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09-18-2018, 08:44 PM - 3 Likes   #16
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Nice idea for a thread, and great examples. One flash in a little soft box can be so very versatile. Hopefully you will inspire a few flashed flowers

I've grown to trust my lighting meter and manual flashes, but p-ttl seems handy. If I had the equipment I'd definitely take some time to learn how to use it to see where or if it would help me. I know I'd love to have the HSS option that also comes with dedicated flashes.

This was a bare flash camera right and up as the main light on the flowers face. I probably overuse the starbust in the background thing, but it's nice that a bit of artificial lighting lets you expose for the sunburst and still put light wherever you want it.




Single small (but up close so relatively large) softbox to the left and somewhat behind the bloom to bring out a bit of the backlit colours like several of the other photos in the thread. This was outside, in a makeshift studio. In other words, I used a random blue object for the background, in this case a decommissioned hospital item labelled "bowel irrigation cart". The blue was pretty, I don't judge the former use.




Here's where HSS would have been lovely. No, an ND filter just wouldn't work, unless you have one I can attach to the 10-17mm fisheye. It would have been nice to have more choice on the aperture than x-sync allows as I wanted to keep the sky detail. But again, flash to the rescue as it let me light up the foreground however I wanted. Advantage small things like flowers - it's relatively easy for a small speedlight to overpower the sun if it can be a few inches away from the subject




09-18-2018, 09:00 PM - 3 Likes   #17
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Thanks Brian, some very creative examples you've shown there! The bare flash looks just right on the first one, as it seems to mimic the starkness of the direct sunlight. There's no doubt you would have fun with some HSS with your low down wide angles, as you could really seize more control over the sky exposure, and as you say, with the flash so close to the subject then power is not too much of a concern.


I've just had a look at Amazon USA, as P-TTL & HSS is so often referred to as an expensive choice ..... one Cactus V6II plus one RF60x flash is $280, with two flashes the total would be $465. That would give you a two flash Radio P-TTL/HSS system with full remote control over flash output, manual power, flash zoom, AF assist, plus a few more specialist features. I'm not sure about US dollars and values, but is that "expensive" for what you get?

---------- Post added 19-09-18 at 04:25 ----------

Here's another one just hot off the (Photoshop) press! ..... From the same recent shoot with the same softbox setup .....








I suppose its easy to think of flower lighting as best kept all softboxy and gentle (it sort of suits many flowers I guess). Brooke make a point earlier about using hard light also, and just like the edgy fashion look for portraits, I suppose it has its uses for flowers too.


I remembered some I took at home, a bought bunch of flowers, and I set up two lights, one soft and one hard, to use the contrast between the two. This was the setup .... beware, it is not recommended to use a makeshift table support like this for any subject that can bruise easily!








And a couple of the results .....














I think I tend to drift towards preferring the totally soft look, but the harder lines and shadows created by hard light is interesting for sure ....

Last edited by mcgregni; 09-18-2018 at 09:27 PM.
09-18-2018, 09:36 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
Here it is very efficient to think mentally in terms of "stops" for both ambient and flash exposures. So I might think I'll keep ambient at -1.0 or -1.5 stops below meter, but then place the flash value at -0.5 ..... This makes the ratio and mix I'm looking for, and it's easy to relate the two as they are thought of in the same units......
Yes. I preach "stops" in my Basic Photography Course as the common denominator for exposure - whether its Light (LC /EV), ISO, Shutter or Aperture. Stops is a way of expressing the same value of change in exposure for four different units of measure. Cloud moves in, its a couple of stops in LV/EV. Change ISO from 100 to 400, two stops. Shutter from 100 to 400, two stops. Aperture from 2.8 to 5.6, two stops. Same exposure but a different picture. In lenses, both in body and in lens image stabilization is rated in stops so the hand held vs tripod equation which affects focus.

The real decision is, which of the approximately six correct exposures is best? That's the thing that tests automation - it doesn't know what you're thinking . Nor can it discriminate how different objects reflect, absorb or transmit light. Which explains the presence of compensation controls on both camera and flashes.

In the follow on Intermediate Course, it's "Stops" as in contrast ratio, loss from diffusers, grids or gels. I've used all the P-TTL and HSS automation from capable Pentax flashes and found myself doing the same amount of adjustment as with non automated flash units. It is likely a chocolate, vanilla, strawberry decision. But I freely admit I am old and curmudgeonly.

Last edited by Brooke Meyer; 09-18-2018 at 10:06 PM.
09-18-2018, 10:07 PM   #19
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Yes, that's a good point, that a "Stop" is actually a common link between a number of different units of measure which have the same practical effect in terms of EV. So one jump in power level is the same as one stop of compensation adjustment. I am seeing it in terms of reference to the exposure indicator on the camera in Manual mode, telling us how far from "centre" our ambient exposure is, and I see an advantage with the mental reckoning of seeing the same relationship for the flash exposure setting, as related to a "meter centre" value.

I understand the point that the variables of reflected light metering mean that "meter centre" is a moving goalpost. Without wanting to start any M vs TTL wars, in my experience I have found that these variables are minimal in practice and with a good bit of experience. I do wonder if sometimes the variables of P-TTL metering are exaggerated in discussions here, often by people who only use M mode ?


I also feel that in the real world, what constitutes a "good / correct" flash exposure level is usually very near to exactly what P-TTL metering provides, give or take some small compensations which we can often anticipate in advance of even taking a test shot. Of course this is not the case for very creative effects, or complex multi-light balancing, where I fully agree that M mode is the best choice. But for these flower shots, and I find for most of my portraits shot outdoors with fairly simple lighting, that P-TTL gets it right first time mostly.


I've said it recently on another thread here, that I think the Cactus XTTL update has brought the practicalities of operating in flash M or TTL modes very close together, so close that there no little difference in the amount of steps needed to nail the shots in either mode. I find however that P-TTL has the advantage for me outdoors when working with ambient light and flash mixing, and when there is any dynamic aspect to things (sun changes, re-positioning etc).

09-19-2018, 04:46 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
I've just had a look at Amazon USA, as P-TTL & HSS is so often referred to as an expensive choice ..... one Cactus V6II plus one RF60x flash is $280, with two flashes the total would be $465. That would give you a two flash Radio P-TTL/HSS system with full remote control over flash output, manual power, flash zoom, AF assist, plus a few more specialist features. I'm not sure about US dollars and values, but is that "expensive" for what you get?
My first flashes were old sunpak 433d's, which were $20-25 (Canadian!) and RF602 radio triggers, which were $20 per receiver/transmitter. It was impossible to beat this value with p-ttl models, especially a decade ago. Over the years I've added a few nikon sb-28's and nikon sb-80dx's (the latter go down to 1/128 power and have built in optical triggers) which were $80-100 and built to last. Starting fresh today, the Cactus would certainly be attractive for what it gives.

You chair-table-vase arrangement seems dangerous if the vase fell on that hard ground. I do see trampoline-chair-table-vase was an option, this might be less steady but would cushion the fall.
09-19-2018, 11:43 AM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
... I remembered some I took at home, a bought bunch of flowers, and I set up two lights, one soft and one hard, to use the contrast between the two. This was the setup .... beware, it is not recommended to use a makeshift table support like this for any subject that can bruise easily! ...
+1 for that support structure.
09-19-2018, 01:03 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
This was the setup .... beware, it is not recommended to use a makeshift table support like this for any subject that can bruise easily!
Nigel takes some great photos of his kids. I am amazed they have managed to survive his "studio".
09-19-2018, 01:35 PM   #23
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Hey ,Brian had a great idea to utilize the trampoline as well .... Watch out for the next thread on lighting for flowers in motion!

09-19-2018, 05:45 PM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by Brooke Meyer Quote
I've used all the P-TTL and HSS automation from capable Pentax flashes and found myself doing the same amount of adjustment as with non automated flash units. It is likely a chocolate, vanilla, strawberry decision. But I freely admit I am old and curmudgeonly.

Ah, so its no longer the Manual vs P-TTL debate .... its the old and bad tempered vs the young and easy going! Well, me at 50yrs, I'll happily stand right in the middle of both camps .... but I'm leaning towards the young side, right ..... and P-TTL, for flowers anyway ......
10-10-2018, 03:22 PM   #25
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Great thread idea Nigel. Enjoying all the tutorials. Keep them coming.
10-11-2018, 10:51 AM   #26
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Thanks Des, this sort of thread does generate some great contributions, and I will keep battling the tide and keep the talk about the photos more than the gear! We all love our new gear and thinking about what we might get next, but I do feel that for many of the folks who ask questions here they often would be better considering technical approaches and means to gain real control over their existing equipment in order to produce photos they will love.

I hope that by showing sone results from the real world (not fancy studio, commercialised stuff) that others might be encouraged to take control over the contrast, lighting direction and quality in their own real world images!
10-16-2018, 12:45 PM   #27
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I was with you that it sould be about the results rather than the gear. But, as a studio photographer Nigel that last sentence is so offensive,,,,!!
10-16-2018, 01:04 PM   #28
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No no it's not Stuart, I don't mean it like that. I am thinking about so many of the books and online resources that "average Joe" photographer(like me) can look at for learning and examples, and so much of that stuff is way OTT, Pie in the Sky sort of things, with $1000s of gear, assistants all over the place and professional models.

I'm just saying that I like to focus more on the realistic, "my real world" sort of things, the "common garden " variety of flash work, that could inspire so many of us here to try it for real, because it is achievable and obtainable.
10-16-2018, 03:47 PM   #29
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I agree. With the flooding to the market of cheap Chinese equipment, it certainly is achieveable. Lighting that in some cases deserves respect for quality. A couple of lights costs very little money and can create amazing results by creating what is in effect your own light and your own images.. A bit of money and a little imagination can create totally different results to anything ambient light shooters have ever created.Its just a learning curve..
10-17-2018, 01:11 PM   #30
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Let's play a game!

Which of these botanical shots were assisted with flash?

Image 1



Image 2



Image 3



Image 4



Image 5



Image 6



Image 7



Image 8
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