't understand what's happening with light. If you'd step down from your ego and do some research, take some photographs, you could demonstrate this to yourself (since all the Internet articles that disagree with you seem to be wrong).
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Old 10-07-2012, 02:58 PM   #9
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LOL... You're so misinterpreting what I said. But you obviously have a need to make others feel smaller than yourself. Have fun with that.
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Old 10-07-2012, 04:00 PM   #10
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LOL... You're so misinterpreting what I said. But you obviously have a need to make others feel smaller than yourself. Have fun with that.
I see that you revert to insults frequently. There's no point in continuing this conversation with you, as you are clearly unwilling to learn anything - whether from me or other sources on the Internet.
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Old 10-07-2012, 04:31 PM   #11
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Funny coming from the one who flings out the insults first in a discussion.

The irony of all of this is that we're not that far apart in what we were saying. You were so quick to tell me I'm wrong you couldn't even consider that I'm making a similar point, just from a different perspective.
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Old 10-07-2012, 06:09 PM   #12
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Funny coming from the one who flings out the insults first in a discussion.

The irony of all of this is that we're not that far apart in what we were saying. You were so quick to tell me I'm wrong you couldn't even consider that I'm making a similar point, just from a different perspective.
I did not insult you. I informed you that you were in error. You're still in error, but you're unwilling to admit it. This isn't a matter of perspective or opinion. You are quite simply providing misinformation based upon a poor understanding of how light behaves.

"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." --Aldous Huxley
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Old 10-07-2012, 08:07 PM   #13
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wbeem, thanks for posting the Strobist link. I have lots to learn about the use of light in my photos, particularly flash photography (off camera).

As a side note, it seems that relativism has inserted itself into discussions regarding the physics of light.
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Old 10-07-2012, 08:40 PM   #14
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I apologize to the OP and everyone else about the bickering on this thread. There are plenty of excellent resources to learn lighting and I think the Strobist link is a great place to start.

With regard to the SB-400, it has some limitations. There's no PC Sync port, which means you can't trigger it with a radio trigger like a Pocket Wizard.

You can trigger it with Nikon's Creative Lighting System (CLS), but that's a line of sight system that can be unreliable outdoors. Unfortunately, it can't act as a master to trigger other CLS flashes.

It's fairly inexpensive, but that's because it's the least-capable CLS flash Nikon makes. You may want to look at a used Nikon SB-800. Plenty of power and flexibility. It can use radio triggers and also act as a master for other CLS flashes.
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Old 10-07-2012, 08:43 PM   #15
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That strobist link is great. I just read through the entire thing. I'll be moving on to the rest of it (lighting 102 and on assignment) later.

I need to master this light thing (as well as I can) in the next few weeks. My WDW trip is right around the corner and I don't want to blow it because I failed to properly prepare.

Thanks William.
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