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04-16-2010, 06:55 AM   #1
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Some help with interior lights

I've been shooting some interiors for friends for web publication. I'm using a Cactus flash p-ttl from Gadget Infinity ($120) specific to my K x. Most of the time it produces fine images using a ceiling bounce, bounce card or sychro when outside light is good.

My problem is: every now and again, the only way I can light a room is to blast the flash straight ahead, at which point I have glare and hotspots, even using the built-in diffuser. So do I need a bigger diffuser? Strobies has a mini softbox that's targeted for portraits and looks sorta useful. Gadget infinity has some inflatible diffusers that might work. Would I be able to use one of those bracket elevators to get an even larger diffuser? I'd be curious what others use.

I'm trying to come up with a "good enough" all-in one solution, and avoid multiple flashes, slaves etc.

Thanks in advance.

04-16-2010, 07:05 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by LouD Quote
I've been shooting some interiors for friends for web publication. I'm using a Cactus flash p-ttl from Gadget Infinity ($120) specific to my K x. Most of the time it produces fine images using a ceiling bounce, bounce card or sychro when outside light is good.

My problem is: every now and again, the only way I can light a room is to blast the flash straight ahead, at which point I have glare and hotspots, even using the built-in diffuser. So do I need a bigger diffuser? Strobies has a mini softbox that's targeted for portraits and looks sorta useful. Gadget infinity has some inflatible diffusers that might work. Would I be able to use one of those bracket elevators to get an even larger diffuser? I'd be curious what others use.

I'm trying to come up with a "good enough" all-in one solution, and avoid multiple flashes, slaves etc.

Thanks in advance.
Larger aperture or higher ISO should do it.
04-16-2010, 10:29 AM   #3
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Well, with flash diffusion, yes, surface area is what counts. The thing is that to get that surface area you must also increase volume: if the flash isn't lighting up that whole surface area to begin with, the extra size won't help you.

A good way, if you aren't able to 'light up the room' is to try and bring up the house lights a bit with a longer shutter speed: not enough to make your subject look swimmy, but just enough to let the ambient light come in where the flash is falling off. Just let the flash be a stop or two more powerful than the exposure you'd get without flash: often a little flash will do the job. (Don't take it to extremes, to start, just let that shutter speed get down to maybe 1/60-1/15th of a second and don't ask for a very-stopped-down aperture, as Enoeske refers to: what this does is let the ambient light be closer to and more of the scene's lighting. This will mitigate many vices of direct flash in a lot of situations.)

It's all about balance. There is light in the room, and there is what the flash can do. Think of time and light-per-time: These are essentially adding a very brief flash exposure to an ambient light exposure. If the flash does all the work, you will see pretty much only what the flash does. If you have just a little flash amid a very bright ambient exposure, the flash will be a little brief exposure amid all the rest. (This will look funky if you overdo it, but if you go gently you will still have nice and sharp subjects with a handheldedly-softer background. Bokeh? Wedonneedno stinking bokeh. We brought our own.

A lot of stuff is sold as 'You must light up the room.' I say, no. I say, Learn about 'fill flash,' ....Darn near everything is fill flash. The rest is just quality and degree. And most especially balance. I even keep the pop-up flash turned down on any modern camera.

Oh, but inflatable ones are darn handy, by the way. Not 'the best' but better than the fancy bounce card or giganto plastic Devo hat you left at home, by a long way.

Last edited by Ratmagiclady; 04-16-2010 at 10:39 AM.
04-16-2010, 11:24 AM   #4
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The best way to avoid glare and hot spots, IMHO, is bare bulb flash.

I have several "bare bulb" diffusers that I made from plastic canvas, available at the embroidery department of craft/fabric stores for about $1 an 8X11 or 11X14 sheet.

I had some photos of the diffusers, posted on this forum, but recently my son accidentally deleted the photos in my flickr account. I'll see if I can post them this weekend.

04-16-2010, 11:55 AM   #5
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The advice is excellent. I forgot to mention that all these are vacation homes, and the power is turned off, so no interior light other than from windows. I will probably reshoot some of the more troublesome photos this week when they turn the power back on. Problem solved.

Funny I've been screwing around with a manual flash for a year or so, and switching to the P-ttl is really a dream, expecially the slow syncro mode, which allows for a lot of ambient light.
04-19-2010, 02:04 AM   #6
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IMO, if there is no light or the lighting is dim, we need to light up the place. This can be done with longer shutter speed or if you can, bring more lighting equipment to brighten up the area.

In your case, I reckon the shutter speed to be set down to, say 1/60-1/15th of a second. Now, if the flash does all the work, you will see only what the flash does, that is the flash of light reflecting back from your subject.
On the other hand, if you have a wee flash besides a very bright ambient exposure, the flash will be a wee brief exposure as compared with the rest.
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