Wireless Flash Umbrella Placement

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Johnston West, Sep 18, 2003.

  1. At Weddings, I got tired of hauling around my heavy setup of Canon
    Body w 28-70L Lens, Pro-T flash brackett and 550 ex Flash. (It gets to
    you after a few hours.) So for 'Formals', I got a St-E2 Transmiter and
    put the 550 Flash on a Bogen 3086 stand. I also mounted a 27" Umberlla
    on the stand and set the flash to fire backwards into the umbrella,
    with the underside facing the subjects.............This was great,
    because I just had a light Camera that I could hang around my neck,
    and free up my hands when not shooting.

    I set the camera on maual exposeure with 60 shutter speed and 5.6
    aperture and shot away in E-TTL mode. The results were very pleasing.
    Much smoother, more professional lighting. A definate improvement over
    the on camera flash.

    But this was my first try with the setup and I did have some problems.
    I was in a Huge Chruch with 50 ft ceilings, and I was having some
    problems getting the transmitter to "find" the flash. (I did have the
    sensor on the flash facing the camera) So I had to have the
    Flash/Umbrella out in front of me a few feet. It was about 7 feet high
    and about 3 feet to my right side. This was nice dramatic lighting for
    closeups of the Bride and Groom, but with larger groups, the light was
    much too strong on one side.

    But the biggest problem I had was very serious glare and washout on
    the wide angle pictures. They are pretty much ruined........... Would
    a 'hood' have helpled this situation? Was the flash unit too far out
    in front of me, or not high enough? ........... Anyway, if anyone can
    recomend proper placement of the Flash/Umberlla set-up, I would
    greatly appreciate the help.

    Johnston West, Sep 18, 2003
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  2. Without seeing the glare shots we can't really specify too much as to what
    the problem is. A hood would probably help, as it sounds like some spill
    from the bounced flash has hit your front element. Moving the flash would
    help more; does the 550 have a modelling light? Tripping that and looking
    through the finder should reveal any flare in the shot. Also use the zoom
    reflector to zoom in slightly- if the flash is set too wide, a lot of light
    might miss the umbrella.

    As to the flash position, i'd suggest moving the flash further behind, above
    and to one side of you. It is clearly too close to the group subjects to
    illuminate everyone. I'd also recommend, if possible, a second slaved
    flash/umbrella combo symmetrically placed on the other side of you, as I
    don't think you'll reliably get a portable flash to give even illumination
    over that sized group of people.
    Martin Francis, Sep 18, 2003
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  3. Johnston West

    Alan Browne Guest

    Johnston West wrote:

    Communicating with the flash. (wireless-flash/IR based TTL)
    A little bit of strategically placed tin foil will help if it is a
    flash-wireless or IR wireless to act as a reflector and make a "good"
    path. crumple the tin foil slightly and put it a few inches from the
    sensor of the flash head.

    If the flash has tilt and swivel and if you can manage to point the
    sensor part of the flash to something bright (tin foil, light stand
    base) while pointing the flash into the umbrella, then that will do it
    too. (See also note (*) below).

    At any time that a "white" part of the umbrella can be seen by the lens,
    even if not visible in the viewfinder, it will cause flare or at least
    loss of contrast. (even a few square inches of the white part of the
    umbrella seen by the lens is enough for flare to occur)

    a) re-arrange the umbrella to avoid this.
    b) get a longer hood ...not practical with a wide angle.
    c) Near the umbrella put up a light stand and clip a piece of cardboard
    to it to block all direct light from the umbrella.

    (*) I *thought* the Canon wireless-ttl was radio based, not flash or IR
    based. The suggestion above is based on a flash-based (eg: Minolta) or
    IR based (Minolta/others) wireless-TTL control system.

    Alan Browne, Sep 19, 2003
  4. Thank you so much Martin. You bring up some good points........ I
    found that the 550 Flash unit in slave mode defaults to a 24mm Zoom
    position, which may indeed be causing some spill. I can maually set it
    to a less wide setting, which I will do. I will also use a hood, which
    may help....... I would like to put the flash behind me, but this may
    be tricky with the wireless infra-red transmitter, as it needs, to be
    in visual contact if there no walls to bounce the light.

    I'd like to use a second flash unit, but the idea is to stay 'light'.

    But I'm begining to wonder if a softbox may be a better option than
    the umbrella.

    Thanks again Martin.

    Johnston West, Sep 19, 2003
  5. Johnston West

    StillMan Guest

    When my optical slaves are having trouble seeing the main flash, I help them
    a little. I use a clamp-on wide view mirror. It is designed for parents of
    small children to clamp it to the rearview mirror in the car so the entire
    back seat can be seen.

    Your flare may be helped with a bigger lens hood, but probably will require
    the moving of your umbrella.

    Another solution is to carry a sync cord for situations such as this.
    StillMan, Sep 19, 2003
  6. Johnston West

    Snaps! Guest

    SO here's something you might like to try...
    8 years ago I had some publicity shots done of my business. The
    Photojournalist used a 28mm lens on one very tight shot. His flash was
    camera mounted but he used the bounce position with a white reflective card
    taped to the flash... This was enough to produce a nice, softly lit shot. A
    few years later I began experimenting with the technique and discovered
    several things.
    1. Use the 550 pointed at the subject and you'll blow away any subtle
    2. Flip down the "ultra" wide angle diffuser and it's not all that much
    3. Bounce the flash off the ceiling and you get reasonably soft shots.
    4. Tape a white card on the back of the flash so it protrudes about 75~100mm
    above the globe and you get subtly lit shots.
    5. Move the flash off the camera and you begin to mimic a soft box.
    Since then I have had a tinsmith hammer me out a shallow aluminium reflector
    that takes the place of the card. I played around with a lip on the top
    until I harnessed the 'wasted' light going off the top and now I have a
    softbox which isn't!. Try it, you might be surprised.
    Snaps!, Sep 19, 2003
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