Need quick flash advice

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Mike Kohary, Jul 29, 2005.

  1. Mike Kohary

    Mike Kohary Guest

    No comments about last minute etc wedding gig this weekend pulled a
    last minute change on me, and switched from all outdoors to having the
    ceremony inside the darkest, dankist church you can imagine. There are all
    of 2 windows, both stained glass, and a few lamps hanging from the ceiling.
    It simply isn't my fault. ;) The clients understand this change may screw
    their ceremony pictures, but I still want to give it my best shot.

    (No comments about how I should have been prepared anyway, either, since I
    specialize in OUTDOOR weddings. :)

    So, I have today and tomorrow to find a decent flash for my Canon 20D,
    because I don't currently own one. This is ok, because I planned to buy one
    soon anyway, and I guess this just spurs me on. It should be suitable for
    portraits, and I'd prefer it connect to my camera's hotshoe, not sit on an
    external tripod (i.e. I want it on-camera). $300-400 or less reasonable?
    Any recommendations? Should I stick with the Canon Speedlite series for
    simplicity's sake? How about the 420EX ($179) or the 580EX ($399)?

    Also need a quick lesson: what's TTL metering? Does that mean the camera
    takes the flash into account when metering the scene? That would be a HUGE
    help if that's the case. Thanks for the help in advance.
    Mike Kohary, Jul 29, 2005
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  2. Mike Kohary

    Rob Novak Guest

    No, you definitely don't want the flash on-camera.

    Either use an offset frame/bracket, or just gorilla-arm the speedlight
    (flash in left hand up and away from the camera, camera body in the
    right) with a sproingy sync-cord attached. You need to get that flash
    away from the axis of the lens. Use a diffuser, too. Otherwise, in
    the dim light with dilated pupils, you're gonna have red-eye like a
    TTL metering in flash-land means that there's a sensor, usually in the
    mirror box, that measures the amount of flash that reflects off the
    film/sensor face, and quenches the flash burst when proper exposure is
    Rob Novak, Jul 29, 2005
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  3. Oh weddings. Now *that's* professional.
    Randall Ainsworth, Jul 29, 2005
  4. Mike Kohary

    Mike Kohary Guest

    Thanks for your input Randall.
    Mike Kohary, Jul 29, 2005
  5. Mike Kohary

    Mike Kohary Guest

    Thanks Rob, you're right and I appreciate the reminder. I will use a
    diffuser and set the flash away from the camera. After some quick research,
    I think the Canon Speedlite 580EX (the more expensive but nicer one) will do
    Mike Kohary, Jul 29, 2005
  6. Mike Kohary

    Colin D Guest

    Any sort of flash, specially on-camera, will yield only the
    shot-in-a-cave type images, no ambience, no background, just
    rabbit-in-the-headlights shots.

    The ambient illumination in the church may be enough to let you shoot at
    1600 or 3200 ISO, even down to maybe 1/4 second (albeit with some noise
    in the image) with IS or a tripod, or even just braced. Take plenty,
    some will be ok, and you will be less obtrusive without a flash. With
    Neat Image you can tame the noise, maybe get really moody, gutsy shots
    which the couple would like a lot better than flash. I would try to get
    into the church as soon as possible - like now - and try with your
    wife/friend/other as stand-in to check results at high ISO.

    If you do go the flash way, you'll need a 580EX (more power, fast
    recycle), or the Sigma equivalent, but they'll cost you most of the
    profit on the job, I should think.

    VERY IMPORTANT POINT: If you use flash, DO NOT use Av or Tv modes, stay
    with Auto. With Auto, the camera will take only the flash into the
    exposure calculation. If you use Av or Tv, the camera will attempt to
    expose for the overall scene and you could find yourself with a surprise
    half-second or longer exposure.

    The Canon cameras use E-TTL metering, that is, the unit fires a
    low-power flash which it uses to measure the exposure, then fires the
    flash at the calculated power for the shot. The time between the
    flashes is very quick, few people realize there are two flashes, though
    in the viewfinder you may see the first flash before the mirror lifts.
    One drawback with this system is that people with a fast blink reflex
    can be caught mid-blink by the exposing flash.

    Remember, amateurs take pictures, professionals make pictures.

    Colin D.

    PS: set the auto-focus to use the center sensor only, use partial
    metering, and get focus on a face, hold the half-pressure and recompose
    before firing. This will hopefully ensure the best exposure. With my
    300D, the partial exposure button will set the exposure for whatever the
    focus point is on (and fire the pre-flash if I am using flash). Then it
    will hold that exposure for up to 16 seconds, allowing me to reframe,
    refocus, and take the shot. I would think a similar procedure would be
    available on the 20D. Try to avoid getting readings from the bride's
    white dress if you can.
    Colin D, Jul 29, 2005
  7. Thanks for your input Randall.[/QUOTE]

    People who do one-light weddings - and charge money for them - should
    be shot.
    Randall Ainsworth, Jul 29, 2005
  8. Ka-ching!
    Randall Ainsworth, Jul 29, 2005
  9. Mike Kohary

    Mike Kohary Guest

    People who do one-light weddings - and charge money for them - should
    be shot.[/QUOTE]

    Helpful as always, Randall.

    Seriously, you're not talking to one of your newbies here. I may have
    been caught unawares on a particular issue, but I know what I'm doing,
    and their pictures are going to turn out just fine regardless. A
    professional is someone who does their best work even when they don't
    feel like it, or in this case, even when a contingency comes up that
    they weren't prepared for. If you don't adapt and adjust, *that's*
    not pro.

    As for one-light weddings, say what? You know a lot of wedding
    photographers who bring in three-point sets to put up in the church?
    "Pardon me minister, while I adjust this key light. Should only take
    a minute." I've never seen a solo wedding photographer with more than
    a single flash, including at my own wedding, which pictures turned out
    just fine. I shoot lots of studio stuff, so I have a full lighting
    rig, but it's all continuous lighting and it would just look stupid in
    the church, don't you think? Not to mention that I think it would be
    overkill. It's a wedding, not the cover of Vogue.

    Anyway, this is all moot. I'm doing the wedding, something came up
    that was unexpected, I explained the pitfalls to the client, they
    accepted that, and now I'm spending money I didn't plan to spend to
    give it my best effort anyway. I don't have to - I advertise as an
    outdoor wedding photog, that's what they hired me for, and it states
    in the contract that any technical limitations imposed on me by any
    outside party are not my responsibility. I could have told them they
    were SOL, but I'm a nice guy, so I'm making it work. And I said not
    to bother bringing it up, so go stand in the corner for being a bad
    boy, you ruffian.
    Mike Kohary, Jul 29, 2005
  10. Mike Kohary

    Mike Kohary Guest

    You and Rob have convinced me not to put the flash on camera. I'll be
    putting the camera on a tripod and holding the flash for formals.
    During the ceremony, I'll "gorilla arm" it, as Rob so eloquently put
    it. ;)
    I've done this, and I think it's iffy, very iffy. This church is
    DARK. I couldn't believe it. I mean, almost all churches suck for
    light, but this one just took the cake. It's why I normally don't
    shoot indoor weddings. But this is a friend of a friend, and they're
    excited to have me do it because they like my other work so well.
    Thanks for the advice though, I may very well take most of it after
    all. I have a day to think about it some more. :)
    It's an 11-hour gig, so it's paying very well. It will eat up some of
    the profit I was expecting, but oh well.
    Thanks. I plan on doing exactly that, because I'm simply not
    practiced enough with a flash to play games with it. That's why I
    wanted to know about TTL metering and such. What I've read elsewhere
    indicates that this particular flash will take meticulous pictures on
    Auto, so that's what I'm going to do (and have already advised the
    clients on).
    Thanks, that's good information to know.
    Indeed. :) I'm not too worried. The church pictures may comprise
    10-20% of the gig, the rest is all outdoors as planned. And you've
    reassured me that maybe the flash isn't necessary after all. I may
    bring it as insurance but end up not using it. I'll make sure to post
    my results here...
    Thanks again, will do. I usually focus and meter on faces, and the
    20D has an almost-spot-meter mode I'll be using (it's what I use for
    all my modeling gigs and it works wonderfully).
    Mike Kohary, Jul 29, 2005
  11. Mike Kohary

    Guest Guest

    You are going to have problems if you use a Canon flash, try to get hold of
    an old Metz (adapter needed) where you can preselect the aperture on the
    flash, set it to 5.6 then on the camera set the aperture to 5.6 and just
    change the shutter speed to take into account the ambient light, 1 stop
    under usually works. Make the shots black and white otherwise you'll end up
    with horrible mixed lighting.
    Guest, Jul 29, 2005
  12. Mike Kohary

    Guest Guest

    People who do one-light weddings - and charge money for them - should
    be shot.[/QUOTE]

    I prefer ambient light weddings,
    Guest, Jul 29, 2005
  13. Mike Kohary

    Alex Guest

    Just FYI only: My sister's friend always has an assistant with her for
    weddings. The assistant is pretty much a light-on-a-stick and
    film-changer. Outside the assistant shades the photographer to prevent
    any kind of flare or reduced contrast from errant sunlight.

    My sister is usually that assistant so she can make some extra dollars
    on the weekends. I believe she gets paid 100$CA for a day's work.
    Alex, Jul 29, 2005
  14. Mike Kohary

    Alex Guest

    Although, for a few experimental shots (once he has the "safe" shots
    out of the way) it may be a good idea. Especially if there are candles
    in the background, the flash will freeze his subjects (bride and
    groom) and a quick twist of the camera will produce light trails
    around them. Or maybe zoom out while keeping the camera as still as
    possible to get radial trails.
    Alex, Jul 29, 2005
  15. Mike Kohary

    Mike Kohary Guest

    Believe me, so do I, so do I...
    Mike Kohary, Jul 30, 2005
  16. Mike Kohary

    Mike Kohary Guest

    Thanks for the advice, but I picked up a Canon 580EX Speedlite, and it's
    wonderful. It took me all of 15 minutes to set up and learn to shoot on
    auto, and the result is terrific (I tested it inside the church). That'll
    be good enough for the few shots inside the church, the rest is all

    After the wedding, I can take the time to really learn this flash - seems
    like there's a lot to dive into!
    Mike Kohary, Jul 30, 2005
  17. Mike Kohary

    Mike Kohary Guest

    I may try a couple of (unimportant) shots like this, it can't hurt. Thanks!
    Mike Kohary, Jul 30, 2005
  18. Mike Kohary

    Guest Guest

    I have the 580ex and find that in ETTL mode it gives incorrect exposure so I
    use it in manual mode.
    Guest, Jul 30, 2005
  19. Believe me, so do I, so do I...[/QUOTE]

    Here in the Pacific Northwest where it rains 9 months out of 12, we
    don't have that luxury. And to do a wedding with just one light is,
    well...amateurish at best.
    Randall Ainsworth, Jul 30, 2005
  20. Mike Kohary

    Mike Kohary Guest

    Whatever Randall. As usual, you have nothing helpful to say, and come off
    as just a grumpy old man.
    Mike Kohary, Jul 30, 2005
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