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Forums Lobby MASTER YOUR TOOLS - Hardware & Software Nikon Speedlights & Lighting topic #35824
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Subject: "3 flash setup" Previous topic | Next topic
97C5L Registered since 05th Oct 2008Sun 19-Oct-08 04:28 PM
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"3 flash setup"


US
          

I recently bought the Impact umbrella kit consisting of 2 32" umbrellas and added a 45" Photoflex umbrella to the mix. My idea is to have a fairly portable lighting kit for portraits of family and friends at their homes or mine. I do not have a background yet and thought about using a system of sticks in cans filled with concrete I found on youtube and maybe a gray cloth to start out with.
I have a D300, an SB800, 2 SB600s and 2 SB50DXs. I'm going to be experimenting with this setup using Nikons legendary CLS system.
My first "assignment" is to take pictures of a 3 month old baby.
I'm wondering if anyone has a similar setup or suggestions, dos and don'ts on how to use what I have. Thanks for your time.

--When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.-- Edmund Burke

  

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Replies to this topic
Subject Author Message Date ID
Reply message RE: 3 flash setup
VeeDubb
20th Oct 2008
1
Reply message RE: 3 flash setup
97C5L
21st Oct 2008
3
Reply message RE: 3 flash setup
HBB Moderator
20th Oct 2008
2
Reply message RE: 3 flash setup
97C5L
21st Oct 2008
4
Reply message RE: 3 flash setup
Arkayem Moderator
21st Oct 2008
5
Reply message RE: 3 flash setup
97C5L
23rd Oct 2008
6
     Reply message RE: 3 flash setup
Arkayem Moderator
23rd Oct 2008
7

VeeDubb Registered since 07th Jun 2007Mon 20-Oct-08 12:46 AM
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#1. "RE: 3 flash setup"
In response to Reply # 0


Dallas, US
          

I don't have much to contribute on the 3 light set-up, but I wanted to give you a tip on the portrait backdrop. 2 actually.


First, You may not need a full-size backdrop, especially to start out. At my local camera shop I found some "sample sized" backdrops. They were high quality muslin backdrops, just like the huge professional ones, except they were 5' x 6' and only set me back $10.00 a piece. I bought both of the ones he had on hand. They are a perfect size for doing individual portraits.

Second, if you're on a budget, head to Michael's, Craft Warehouse or whatever the big craft store in your area is that sells fabric. NOT wally world. They don't carry what you want.

Buy yourself several yards of nice wide muslin, and a box of whatever color of RIT fabric dye you want, and make your own backdrop for a fraction of the price.

You can even get a nice mottled effect by doing a sloppy tie-dye.

http://www.stevecoonsphoto.com

  

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97C5L Registered since 05th Oct 2008Tue 21-Oct-08 04:48 AM
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#3. "RE: 3 flash setup"
In response to Reply # 1


US
          

Unfortunately the nearest Michaels is 70 miles away but you've given me some great ideas. Thanks.

--When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.-- Edmund Burke

  

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HBB Moderator Hal is an expert in several areas, including CLS Awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Resources. Charter MemberMon 20-Oct-08 03:56 PM
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#2. "RE: 3 flash setup"
In response to Reply # 0
Tue 21-Oct-08 04:03 AM by HBB

Phoenix, US
          

Kurt:

The pair of SB600 speedlights will work better with the smaller umbrellas, depending on the depth of field you require. The larger the umbrella, the more diffuse the light, as a given quantity of light is spread over a greater area. Working with a small infant, you should have plenty of light.

When mounting the SB600s in the umbrellas, try and get them as close to the umbrella shaft as possible, centering their light in it. This produces more uniform light. It may be useful to include a small ball head on the umbrella bracket so this can be done.

By using the SB800 on-camera as master/commander, you can more readily make changes to the remote power levels. You may want to unbalance the light on the subject, producing highlight and shadow side illumination to give the image depth. The on-camera SB800 can be used as a bit of fill or can be turned OFF (---) in which case its only function is control the two remote SB600s. Yes, you could use the on-camera popup speedlight to control the remote SB600s, but it is a much slower process using the camera's menus.

Once the SB600s have been set to the remote mode, all of their functions are controlled from the on-camera SB800. You can try TTL mode with the remote SB600s, and balance the light using the + and - settings on the SB800. Or, you can set the remotes to manual mode on the SB-800 and control their power using the M1/1 ... M1/64 settings.

If the infant and its surroundings are light colored, the TTL mode will likely under expose a bit and you will have to compensate by increasing the remote SB600 exposure using the on-camera SB800. Some users prefer the manual mode as they feel it gives more positive control. Your choice, wither will work.

I don't have any SB50DX speedlights, so cannot comment on their use. I suspect they are not CLS compatible which means they will probably not work as remotes in the above configuration.

Regards,

HBB in Phoenix, Arizona
Nikonian Team Member

Photography is a journey with no conceivable destination.

  

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97C5L Registered since 05th Oct 2008Tue 21-Oct-08 04:58 AM
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#4. "RE: 3 flash setup"
In response to Reply # 2


US
          

HBB,

Thanks for taking the time to respond. I will try the manual settings after I experiment with the CLS. Manually I should be able to include the SB50DXs in the mix of things.

I've used the on-board flash to fire and control the SB800 and one SB600 before but will try your suggestion by mounting the 800 on the camera. Just seems such a waste to use the 800 that way.

I've also been reading about using an umbrella well behind the camera to use as fill and will see if I can use the 800 that way also.

Kurt

--When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.-- Edmund Burke

  

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberTue 21-Oct-08 01:31 PM
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#5. "RE: 3 flash setup"
In response to Reply # 0


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>I recently bought the Impact umbrella kit consisting of 2
>32" umbrellas and added a 45" Photoflex umbrella to
>the mix. My idea is to have a fairly portable lighting kit
>for portraits of family and friends at their homes or mine. I
>do not have a background yet and thought about using a system
>of sticks in cans filled with concrete I found on youtube and
>maybe a gray cloth to start out with.
>I have a D300, an SB800, 2 SB600s and 2 SB50DXs. I'm going to
>be experimenting with this setup using Nikons legendary CLS
>system.
>My first "assignment" is to take pictures of a 3
>month old baby.
>I'm wondering if anyone has a similar setup or suggestions,
>dos and don'ts on how to use what I have. Thanks for your
>time.

I use two remote flashes in umbrellas all the time. Sometimes I use the built-in commander, but I like to use an SB-800 as the commander because (as HBB said) it is much easier to change settings on. The SB-800 will also allow you to add a third flash group, as a hair light or background light and adjust its power individually. The D300 pop-up Commander can only control two groups. I also use a Gary Fong Light Sphere diffuser on my SB-800 Commander and allow it to contribute slightly to add a catch-light in the eyes.

If you set your umbrellas at 45 degrees from the camera, the commander works great to set lighting ratios. The TTL power levels you set on the commander will be result in quite accurate lighting ratios. For instance, if you want a 3:1 ratio, just turn one of the two flashes down by -1.7 ev. If you want a 4:1 ratio turn one down by -2.0 ev.

Also, make sure to adjust the flashes in the umbrellas so that light goes just to the edge of the umbrellas but doesn't spill over, because that just wastes flash power. You can tell by looking at the umbrellas as you fire the flash.

Don't forget the 'modeling' function on your camera. It will help you avoid unwanted facial shadows. It's not as good as a real modeling light, but it works pretty well once you practice using it.

And always position the flash body in the umbrella adapter so that its small red round IR window is pointed toward the commander. This means mounting one of the SB-600s backwards and rotating the head by 180 degrees in your umbrella. In a small studio with light colored walls, you may get enough bouncing where this will not be necessary, but in a large room, it is essential. Your remote flashes simply will not fire in a large room unless the IR window is pointed at the commander. Use your test button to check all of your flashes before taking any shots.

Russ
http://russmacdonald.smugmug.com/
http://NikonCLSPracticalGuide.blogspot.com/

  

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97C5L Registered since 05th Oct 2008Thu 23-Oct-08 04:14 AM
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#6. "RE: 3 flash setup"
In response to Reply # 5


US
          

Arkayem, Thanks for taking the time to respond. Very useful information.
Last night I set up a small studio in my dining room of all places and made my daughter and my wife take turns sitting on a hard stool. I will spend the next few days going thru the photos to see what worked and what didn't. I did notice that virtually all my shots were exactly one stop under exposed according to the histograms. Also found out that the 50mm 1.8 is very sharp but has a very shallow DOF wide open.
I'm learning ...

--When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.-- Edmund Burke

  

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberThu 23-Oct-08 12:01 PM
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#7. "RE: 3 flash setup"
In response to Reply # 6


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>Arkayem, Thanks for taking the time to respond. Very useful
>information.
>Last night I set up a small studio in my dining room of all
>places and made my daughter and my wife take turns sitting on
>a hard stool. I will spend the next few days going thru the
>photos to see what worked and what didn't. I did notice that
>virtually all my shots were exactly one stop under exposed
>according to the histograms.

When shooting flash portraits, you should always use TTL and not TTL-BL, and you should check your histogram for each new subject and adjust the flash compensation to make it the way you want it. I also darken the room so the flash is primary on the subject without interference from ambient light.

Flash shots of people using flash compensation at 0.0 often come out slightly underexposed, for a couple of reasons. First, the system is trying to protect you from blown faces. That's the one thing you can't fix in post processing. Second, if comeone is wearing a dark shirt, his/her face will often blow out if you shoot an upper torso shot where the dark shirt fill most of the frame. By underexposing slightly, the system helps protect you from this. However if you are shooting tight on a very light (white) face, and the cloths are also light, then the shot will always underexpose as the flash metering system tries to make it 18% gray.

Of course, these things are a much bigger problem when shooting quickly at a party than for studio work where you always have time to check the histogram.

Also, the pixels from a face don't belong all the way to the right on a histogram. In a studio shot, Caucasian face pixels are often the brightest pixels in the image, hence the rightmost part of the histogram. Caucasian faces look most natural if the pixels are positioned just barely into the fourth quartile. African American faces vary quite a bit, but usually look best positioned toward the center of the histogram.

And watch basic face colors. A reddish looking face with red hair often blows out. Whenever I see that situation I turn the flash down one full stop before taking a shot. A dark face like African American will cause the exposure to go way up, and the histogram will look OK, but this is wrong. The face pixels are often too far to the right and doesn't look right. Then, you have to turn down your flash compensation even though the histogram looks right. This can be fixed in post processing very nicely as well.

A caucasian wearing a white dress (like a bride) will cause the camera to underexpose by at least a stop. I usually start with flash compensation at -1.7 ev.

Lastly, if you always shoot raw, you have far more adjustment latitude in post processing, and it should be very easy to brighten all of your images using Photoshop Levels or whatever your software uses for that function.

I usually shoot all my shots slightly underexposed just to avoid the dreaded blown face!

Russ
http://russmacdonald.smugmug.com/
http://NikonCLSPracticalGuide.blogspot.com/

  

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