Researching on the internet, it seems most if not all discussions for camera mounted flash strobe diffusion center on bouncing the light off the ceiling and/or walls for a softer, more pleasing light on the subject. That's fine and I do that several ways--with my SB-800 diffuser dome box, or using the pull out white card or my own foam card design I made from one of the DIY methods on the web. They all work pretty well. But as designed, most of the light is bounced.
My question is what method and/or product do you use when you are in large dim ballroom type rooms with no white ceilings? Bouncing the light just results in lost light and making your strobe use more power than necessary.
I do a lot of event work and the methods listed above work okay for me, but still, most of the light is wasted as it is thrown up toward the distant dark ceiling, right? I'm not happy with the results when I point my flash head straight at my subject. Any suggestions or comments are appreciated.
#1. "RE: No white walls or ceilings" | In response to Reply # 0
jherrel Nikonian since 08th Apr 2007Mon 29-Mar-10 12:02 PM
You have at least three choices.
1. Use off camera flash with diffusion. Set your flash to REMOTE and control from the camera.
2. Use the flash on camera, but bounce it off a reflector and back to the subject. This requires an assistant or light stand.
3. Use on camera flash with a DembFlipIt or Fong Lightsphere
Nikonian from South Carolina
See the light, capture the essence!
#2. "RE: No white walls or ceilings" | In response to Reply # 0
#3. "RE: No white walls or ceilings" | In response to Reply # 2
Mon 29-Mar-10 03:48 PM | edited Mon 29-Mar-10 03:49 PM by dclarhorn
Thanks John and George. So what you're describing and recommending is what I'm doing now with my diffuser dome or large reflector card? As I mentioned, it does provide good results, although they all work on the principle of bouncing a lot of the light--which is wasted in the large ballroom type setting. From what I see, the Lightsphere and other bounce cards work the same way.
#4. "RE: No white walls or ceilings" | In response to Reply # 3
jherrel Nikonian since 08th Apr 2007Tue 30-Mar-10 08:50 PM
Let me start by saying that the photos on your wbsite look nice to me. I don't understand your concern about wasted light in a large ballroom. You might want to explain this issue.
I am a follower of David Ziser and his off camera lighting. I like it alot. I recently tried the Lightsphere on camera at a wedding/reception and again convinced myself that the off camera lighting is the way to go. You may already know all of this.
To clarify my previous suggestions, my objecttive is to get soft light with shadows and highlights on the subjects. I have plenty of batteries and am not worried about the light that is lost unless it falls where I don't want it. I may need multiple flashes if I am lighting a larger area. By the way, I use 2 SB800s and 1 SB900 controlled by an SU800. I also use Radio Poppers. The key is light direction and diffusion, large diffusion, not a bounce card. However in some circumstances, I don't want soft, I want edgy or rim. In that case, I shoot with or without the SB800 diffusion dome.
My first suggestion was to take the flash off camera in remote mode and shoot through an umbrella. Support the flash and umbrella with a stand or an assistant. So, I am not worried about bounce at all and I am not worried about lighting the room. That would be done in manual by slowing the shutter speed.
Second suggestion was to have the flash on camera, but aim the flash at a large reflector aimed at the subject. This works when the wall or ceiling is too dark or too far away. The reflector size I am talking about is 30+ inches. This effectively requires an assistant.
Nikonian from South Carolina
See the light, capture the essence!
#5. "RE: No white walls or ceilings" | In response to Reply # 4
Wed 31-Mar-10 08:07 PM
John, thanks for the extra info. I certainly agree that off camera flash and large diffusion is preferrable. But, to be more clear about the situation, I'm talking about grabbing shots on the run in large rooms with mobile crowds. This is not a situation where you could even consider umbrellas or multiple lights. It's get the shots and move to get more. I'll be doing my company's national convention once again in May and it's 5 days of shooting in all sorts of poorly lit rooms (for photography anyway) and going from room to room as quickly as possible to cover all the events, seminars and receptions I'm responsible for. We usually get about 2,000 people attending the convention.
I'm thinking that perhaps I'm making too much of an issue about the wasted light. I'm getting the shots okay but had been wondering if there was a better or more efficient way than the way I was doing it. I haven't found much in my research.
#6. "RE: No white walls or ceilings" | In response to Reply # 5
km6xz Nikonian since 22nd Jan 2009Thu 01-Apr-10 07:07 AM
I shoot in similar situations where there are few good bounce surfaces and many shots are taken in an area that precludes using an assistent with a reflector. The ceilings in my venues are usually matte black. If I find decent surfaces to bounce from such as a glass framed poster I can set up several slaves around the perimeter of the area and use those to generally illuminate the area.
I've tried lots of home made diffusers and they all work if appropriate for the shot. Last week I was in California before heading back here to my adopted home in St Petersburg Russia. I visited a couple well stocked camera stores and ended up buying a LightSphere 1/2 Cloud against the recommendations of the shop owner. Since they are not available here I figured I had nothing to lose since I could sell it here for more than I paid for it if it turned out to be a waste of time. I had seen enough people use them and felt they were a gimmick and too expensive for a piece of tupperware. Just after landing I went to a club(not recommended after 36 hours of no sleep traveling) and shot a few hundred shots in a very crowded small club, 200 people in the area of my small living room type crowded. I tried the 1/2 Cloud about 1/2 way through the night that lasted until 7am the next morning.
The very first shot I took using it(other than a few experiments in my apartment when I arrived home) impressed me. The conditions were as bad as they can get and yet the light was very effective.
Here is that first shot:
No post processing except to resize and compressing with medium quality jpg for email size files, no WB or sharpening adjustments with a D90, 50mm @ f/1.8
I am going to test it more this weekend but for these situations where bounce is not going to cut it I think I have found a good tool.
This is all just for fun, not a pro gig, I just shoot for the people in the photos, who seem to enjoy it. You might enjoy a LightSphere also in your shooting conditions.
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