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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    794

    Single flash low light portraiture

    Hey guys, how are you lot doing?

    One of my clients booked me for an event I've never done before and I'm a little stumped.

    They want a portrait taken of each of their 200 odd staff members. Normally, this wouldn't be such a big issue, but it's going to be either pretty dark or very shoddy light.


    I've only taken my SB-600 out of the box yesterday to play around with it, so it still confuses me.

    The only other light source I have is a spot light(warm = tungsten?) which I use for my automotive photography.

    Now my questions are as follows:

    1.) I reckon fire the speed light 45 degrees to the side and built in flash lightly to get rid of most harsh shadows?

    2.) Can I use the spot light to kill the shadows the speed light creates on the background?

    3.) Do I use the diffuser on the SB-600

    4.) Do I go full auto on both or how does this TTL thing work?

    5.) Are there any tricks (camera or flash) I should know to get the best possible portrait?

    5.) If Spongebob Squarepants wears one of Snowwhite's dwarfes pants, will he be known as Spongebob Grumpy pants?


    Thanks guys
    My Savior, My Leader, My Father and My Shepard.
    I praise thee Lord All Mighty


    D700/Nikkor 14-24mm 2.8/Nikkor 24-70mm 2.8/Sigma 70-300mm 4-5.6 APO/ Nikkor 50mm 1.8

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    793
    I think your best bet with what you've got is to find a room with white walls, angle the subject 45 degrees to a wall and bounce the SB600 off that wall. Use the SB600 off camera of course. There is no need to use the built-in diffuser on the SB600 as it is only needed for wideangle lenses. If there are windows on one side you could use that light as a bit of fill. Or if you wanted to use the spot light as fill then you would need to gel the flash with a CTO or CTS gel (orange gel to match the colour of the tungsten spotlight). The spotlight could also be bounced off the opposite wall to the flash as a bit of fill so the shadows aren't completely dark.

    If you don't have access to such a room you could always find some big pieces of white styrofoam boards and bounce off them. I'd use the flash in manual mode as all the subjects will be in the same spot every time so you don't need to change the power.
    Nikon D700 | SB600 | SB-80DX | 2xSB-26 | 18-35 f/3.5-4.5 | 24-85 f/3.5-4.5G | 50 f/1.4 G | 105 f/2.8 VR | 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 VR

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    794
    Ahhh, taht makes a whole lot of sense. Thank you. I don't think I'll be able to get a white walled room, but I might be able to build some make shift reflectors.

    When using the flash in manual, is it purely done by feeling or is there a set of rules I should go by. I'm not big on rules
    My Savior, My Leader, My Father and My Shepard.
    I praise thee Lord All Mighty


    D700/Nikkor 14-24mm 2.8/Nikkor 24-70mm 2.8/Sigma 70-300mm 4-5.6 APO/ Nikkor 50mm 1.8

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    God's Country - Australia
    Posts
    10,424
    how much time will you have to prepare the room ? if you have time i'd take the spotlights with you and try and diffuse them somehow. either by tryign a white sheet in front of them or just aiming them at the walls/ rear of individual to cut down on rear shadows.

    i'd also consider makign a whaletail type bounce card for the sb600 out of white cardboard and using an elastic band to attach to the head of the speedlight.
    D800e l V3 l AW1 l 16-35 l 35 l 50 l 85 l 105 l EM1 l 7.5 l 12-40 l 14 l 17 l 25 l 45 l 60 l 75
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    794
    Thanks for the tips Rooz.

    I should have a good few hours to prepare the room.

    I was also thinking of aiming the spots at the rear wall, but wouldn't the difference in colour temperature play havoc on the white balance?
    My Savior, My Leader, My Father and My Shepard.
    I praise thee Lord All Mighty


    D700/Nikkor 14-24mm 2.8/Nikkor 24-70mm 2.8/Sigma 70-300mm 4-5.6 APO/ Nikkor 50mm 1.8

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Brisbane, CA
    Posts
    3,591
    Quote Originally Posted by anco85 View Post
    I was also thinking of aiming the spots at the rear wall, but wouldn't the difference in colour temperature play havoc on the white balance?
    If you use both the flash and the spot lights you have to gel the flash so that the color temperature matches between the two. Then you tweak your WB to adjust for the warmer light (tungsten or manual).
    Lukas

    Camera: Anonymous
    I could tell you but I wouldn't want you to get all pissy if it's the wrong brand

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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    794
    Hmmmm. I don't think I'll be able to track down a gel set in time, but I'll try.

    Thanks guys
    My Savior, My Leader, My Father and My Shepard.
    I praise thee Lord All Mighty


    D700/Nikkor 14-24mm 2.8/Nikkor 24-70mm 2.8/Sigma 70-300mm 4-5.6 APO/ Nikkor 50mm 1.8

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    God's Country - Australia
    Posts
    10,424
    use a gel as andrew suggsted above. but really, if they are only going to backlight the wall, the colour temp isnt a big deal at all. they arent going to controbute THAT much to theexposure of the subject. its only really a problem if you have multiple temperature sources of light aiming at the subject. (even then its not that big a deal to be honest)
    D800e l V3 l AW1 l 16-35 l 35 l 50 l 85 l 105 l EM1 l 7.5 l 12-40 l 14 l 17 l 25 l 45 l 60 l 75
    flickr

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    794
    Ahhhh, I see. So only if I have a a cool and warm light focused on the same spot will it make a real difference.

    What would be the easiest way to "dim" my spots? They get pretty hot and might set fire to a towel
    My Savior, My Leader, My Father and My Shepard.
    I praise thee Lord All Mighty


    D700/Nikkor 14-24mm 2.8/Nikkor 24-70mm 2.8/Sigma 70-300mm 4-5.6 APO/ Nikkor 50mm 1.8

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    London, England
    Posts
    264
    Do u have access to an umbrella and reflector? They are relatively inexpensive and from what I have seen in the nikon creative guide to lighting, can vastly improve posed portraits.
    Nikon D90 | 18-105mm VR | Sigma 10-20mm | Nikon 35mm 1.8G | SB-600/900 | Crumpler Backpack & Shoulderbag

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