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TomNanos
10-11-2006, 01:03 PM
OK, here's the deal. My youngest daughter's birthday party is Saturday, and my wife painted a backdrop for the pictures (Cinderella's castle on a tanish muslin), and wants to take all the girl's pictures in front of the backdrop. This will be taking place in our living room, which has white walls & ceiling. Not really having the time to play around with things, which way sounds better:

1. Use my 420EX and bounce it off of the ceiling, using FEC as needed.

or

2. Borrow one monolight with a softbox and use the 420EX on an optical slave to light the backdrop.

Being the outdoors shooter, I'm kinda torn on this. I don't want to borrow the equipment if I don't have to.

Thoughts, suggestions? Even if you've got a better idea, I'm game....

Thanks
Tom

Orgnoi1
10-11-2006, 01:14 PM
Honestly either way you go the shots are going to be good... probably better then a heck of a lot... if you have the opportunity I would borrow the softbox and light... and at a minimum you get some practice using one... as well as doing the lighting "properly"...

zacker
10-11-2006, 01:15 PM
one strobe and a white reflector should do it. or try a test onyour wife or kids with just a bounced of the roof shot! ( sorry didnt wanna spell ceiling...but i just did anyway huh?) my ghetto lighting works wonders! just a Nikon SB-25 into a whit umbrella and my 420EX doing the same.. works great. whens the party?

TomNanos
10-11-2006, 01:56 PM
Thanks guys. I may just go for the easy way with the 420EX off the ceiling. Or maybe I'll just borrw my brother in-law's 580EX and use the 420 as a slave....probably easier setup, and less chance of breaking when a 3 year old knocks it over. :D

Craig - party's this Saturday afternoon....

convergent
10-11-2006, 02:05 PM
Tom,

If you have a backdrop that you want to show, I think you need to put some light on it. If you don't its likely to be too dark or have shadows on it. Also, your pictures will also be pretty flat if you just bounce the flash.

If you ar shooting individual pictures, ideally you'd want to get your primary light off 45 degrees to one side, and then use some white fibercore as a reflector on the opposite side. Then you can put the other flash between the subject and the backdrop, in the floor and aimed up.

If you are taking pictures of multiple kids in a group, then you want to go with flatter light to prevent shadows on the backdrop.... so probably going on camera and bouncing would be your best bet... still using the other flash on the backdrop.

convergent
10-11-2006, 02:08 PM
One more comment and what I said. My comments are assuming that you are lighting the scene with flash, and not just using the flash for fill while using ambient as your primary lighting.

TomNanos
10-11-2006, 02:25 PM
Tom,

If you have a backdrop that you want to show, I think you need to put some light on it. If you don't its likely to be too dark or have shadows on it. Also, your pictures will also be pretty flat if you just bounce the flash.

If you ar shooting individual pictures, ideally you'd want to get your primary light off 45 degrees to one side, and then use some white fibercore as a reflector on the opposite side. Then you can put the other flash between the subject and the backdrop, in the floor and aimed up.

If you are taking pictures of multiple kids in a group, then you want to go with flatter light to prevent shadows on the backdrop.... so probably going on camera and bouncing would be your best bet... still using the other flash on the backdrop.

Thanks, Mike! It's most likely going to be one or two kids at a time. I'm kinda leaning towards borrowing a 580EX and using my 420 for the background. The more I think about setting up a monolight on a stand, the more I think about the kids running around, potentially knocking it over. There will be about 12 2-5 year olds running amok....

CruzinGirl
10-11-2006, 02:41 PM
Ok, now I'm just curious....if I had the room I would set this up and try it....

If you don't have the money for indoor lighting systems, would it work to essentially build a huge light box? By this I mean, have the backdrop, hang a white sheet on either side of it and then use lights outside the "box" on either side to filter through the sheets and light the area (say those work flood lights for instance...you know the ones that you have out in the garage with the clamp bottoms that you use when you are remodeling or something). It sounds like it should work, and I'm sure you would have to play with the positioning of the lights outside the sheets.

What do you think Mike? Something feasable or am I coming up with another hairbrained idea?

convergent
10-11-2006, 03:02 PM
Thanks, Mike! It's most likely going to be one or two kids at a time. I'm kinda leaning towards borrowing a 580EX and using my 420 for the background. The more I think about setting up a monolight on a stand, the more I think about the kids running around, potentially knocking it over. There will be about 12 2-5 year olds running amok....

Just make sure that you test to make sure that the 580 can talk to the 420 where it will be placed... which is behind the kids, in the floor, aimed in the other direction. If I'm not mistaken, the wireless control on the Canon flashes is pretty close to line of site. You may need to use mirrors or something if it isn't working. In a pinch, if all else fails, you could try putting it off camera on one side, aiming it at an angle at the backdrop, but I think that will give you a weird lighting look.

TomNanos
10-11-2006, 03:08 PM
Just make sure that you test to make sure that the 580 can talk to the 420 where it will be placed... which is behind the kids, in the floor, aimed in the other direction. If I'm not mistaken, the wireless control on the Canon flashes is pretty close to line of site. You may need to use mirrors or something if it isn't working. In a pinch, if all else fails, you could try putting it off camera on one side, aiming it at an angle at the backdrop, but I think that will give you a weird lighting look.

Thanks - I've played with it a bit in the past, and I think you're right - it is mostly line of sight. I do have an optical slave I can plug the 420 into if need be, but I'll lose TTL on both units (I'll have to put the 580 in manual mode so the preflash doesn't trigger the slave).

convergent
10-11-2006, 03:11 PM
Ok, now I'm just curious....if I had the room I would set this up and try it....

If you don't have the money for indoor lighting systems, would it work to essentially build a huge light box? By this I mean, have the backdrop, hang a white sheet on either side of it and then use lights outside the "box" on either side to filter through the sheets and light the area (say those work flood lights for instance...you know the ones that you have out in the garage with the clamp bottoms that you use when you are remodeling or something). It sounds like it should work, and I'm sure you would have to play with the positioning of the lights outside the sheets.

What do you think Mike? Something feasable or am I coming up with another hairbrained idea?

You can certainly do lighting that way, no doubt. I've played with shop lights in the past. A couple of things to note though... first off is they get incredibly hot... to the point of being a fire hazard. That wouldn't be good with a lot of toddlers running around, as you could almost guarantee that someone would get a burned finger, if not worse. That will definitely put a sting in your photoshoot.

To light a backdrop, you are going to want to focus the light directly on the backdrop, without it spilling all over the place. The use of sheets like you described would probably make it really hard to aim the lights. For a backdrop, you could actually just use the light directly... aiming it from the floor up on the backdrop. However, if you are also using a flash on the camera, then you are going to have some white balance issues because the color temperature of the shop light is dramatically different than a flash. Its generally best to stick with one type of lighting unless you are going for a creative effect.

Now, what I think could work... although it would be a little bit unsafe... would be to use one shop light aimed directly at the backdrop from the floor, and then take a couple of the shoplights like you described and mount them up about 6' in the air and shoot them through a white sheet as your primary light source. That could work, as you have created a big softbox, and then lit the background. You would need to make sure the sheet was white, of course, or it would introduce a color cast on the picture. My only question is if these produce enough light to overcome the ambient lighting. When I was fooling with shop lights, I was able to turn the ambient lights off completely, so that I didn't have to overcome them. With little kids, you need to leave the lights on.

In general, people and hot lights are not a good mix... and if the people are little kids, that is even a bigger issue.

convergent
10-11-2006, 03:18 PM
Thanks - I've played with it a bit in the past, and I think you're right - it is mostly line of sight. I do have an optical slave I can plug the 420 into if need be, but I'll lose TTL on both units (I'll have to put the 580 in manual mode so the preflash doesn't trigger the slave).

You don't really need TTL for the background light. I generally use full power when I'm doing it with studio strobes (for the backdrop light), and shoot through a grid that holds colored gels. I would just put it on manual, use the optical slave, and set it at 1/2 or full power to start. You may also want to use the wide angle diffuser on it to spread the light out over the backdrop. With a muslin, you generally want the center brighter so that it creates separation, and you may not want that effect. The important thing is that it will be placed and aimed out of site (behind the subject), so if it blows out a spot where the center hits, you shouldn't see it since it will be hitting a spot on the backdrop that is out of view.

The only downside of this approach is that all the MWCs (Moms With Cameras) will be triggering your backdrop flash when they fire their point and shoots. That may be a problem... not sure. Could cause it not to be ready when you are ready to shoot... or, could cause it to mess up their pictures too. If you wanted to have some fun with everyone, you could shoot manual and setup your camera so that your flash totally ovecomes ambient. Then it could cause a really bizarre look if the backlight strobe goes off when your other folks are taking their pictures with their own cameras. I actually read about a thread by a wedding photographer on DPR that did this with his strobes intentionally so that it messed up everyone elses pictures except his. Nice guy, huh?

I think I'd tell everyone to wait until you were done, and then turn off the background strobe before they shoot.

TomNanos
10-11-2006, 03:23 PM
You don't really need TTL for the background light. I generally use full power when I'm doing it with studio strobes (for the backdrop light), and shoot through a grid that holds colored gels. I would just put it on manual, use the optical slave, and set it at 1/2 or full power to start. You may also want to use the wide angle diffuser on it to spread the light out over the backdrop. With a muslin, you generally want the center brighter so that it creates separation, and you may not want that effect. The important thing is that it will be placed and aimed out of site (behind the subject), so if it blows out a spot where the center hits, you shouldn't see it since it will be hitting a spot on the backdrop that is out of view.

Thanks Mike. I'll give this a whirl.



The only downside of this approach is that all the MWCs (Moms With Cameras) will be triggering your backdrop flash when they fire their point and shoots. That may be a problem... not sure. Could cause it not to be ready when you are ready to shoot... or, could cause it to mess up their pictures too. If you wanted to have some fun with everyone, you could shoot manual and setup your camera so that your flash totally ovecomes ambient. Then it could cause a really bizarre look if the backlight strobe goes off when your other folks are taking their pictures with their own cameras. I actually read about a thread by a wedding photographer on DPR that did this with his strobes intentionally so that it messed up everyone elses pictures except his. Nice guy, huh?

I think I'd tell everyone to wait until you were done, and then turn off the background strobe before they shoot.
Probably don't need to worry about this. It's all family, and everyone knows I'm the guy who knows what he's doing, so they'll just sit back and ask for JPEGs later... :D

zacker
10-11-2006, 03:25 PM
actually Kim, thats a great idea, as long as the lights are bright enough to evenly light up the space and they dont catch the white sheets on fire..lol But that might make for a dramatic photo in the end....lol

convergent
10-11-2006, 03:38 PM
Probably don't need to worry about this. It's all family, and everyone knows I'm the guy who knows what he's doing, so they'll just sit back and ask for JPEGs later... :D

And if you tell them your strobes will mess up their pictures, and that you'll give them the JPEGs, then they will have no need to mess with it.

One thing to consider to save yourself a lot of time later is to bring a little snapshot printer to pop out some 4x6 prints on the spot... then you don't have to mess with sending people stuff later... and the kids will absolutely love it!!!!

CruzinGirl
10-11-2006, 03:38 PM
lol....hey, I come up with ideas that can really seem out there....I think it might actually work though...for a situation like Tom is talking about I would think that something like this would be unsafe though, unless you had the lights mounted on something sturdy and the room was roped off except for the kids being shot.

Thanks for the feedback...now I have something to think on too!

TomNanos
10-11-2006, 03:48 PM
One thing to consider to save yourself a lot of time later is to bring a little snapshot printer to pop out some 4x6 prints on the spot... then you don't have to mess with sending people stuff later... and the kids will absolutely love it!!!!
Way ahead of you there...actually, the shoot is happening in my living room, right where my workstation is... ;) (yes, it's in the living room - I'm still building the 2nd floor of our house) I'll probably do a nice 13x19 of the birthday girl to start out with.... :D

CruzinGirl
10-11-2006, 03:51 PM
So what your saying is your living room doubles as your studio??? lol

TomNanos
10-11-2006, 03:52 PM
So what your saying is your living room doubles as your studio??? lol
Yep. :D

Basement is unfinished, and houses the model railroad...and other assorted crap that I've accumulated over the years... :D ;)

CruzinGirl
10-11-2006, 03:56 PM
Growing up, we had a semi-finished unfinished basement....basically there was a carpet on the floor in a section and all of our toys in one area, the atari set up by an old couch in another area, a little workshop-ish area for my dad and the laundry area....it was awesome, and escape from the rest of the house and much cooler to play in teh summer!

I can't wait to get my own place in the spring and let it "develop"....i have a feeling a whole area will be devoted to my photography cause if I don't I'll just be complaining about it anyways, lol.