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Bounce flash - where to set flash zoom?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by jmw, Jul 12, 2012.

  1. jmw

    jmw Mu-43 Regular

    33
    May 20, 2012
    San Francisco, CA
    If I'm doing bounce flash (with a card), should the flash head be zoomed wide, long, or somewhere in between?
     
  2. Repp

    Repp Mu-43 Veteran

    499
    Jan 27, 2011
    Oak Harbor, WA
    I've always wondered about this myself... I've been working mainly trial and error, and for me it depends on what the surface of the ceiling is, how high up it is, how far away the subject is, and how large the area I'm trying to light is. I've also been toying around with manual, auto, and TTL... still not sure what the best solution is.
     
  3. 0dBm

    0dBm Mu-43 Top Veteran

    859
    Jun 30, 2011
    Western United States
    Since I don't know what camera, lens, & flash unit you're using; or ceiling and wall color you're encountering; I'll just describe what I do in a particular scenario.

    This past Friday, I shot a rap-hip-hop concert. The hall ceiling was matte black. The walls were dark beige. Opposite the stage was a mirrored wall. Stage lighting was tungsten at about 3500 Kelvin. Seating/audience lighting was nothing but the spill from the stage lights.

    I set my camera color temperature to 4000Kelvin and adjusted the tint to warm-up the final images. I set the Olympus 12mm, f/2.0 aperture to 2.0. Using a RF trigger on my GX1 and remote on my Metz-58AF1, the shutter defaulted to 60. ISO to 400. Metz was set to Manual, 24mm zoom. I adjusted the Metz output between 1/64 for subjects between 4-8 feet from the lens and 1/16 for subjects between 8-12 feet; adjusting ISO and aperture as needed.

    I use the 4 x 4.25-inch Demb Classic Flip-it bounce card with a clear diffuser.

    With subjects further away, I angle the bounce card further forward and the flash unit to zoom further (longer FL), higher ISO, and greater output.

    For portrait-esque, waist-up shots at about 5 feet from the lens, I angle the bounce card further back about 20-degrees from full vertical, diffuser to slightly canting forward-same angle. I set the Metz to 24mm zoom, 1/32-2/3 power, & F2.8. Once I have the bounce card angle set and Metz output tweaked to my preference, I simply focus and have the subject(s) stay relaxed as I move a foot or so side-to-side as I activate the shutter typically 4-6 times to catch several images.

    The Metz allows all that adjustability. It is my main live event flash unit. Big, powerful, and full-featured.

    I hope that this helps a bit. Tell me about your equipment, subjects, and ambience and I can better help you.
     
  4. jmw

    jmw Mu-43 Regular

    33
    May 20, 2012
    San Francisco, CA
    I'm using the FL-600R on a E-P3, typically with either the 17mm, 25mm, or 45mm lens mounted. I have the FLRA-1 as a bounce card, but unlike the ones you mentioned it doesn't angle back and forth. The 600R also has a built in bounce card, but it's the size of a postage stamp.

    Mostly I'm learning the basics of flash and artificial light photography and have been shooting friends at parties or portraits, so the environment is typically indoors with white walls and mixed lighting. It feels like there are a lot more variables and not many fixed rules when it comes to flash photography. The FL-36R would automatically zoom to 25mm when the flash head wasn't angled straight forward, so I've been using that as a starting point.

    I'm surprised you're able to keep up with concert photography using a manual flash. It seems like that is a scenario where TTL helps and reduces the workload. Isn't there a lot of variability in lighting? When I think of setting flash power manually, I've always thought it would be in a studio with a light meter handy and after doing a few test shots.
     
  5. D@ne

    D@ne Mu-43 Top Veteran

    593
    Feb 23, 2012
    Toronto
    I too am struggling with learning flash techniques...seems like there is much trial and error. All the books I've been reading say basically the same things, but none are specific enough to satisfy all my questions.
     
  6. nueces snapper

    nueces snapper Mu-43 All-Pro

    Flash photography is like golf and fly fishing. I'm too old to learn these complicated and challenging endeavors. :biggrin:
     
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  7. phdezra

    phdezra Mu-43 Stalker

    115
    Dec 6, 2011
    New York, NY
    I'll just add my two cents here, as here is the technique that I self-taught myself after skimming a few books on flash photography. Obviously, if I were a working professional, I'd have a more elaborate answer as some of the experts have already suggested. But, for a prosumer, this works fine for me and many of my friends:

    Essentially, on either my E-M5 or my former E-P3, I have used the Metz 36 (Metz mecablitz 36AF-5 Digital Flash for Olympus / MZ 36352OPL) - it is $120, bounces to various angles, and comes with a diffuzer you can clip on (similar to Stofen diffusion, but a drop smaller). I almost always set the flash at a 45 degree angle. Not straight up at ceiling, and NEVER EVER NEVER straight at the subject (99% of my shots are portraits or candids).

    I am never at the same distance to my subject, but I dont care - whether I am using a zoom or a prime. The flash compensates well enough, even if the flash lighting is not 100% professional (in which case I merely call it 'creative flash photography' :rofl: )

    Here are some examples, all with the Metz 36 pointed at 45 degrees WITH a Stofen diffuser on top of it (this is the Stofen I use: Sto-Fen OM-MZ3 Omni-Bounce OM-MZ3 B&H Photo Video . In general, I have found that LESS flash lighting is better. All photos in either P or A mode.

    First one is E-P3 + PL 25/1.4 +Metz 36 + Stofen (BOUNCED)

    Next three are E-M5 + Pana 12-35/2.8 +Metz 36 + Stofen (BOUNCED)

    7184994383_3f65823680_b.

    7451590024_47d908476e_b.

    7444276336_e56bcde824_b.

    7444298174_993ec87067_b.
     
  8. D@ne

    D@ne Mu-43 Top Veteran

    593
    Feb 23, 2012
    Toronto
    Question - how important is it to diffuse the flash if bouncing?

    One more - 45 degrees is mentioned above, is this the preferred angle for bouncing? I'm not certain what degree to choose for different scenarios (high ceilings, etc.)
     
  9. phdezra

    phdezra Mu-43 Stalker

    115
    Dec 6, 2011
    New York, NY
    IMHO, you dont necessarily need to diffuse and bounce, but I do adn swear by it. :biggrin: I have found that it is easier to keep my diffuser on the flash than to rummage around to find it if I need to put it on. The diffuser does cut down on light output and therefore a minor reduction in flash guide number, but the 'harshness' goes away too.

    The reason I bounce and diffuse is because of the 45 degree angle -- half way between 'dead-ahead' and 'straight-up'. I found this combo of partial bounce and partial direct lighting is terrific with the Stofen. Plus, the Metz 36 is fabulous, fabulous, fabulous TTL for a mere $120 at a GN 36(!) - I mean, really, do the majority of us need more than GN 36?

    Most of the rooms/buildings I am in have ceilings between 8 feet and 10 feet, which I believe is true 80% of the time. Obviously if you are in a weddign hall or suxh, this would need some re-thinking.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. D@ne

    D@ne Mu-43 Top Veteran

    593
    Feb 23, 2012
    Toronto
    Thanks! Sorry for hijacking the thread.
     
  11. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    Debi
    From looking at phdezra's photos and the angle of the shadows, I'm guessing that although the flash is angled 45 degrees up, it's still facing forward? In that case I understand why he still wants a diffuser, because there is some direct flash still hitting the subject.

    In my case, I always bounce to the side or behind me (at an angle), so there is little or no direct flash on the subject. I never use a diffuser. Basically, I decide which wall I want to use as my main reflector, and point the flash at that wall.

    About the OP's questions, I thought that most flashes default to their widest setting if the flash head is not locked in the standard forward position.
     
  12. phdezra

    phdezra Mu-43 Stalker

    115
    Dec 6, 2011
    New York, NY
    Yes - thanks for clarifying. 45 degrees upward, but not rotated or swiveled in another direction.
     
  13. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    Debi
    Just to illustrate, here is bounce flash off a wall. I'm bouncing off the wall behind me and to my left; it's the wall opposite the wall behind the couch. Because the light source (the wall) is so large; it gives a very diffuse light with very soft shadows.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/debit72/6807563742/" title="Lounging on the Couch by debit72, on Flickr"> 6807563742_bb0fde8d86_z. "480" height="640" alt="Lounging on the Couch"></a>
     
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  14. phdezra

    phdezra Mu-43 Stalker

    115
    Dec 6, 2011
    New York, NY
    Nicely done. Which flash are you using?


     
  15. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    Debi
    Metz 50 AF-1