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01-07-2019, 07:06 PM - 10 Likes   #1
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Indoor Exposure Mixing

A flash failing to fire for one shot gave me the idea to show this example:

How the ambient and flash exposures are independent, and how powerful a single on-camera flash can be in controlling extreme contrast indoors ....

The scenario was a bit of birthday cake baking, with bright sunshine streaming in from the windows behind. This sunlight was creating very bright highlights on the wall but leaving the table area and faces facing away from the window in deep shadow. So it was of course flash to the rescue, not direct flash, but on-camera sideways bounced and flagged ....

This is the equipment : K7, AF-540FGZII, "Flag thing" :




I had to meter for the ambient in order to control the very bright sun highlights which were going to be in the picture ..... if I didn't do this then these highlights could blow out and be an ugly distraction. So in Manual mode I fixed the settings at ISO400 / F8.0 / 1/180th, which just brought the sun highlights under control .... here is the shot without the flash, showing the extreme contrast in this sort of situation, and of course it demonstrates how difficult contrast control would be without flash ....




Then of course its flash to the rescue, with the on-camera flagged AF-540FGZII in P-TTL mode, the light being bounced to the right of the camera position into the walls and coming back onto the left side of my sons face ..... (my daughters whole face is illuminated more evenly because she is turned more towards the light source) ....





The result is an evenly balanced exposure mixing the ambient highlights and flash covered areas, taking care of the extreme contrast challenges in the scene. The angle of the bounce I hope gives a natural impression as the direction of the flash light appears to come from the brightly lit wall area ....

I hope this will prompt some more Pentax Users to try out some bounced flagged flash indoors when needing to take control over contrast, and when combining ambient and flash exposures will deal with dynamic range challenges. Hope you find it useful


Nigel

01-07-2019, 11:23 PM   #2
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Excellent photographic examples and information Nigel, thanks.
01-08-2019, 12:25 AM   #3
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Yep, good stuff, Nige, that's what it's all about if someone's after a naturalistic look.

01-08-2019, 01:44 AM   #4
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Thanks guys, glad you saw it, and let's hope it can encourage more Pentax photographers here to use flash to take control over the contrast and exposure balancing of their cake baking images!

01-09-2019, 02:28 PM   #5
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Very good, Nigel, I am glad that you bring this topic up for discussion as flash photography is a complex subject and most beginner try to avoid at all if possible.

I am an event photographer (birthdays, weddings, stage and performance shows), so flash photography is a must for me. One thing for sure, there is no 'right' way to do it... and every situation is different, and often there are more ways to do it to achieve the result you want.

I have noticed one thing from your example, since you are using the 540 version II flash. I have a feeling that you are not using the front LED featured on your hot-shoe mounted flash (please correct me if I am wrong). This front LED flash is IMHO the best feature I find which is better than any other method with diffuser. I noticed that you have the k-7, so I can see why you are not too confident on ISO performance of that camera.

Another thing that I want to bring up is the dynamic range of the modern day sensor such as the one I have on k-1 allows me to use higher ISO than I would normally use (ie. as high as ISO 2500) without much noise penalty. I generally agree with your approach, but I would have use higher ISO, slower shutter and lower aperture (ie. TAV mode, f4.5 1/125 EV -0.7).

Anyway, good topic for discussion purposes.
01-10-2019, 03:44 AM   #6
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And thanks for keeping the discussion going .....I always keep trying to focus more on the taking of flash photographs, rather than the endless talk about what radio triggers to buy and then how to get them working! We're swimming against the tide though with this one ....

I don't think the LED catchlight was on, no, and it's always worth trying, you're right. The advantage over the tradional white panel type is of course it continues to work during swivel bounced situations, the best ones! I have not done much testing with the catchlight on, but my impression is that it's rather subtle, shall we say. ..... Perhaps too subtle. No doubt it's effect will increase at higher ISOs and wider aperture.

I am really looking forward to a K1 one day (after my lottery win or Pension payout!) precisely in order to utilize flash at high ISOs, in particular to allow better ambient /flash mixing indoors in low light, so I'm with you on that one

With this shot here I kept it at max sync speed to control those sun highlights on the walls .... It's strange, but going to HSS indoors seems to break a rather strong psychological barrier .....
01-12-2019, 07:32 PM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
And thanks for keeping the discussion going .....I always keep trying to focus more on the taking of flash photographs, rather than the endless talk about what radio triggers to buy and then how to get them working! We're swimming against the tide though with this one ....

I don't think the LED catchlight was on, no, and it's always worth trying, you're right. The advantage over the tradional white panel type is of course it continues to work during swivel bounced situations, the best ones! I have not done much testing with the catchlight on, but my impression is that it's rather subtle, shall we say. ..... Perhaps too subtle. No doubt it's effect will increase at higher ISOs and wider aperture.

I am really looking forward to a K1 one day (after my lottery win or Pension payout!) precisely in order to utilize flash at high ISOs, in particular to allow better ambient /flash mixing indoors in low light, so I'm with you on that one

With this shot here I kept it at max sync speed to control those sun highlights on the walls .... It's strange, but going to HSS indoors seems to break a rather strong psychological barrier .....
Nigel, again, thanks for sharing and opening up the discussion of flash photography as it is indeed an intriguing topic worthy of discussion and sharing. While we both share the same passion for flash photography, our focus areas and knowledge background are quite different imho. I don't usually do multi-flash setup, soft-box or flash umbrella as many other wedding photographers would do. I generally use a single hot-shoe mounted flash in most situation for weddings, events etc.

K-7: With regard to the k-7, I used to own one, it was a great camera at the time, because of the ISO performance (I think it was a Samsung sensor), I had replaced it soon with the k-5, then k-5II and then k-3, now of course the k-1. By comparison, the sensor from the k-1 is far superior than the k-7 and gives me more headroom to correct most underexposure errors. I remember that I often tried to avoid shooting past ISO 1600 on the k-7.

Pentax 360/540 II flashes: As I have stressed often times the importance of the front LED, with the flash tilted at different angle, it is a great "shadow killing" tool IMHO. In essence, the flash when fired is providing 2 separate light sources simultaneously, one frontal (LED) and one from flash head (bounced light).

No more diffuser: Also, with the use of the front LED on the flash itself, I have also stopped using any flash diffuser such as Sto-fen or similar kind. IMHO, there is no need to use it anymore. If I need to, I just use my left hand on the flash head provide a bit of angle to deflect the light and that's it.

Use of flash to remove color-cast: Another point that is often forgotten is that one can make use of the flash bring back the native color (of the costume/dress) in the image in many difficult color cast lighting situations even in a well-lit environment.

Anyway, hope others can chime in for more thoughts on this topic.
01-12-2019, 08:33 PM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by aleonx3 Quote



Use of flash to remove color-cast: Another point that is often forgotten is that one can make use of the flash bring back the native color (of the costume/dress) in the image in many difficult color cast lighting situations even in a well-lit environment.


And skin tones!





01-13-2019, 10:43 AM - 1 Like   #9
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Yes! We've been discussing the likely impact of mixing indoor school building lights with flash on BruceBanners's thread, and there seems to be very little advantage to trying to record any of such ambient light into the mix, mainly because of the need to make longer exposures (not good for steadiness / sharpness) but also to avoid unpleasant colour casts. With our flash WB we and the same temperature coming from all our flashes we can have perfectly controlled natural skin tones.


Aleonx3, absolutely I agree on not using a dome type diffuser if possible, as the wide spread of light can kill off any directionality and contrast on the faces. I will certainly explore moer with the front LED catchlight on the AF-540FGZII though!


And of course, off-camera flash setups might be a great ideal, but in many real world situations it just can't be done, so the on-camera bounced & flagged P-TTL flash is the next best thing.
01-14-2019, 07:55 PM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
And skin tones!
+1 absolutely, 100% agree.

QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
Yes! We've been discussing the likely impact of mixing indoor school building lights with flash on BruceBanners's thread, and there seems to be very little advantage to trying to record any of such ambient light into the mix, mainly because of the need to make longer exposures (not good for steadiness / sharpness) but also to avoid unpleasant colour casts. With our flash WB we and the same temperature coming from all our flashes we can have perfectly controlled natural skin tones.

I remember the first time (many years ago) I used the on-camera flash in full auto shooting mode, the shutter speed was set to default at 1/60. From that point on, I started to research on why such setting is considered the 'standard'. Later, I learned more about sync speed limit and limitation on high-speed sync flash etc. Since then I have been shooting in manual mode whenever I use flash, until later when I discovered that TAv mode actually works better in most situations. In TAv mode, we have complete control of the ambient/flash light mix, to allow more ambient light influence, one can drag the shutter, widen the aperture, use EV to control overall light at will; add that flexibility with the high-dynamic range sensor on the k-1, it is quite easy to work with lots of headroom for any user error.

QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
Aleonx3, absolutely I agree on not using a dome type diffuser if possible, as the wide spread of light can kill off any directionality and contrast on the faces. I will certainly explore moer with the front LED catchlight on the AF-540FGZII though!
As a matter of fact, when I first got the AF-360FGZ II flash, I immediately look for the sto-fen diffuser as I have used the same in my older AF-360FGZ flash (noticed that the flash head between the 2 versions are different. I did more research on the difference in the 2 flashes and learn that since version II flash has the front LED, I just discovered some comments about not needing the diffuser on the newer flash. I did more tests on the newer flash and discover that with the flash head turn straight up and front LED on, it is actually a good setup to minimize (if not complete removal) of shadow in regular portrait shooting against a background wall.
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