Invest in a light?

Discussion in 'Photography Board' started by AmongMadPeople, Oct 6, 2012.

  1. AmongMadPeople

    AmongMadPeople We're all mad here...

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    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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  3. wbeem

    wbeem DIS Veteran

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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
     
  4. photo_chick

    photo_chick Knows a little about a lot of things, a lot about

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    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.
     
  5. wbeem

    wbeem DIS Veteran

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    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-light-and-how-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.
     
  6. photo_chick

    photo_chick Knows a little about a lot of things, a lot about

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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.
     
  7. wbeem

    wbeem DIS Veteran

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    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/how-to-soft-light-portrait-photography/

    From that article:
    You don't have to believe in my worth. Just learn what you're talking about before you pretend to be an expert.
     
  8. photo_chick

    photo_chick Knows a little about a lot of things, a lot about

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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.
     
  9. wbeem

    wbeem DIS Veteran

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    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).
     
  10. photo_chick

    photo_chick Knows a little about a lot of things, a lot about

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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.
     
  11. wbeem

    wbeem DIS Veteran

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    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.
     
  12. photo_chick

    photo_chick Knows a little about a lot of things, a lot about

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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.
     
  13. wbeem

    wbeem DIS Veteran

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    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
     
  14. rmattman

    rmattman Mouseketeer

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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. :thumbsup2
     
  15. wbeem

    wbeem DIS Veteran

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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.
     
  16. MolonLabe

    MolonLabe DTOM

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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.
     
  17. wbeem

    wbeem DIS Veteran

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    Here's another resource. In my opinion, this one makes is the best foundation course on lighting. You can start without any knowledge at all and then easily understand the concepts in the first 30 minutes. The rest of the DVD builds on what you can do with those foundation concepts.

    http://zackarias.com/workshop/onelight-dvd/

    The good news is that lighting really isn't hard. It's just that you need to understand how the different variables interact for exposure, and how light modifiers affect the results on your subjects.

    The Strobist course is outstanding. The One Light Workshop DVD is like a quick-start guide for those who learn better from video than reading.

    There are also videos on the Strobist site. As I haven't seen them, I can't give a recommendation one way or the other. However, I'll say that David Hobby (Strobist) has an outstanding reputation as a lighting instructor.
     
  18. SarahJN

    SarahJN Mouseketeer

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    I have the SB-600 that I use with my D7000. Can you move or swivel the flash head on the SB-400? (I'm not positive but I don't think you can.) I'm not a fan of direct flash even when it is diffused so I bounce my flash off of the ceiling or off of a wall or window behind me (not directly behind me but up at an angle.)

    Just something to think about before you purchase the SB-400. You may want to move up to another model that has more features.

    Here's an example with the flash bounced at a 45 degree angle behind me:

    [​IMG]
    sept7n by 4forSarah, on Flickr
     
  19. AmongMadPeople

    AmongMadPeople We're all mad here...

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    It has very limited movement.

    Everyone's input has been helpful. I can understand why I should skip right over the SB400, but the cost difference is pretty substantial in my eyes. There is a big leap in versatility and features between the two options, but the leap in price means it will be relegated to a wish list for now.
     
  20. wbeem

    wbeem DIS Veteran

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    I understand that the expense may be more than you want to take on right now. However, there are low-cost flashes without the Nikon brand that can work for you. Do a Google search for "inexpensive Strobist flash."

    Here's one discussion that popped up about a flash for $30.

    http://photocamel.com/forum/lighting-technique/97353-nice-cheap-strobist-flash-less-than-30-a.html
     

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