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Does ceiling bounce off camera make a difference?

bounce off camera ceiling

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14 replies to this topic

#1
leighgion

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I found myself doing a serious shoot yesterday (life does the darnest things) to create dossier shots for a couple classy musicians. The venue was a school auditorium that was nice enough, but it proved impossible to turn the stage lighting on. Fortunately, despite not being much of a lighting guy, I'd come prepared and the shoot went better than expected just being lit by my SB-600 perched on a tripod and firing its little heart out at the high ceiling. As I ran around, I'd move the flash to maintain line of sight for CLS and try to more or less keep it in front and off the side of my subjects, though at times it ended up more behind them.

 

At the time, I was just happy things were working, but later I thought about it and started wondering if taking the flash off the camera had made that much difference to the quality of light since I was firing it straight up the entire time.

 

What say the more experienced strobists? Would things have looked notably different if I'd kept the flash on-camera and bounced it the same way?



#2
ScottinPollock

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It all depends... LOL. The reason on camera, forward facing flash looks so disturbing is because the brain is used to seeing light fall on objects from above. But you know that sunlight at high noon (directly from above) is not the most flattering.

 

So it really depends on your distance from the subject and the angle of light hitting the subject. Most folks agree the best results from a single light source would be to have it above and a little to the side of the subject. This creates more depth in the subject's features due to shadows being cast from top to bottom AND side to side rather than just top to bottom.



#3
Merco_61

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Even if you bounce it, it will produce a more natural light when the flash isn't positioned right over the optical axis. Shadows will fall slightly to the side instead of just disappearing behind the subject.



#4
Ron

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You might be a good candidate for something like this....

 

1406577019000_925397.jpg

1381942937000_1005757.jpg

 

Westcott Rapid Box 26" Octa Softbox

 

This kit even includes a lightstand. It's nothing fancy but, as long as you don't need too much height, it gets the job done.

 

--Ron



#5
leighgion

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That’s what I thought, but I needed some reinforcement. Thanks, folks!

Now, let’s see if next time I remember to zoom the flash head. I shot the entire afternoon at that vaulted ceiling with the flash head at 70mm.

#6
morticiaskeeper

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Even putting the flash on a bracket to the side of the lens is an improvement.

If the ceiling is high, I would be tempted to put a deflector on the flash head. If you haven't got one, a sheet of paper and an elastic band will suffice.

A softbox on a tripod is even better, two of them is even better than that! The CLS works fine with the softbox closed up, it just gets a bit iffy if your use them outside.

#7
leighgion

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You might be a good candidate for something like this....

 

Westcott Rapid Box 26" Octa Softbox

 

This kit even includes a lightstand. It's nothing fancy but, as long as you don't need too much height, it gets the job done.

 

--Ron

 

 

I appreciate the suggestion, but I wasn't just being funny when I said life does the darnest things. I'm just an serious amateur. It was a collusion of circumstances (and my willingness to donate my time) that found me being the camera man for a shoot where the results actually matter to somebody. No budget for softboxes and lightstands. 

 

 

Even putting the flash on a bracket to the side of the lens is an improvement.

If the ceiling is high, I would be tempted to put a deflector on the flash head. If you haven't got one, a sheet of paper and an elastic band will suffice.

A softbox on a tripod is even better, two of them is even better than that! The CLS works fine with the softbox closed up, it just gets a bit iffy if your use them outside.

 

Again, appreciate the suggestions!

 

In spite of not using it much, I still found CLS much more iffy than I expected. I had several failures to trigger, which I suspect had to do with the nature of the stage environment having poor reflectivity even for near IR. Kind of ended up working for me though, since at least one shot looks awesome in part because it's underexposed. 

 

I do need to plan enough in the future to have the materials for a deflector on hand. My brain just doesn't go there and I had not expected that the shoot would completely depend on the flash. While everybody including me is very happy with how the shoot turned out, I can see a deflector probably would have improved many shots.


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#8
leighgion

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I'm still happy with the results of the shoot, but reviewing the shots again... man, was I lucky. I think things look as good as they do in part because the ceiling was so high, so the lighting has a certain directionality even so it's overhead. No catchlights though. Hardly any at all. 



#9
ScottinPollock

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I still found CLS much more iffy than I expected.

 

Been there; done that. I actually gave up on it years ago. I suppose it is ok for folks like PJ's that have no time to set up, but I always get better, more consistent results from manual flash.



#10
leighgion

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Been there; done that. I actually gave up on it years ago. I suppose it is ok for folks like PJ's that have no time to set up, but I always get better, more consistent results from manual flash.


Exposure wasn’t the problem. That came out great long as I compensated for all the black curtains. My problem was failure of the remote flash to trigger.

#11
ScottinPollock

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Exposure wasn’t the problem. That came out great long as I compensated for all the black curtains. My problem was failure of the remote flash to trigger.

I've had that too, along with the "inconsistent" exposure. I moved to radio triggers several years ago and have never looked back.

#12
leighgion

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I've had that too, along with the "inconsistent" exposure. I moved to radio triggers several years ago and have never looked back.


If this was a paying activity, I expect I might consider the same. Alas, I’m just occasionally exploited.

#13
dcbear78

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If bouncing you could have just left it on the camera.

#14
leighgion

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Small selection from the shoot at the artists' own homepage: 

 

fotos



#15
leighgion

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I've had that too, along with the "inconsistent" exposure. I moved to radio triggers several years ago and have never looked back.


Here I am just a few months later with cheap radio triggers. Life’s full of surprises.


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