Flash Umbrella Info?

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by Jim Redelfs, Dec 8, 2006.

  1. Jim Redelfs

    Jim Redelfs Guest

    Every time I look into light stands, umbrellas and the like, I am seriously
    intimidated by my IGNORANCE!! ARGH!!

    I thought I would purchase a second Canon Speedlite 580EX

    <http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controller?act=ModelDetailAct&fcategoryid=14
    1&modelid=10514>

    the Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2

    <http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controller?act=ModelDetailAct&fcategoryid=14
    1&modelid=8304>

    a couple umbrellas and stands and have some fun with my 20D.

    But there's SO MUCH stuff out there, where do I begin?

    Do I want an umbrella/light kit WITH a strobe?

    If yes, do I "need" the above Speedlite and transmitter?

    Should I start out with ONE umbrella or just get two and be done with it?

    If there's a FAQ you can point me to, I will humbly RTFM. TIA
     
    Jim Redelfs, Dec 8, 2006
    #1
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  2. Jim Redelfs

    chasfs Guest

    Hi Jim,

    I suggest you get a kit with 2 stands, 2 monolights and 2 umbrellas.
    Something like: http://www.alienbees.com/digi.html

    For a single portrait set up one flash high, aimed at subjects face,
    max power, and well to one side of the camera. Put the camera on a
    tripod, so the lens is even with the subjects eyes. Set the other
    flash close to the camera, but on the other side of the camera from the
    first flash. This flash should be at lower power than the first and at
    camera height. Adjust the power of the flashes so the side flash casts
    a triangular shadow of the nose, and the flash near the camera fills
    that area in so it isn't too dark. Since you can experiment for free
    with your 20D, you don't really need a flashmeter.

    Also see:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/studio-photography
    http://www.google.com/search?q=+portrait+flash+tutorial

    Good luck!

    Peace,
    -chasfs
    http://chasfs.com
     
    chasfs, Dec 8, 2006
    #2
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  3. Diff. strokes, and all: I'd be inclined to not invest in fixed strobes,
    unless you are sure you'll stick with studio type photography, and
    instead get the 580EX and one of the smaller but new Canon flashes,
    which would obviate getting the transmitter for less than a hundred more
    than the transmitter, and gives off light as well as triggering the
    slave. My understanding is that the two flashes can be both used in ETTL
    mode, with one stopped down to act as fill or secondary light, but I
    haven't done that yet with my 550 and 580. I was even considering
    getting the 430 or 200 something to mount on the camera, to trigger both
    the others, but haven't yet.

    Do you have a decent flash currently?
     
    John McWilliams, Dec 8, 2006
    #3
  4. Jim Redelfs

    Jim Redelfs Guest

    Canon Speedlite 580EX

    I paid a pretty penny for the "official" (mated?) flash when I made the switch
    from my T90 to digital. (It sure hurts to walk away from collection of nice
    "glass". <sigh>)

    I would like to get as much bang for my buck, considering I'm already invested
    in the Canon Speedlite. If acquiring another 580EX would be a good thing,
    even if a bit more expensive than an alternative, I'm interested.

    So, if I get a second 580EX, I *DON'T* need the transmitter? [scratching head]

    I DO appreciate the info.
     
    Jim Redelfs, Dec 9, 2006
    #4
  5. Jim Redelfs

    Jay Beckman Guest

    Jim, I feel your pain times two!

    I've decided to go "hybrid" and add a film scanner so that I can enjoy the
    benefitis of both formats.
    I have an EOS 20D and good EF L glass but I still want to take both my T90s
    out and shoot slides.
    You can slave off-camera flash units to an on-camera flash unit, or you can
    get the infrared xmitter and slave multiple off-camera flash units to the
    xmitter on your hot shoe. I have the infrared remote control head but
    sometimes I just just slave my 430EX to my 580EX.

    HTH,

    Jay Beckman
    Chandler, AZ
    www.pbase.com/flyingphotog
     
    Jay Beckman, Dec 9, 2006
    #5
  6. Jim Redelfs

    The Maverick Guest

    If you go with studio strobes then it's very hard to set up flash
    lighting in the field.

    If you go with the 580's then you can use them either in the studio or
    out in the field - score one for the 580's.

    Studio strobes don't work with the camera's E-TTL flash metering - so
    it's "manual all the way" - score two for the 580's.

    You can get inexpensive brackets that allow you to beam a 580 into an
    umbrella on a tripod - the only downside is that the 580 on the tripod
    must be able to see the 580 (or speedlite transmitter) on the camera -
    inside it's not such an issue as the signal will bouce around the walls
    quite nicely, but outside (especially if you've got an umbrella between
    the transmitter and receiver) then you'll likely strike problems.

    By the way, the speedlight transmitter and the 580 used as a
    transmitter (master) communicate in different ways - the first via
    infra-red, the 2nd via the pre-flash. For this reason a 580 used as a
    transmitter generally has a better range.

    With this in mind, you'll now understand why the 580 zooms to 24mm as
    soon as you switch it to master mode. Additionally, if you set the
    custom function on the master 580 to tell it not to fire, it still
    fires the pre-flash (this one has people scratching their heads a bit).

    For what it's worth I've now got 3 580's (heading towards 5 all up) -
    great units.
     
    The Maverick, Dec 9, 2006
    #6
  7. That's kee-rect. It'll be Slave or Master with another 580, a 550, or
    430, for starters. The transmitters are incorporated in these units, and
    with the transmitter a tad over $200, you can get a transmitter via, say
    a 430 for about a hundred bills more. Something I am considering, but
    haven't sprung for. I already have the 550 and 580 as I mentioned, and
    still have a way to go to maximize their use.

    ==
    john

    I know that you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm
    not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
     
    John McWilliams, Dec 9, 2006
    #7
  8. Jim Redelfs

    Jim Redelfs Guest

    I know a thank-you (alone) is poor form but...

    Thank-you for taking the time to post detail about the multiple-580
    flash/transmitter system. I will be getting another 580EX.
     
    Jim Redelfs, Dec 9, 2006
    #8
  9. Jim Redelfs

    Pat Guest

    The 580ex makes a very compact flash system that will fit in your bag.
     
    Pat, Dec 9, 2006
    #9
  10. I would suggest buying proper studio flash with a modeling lamp. You are
    working blind with flash units like the 580EX et al.
     
    Not Disclosed, Dec 10, 2006
    #10
  11. Jim Redelfs

    Jim Redelfs Guest

    OK. I can understand that.

    However, isn't "working blind" significantly mitigated with digital, given the
    immediate feedback of "chimping" the LED display and/or the histogram?

    Just getting another 580EX will strain my budget. It will be a long time
    before, if ever, I wish to build a working studio. It's NOT out of the
    question, though.

    I can just "see" me setting-up an umbrella or two, on the spur of the moment,
    to do an impromptu session with a grandchild that's willing to sit JUST LONG
    ENOUGH for Grandpa to get his sh*t together. Heck, I could see standing the
    other flash on the piano just to mitigate harsh shadows. I think I would get
    more "mileage" out of a second dedicated flash. Thanks for your words.
     
    Jim Redelfs, Dec 10, 2006
    #11
  12. Don't forget the use of reflectors for the fill in, shadow mitigation.

    And another factor that may seem counter intuitive: The closer your
    softbox, or umbrella (shooting through it, not bouncing) the softer the
    light will be.
     
    John McWilliams, Dec 11, 2006
    #12
  13. Jim Redelfs

    Alan Browne Guest


    Very good portraits can be done with a single umbrella and yield very
    good results. Better is to have two umbrellas with two lights.

    A basic two light portrait setup can be done with flashes set to manual
    power levels, not TTL. This will aid in consistent exposures across a
    bunch of shots and clothing changes. It helps to have a flash meter to
    set the fill and key light but with a digital camera you can "converge"
    to a proper setting with a few test shots.

    It's 'better' to use studio strobes such as AlienBees, but a couple high
    end speedlites are just as good.

    Good camera stores usually have a variety of brackets to mount your
    camera flash on a stand with an umbrella.

    The most basic setup is for the fill light to be near the camera and
    shining down the lens axis towards the subject.
    They keylight usually above shoulder height and at an angle to the lens
    axis (30 - 60 degrees).

    Avoid key or fill lighting from getting at the lens

    The key light should expose whites as white and the fill light should
    expose whites as greys. Set each light separately. The more "grey" the
    fill light, the greater the key:fill ratio. Whites should not be burned
    out.

    If the key light is half the distance to the subject as the fill, and
    they're both at the same power setting, then you will have something
    close to a pleasing basic portait lighting ratio.

    IMO the better umbrellas are the "shoot through" type, not the refelctor
    type. You can usually pick up some shootthroughs at a used camera shop
    or swap event for 5 - 10 $.

    For about $40 you can add an AC strobe to put behind the subject and
    light up the background. Backgrounds can be overlit by up to 2 stops or
    underlit by a stop or more. With an AC strobe and an old can, a spot
    can be projected on the BG to backframe the subject.

    Antother $40 and a rim or hairlight is made...

    (Note: these lights slave off of the master, so in digital TTL/preflash
    they will fire on the preflash. You need to fire the master in manaul
    mode with all lights at manual power levels. Note that this, once set
    up, leads to consistency in exposure).

    Have fun.
     
    Alan Browne, Dec 28, 2006
    #13
  14. *Important* both lights should be on the same side of the camera (no
    crosslighting).
     
    Randall Ainsworth, Dec 28, 2006
    #14
  15. Could you please elaborate?
     
    John McWilliams, Dec 28, 2006
    #15
  16. Could someone expound a tad on this? Agree or disagree, I'd like to
    learn more.
     
    John McWilliams, Jan 2, 2007
    #16
  17. When you're doing portraiture, you don't want lights on opposite sides
    of the camera (unless it's some sort of accent light). You want to
    create the illusion of a single light source, just as you'd find in
    nature. Cross-lighting is very amateurish and rarely flattering.

    For more information, go to http://jzportraits.home.att.net. The
    samples are very dated looking, but the principles are the basics of
    professional portrait photography.
     
    Randall Ainsworth, Jan 3, 2007
    #17
  18. Thanks for the reply and link. I have some real reading to do.

    But on the surface, it appears that this goes counter to most recent
    guides I have read, with the fill light, ca. -1 (one) stop, on the
    opposite side of the main. But, intuitively, I like your approach.
     
    John McWilliams, Jan 3, 2007
    #18
  19. Cross-lighting is fine if you're copying an old photograph, but that's
    all it's good for. Joe Zeltsman's tutorials give you the basics.
     
    Randall Ainsworth, Jan 3, 2007
    #19
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