off-camera flash options

lisarhinehartlisarhinehart Major grinsPosts: 279Registered Users Major grins
edited September 15, 2009 in Technique
Hello :)
I have my 580 ex II on top of my Canon 50D with a fong cloud on top. I think the light woudl be better with the flash off my camera, but am a newbie and would like to know what my options are. --Lisa
Lisa
My Website

Comments

  • JohnBiggsJohnBiggs General grins Posts: 841Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 9, 2009
    Hello :)
    I have my 580 ex II on top of my Canon 50D with a fong cloud on top. I think the light woudl be better with the flash off my camera, but am a newbie and would like to know what my options are. --Lisa

    If you keep it in reach you could use the canon off camera cable. Such as with a flash bracket.

    If you still want more reach you can get a PC cable 15' or so.

    However what I ended with was AlienBees CyberSyncs (~$70 ea) and a 5 section compact lightstand from midwest photo exchange.
    Canon Gear: 5D MkII, 30D, 85 1.2 L, 70-200 2.8 IS L, 17-40mm f4 L, 50 1.4, 580EX, 2x 580EXII, Canon 1.4x TC, 300 f4 IS L, 100mm 2.8 Macro, 100-400 IS L
    Other Gear: Olympus E-PL1, Pan 20 1.7, Fuji 3D Camera, Lensbaby 2.0, Tamron 28-75 2.8, Alien Bees lighting, CyberSyncs, Domke, HONL, FlipIt.
    ~ Gear Pictures
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter Posts: 13,927Super Moderators moderator
    edited September 9, 2009
    Lisa,

    Off camera flash covers everything from one EOS speedlite hand held off camera with a pc cord, to multiple studio strobes, reflectors and power packs controlled by radio triggers.

    What is your budget and planned usage?

    I collected some links about the EOS flash system, both on and off the camera, here
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • lisarhinehartlisarhinehart Major grins Posts: 279Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 9, 2009
    better flash
    John,
    The alien bees thing has me intrigued. I can picture myself holdling my camera in one hand and light flash in the other-- I am small though, so maybe not. I think it can also be noted that my hubby will be coming with me to shoots to assist-- maybe he could even hold it so it could be coming in the direction I wanted, even if people moved. I may be way off base here-- again this is all new to me. --Lisa


    Pathfinder,
    Thanks :). I already own a 580 ex II so if there is a quick fix that involves just removing it and getting a chord, that would be great.

    I'm just starting out, so I already have a lot on my mind (settings, ebb and flow of weddings), and already invested a fair amount in equipment for now. I also don't want to complicate things to much with adding too much more to think about. However I am sure that getting my light off the camera would yield better results.

    I like to keep things simple and go for quality over quantity when I can. I want to see what's out there and plan for the future-- whether for my next wedding in 2 weeks or a year down the line-- I know it's a direction I need to take, so best to start thinking about it now. I'll check out your links.

    --Lisa
    Lisa
    My Website
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter Posts: 13,927Super Moderators moderator
    edited September 9, 2009
    The simplest way to use a 580exII off camera is to use the Canon wireless system, with either another 580ex ( or a 580ex II or a 550ex, or an ST-E2 IR transmitter) as a master on the camera and your present 580exII off the camera as a slave.

    There have been several discussions of the ST-E2 IR transmitter in the links I posted above. The EOS wireless system has significant limits out of doors in sunlight, but indoors it works pretty well.

    Non OEM flash, used off camera in manual mode flash, can be triggered by a number of radio transmitters, like the Pocket Wizards, or other devices.
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • divamumdivamum Major grins Posts: 9,018Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 9, 2009
    Lisa -

    Search the gear sections as well - LOADS of threads on this very subject.

    Since you're Canon and don't want to mess with manual flash, the easiest answer would be to go with an STE2 trigger to fire your 580ex or, alternatively, getting a 2nd flash (either another 580 or a 430ex I or II, or even a 420ex) and using the 580exII to act as your master, and the other flash as a slave. Using the Canon flash system keeps the automatic ETTL metering, which some of the other off-camera systems don't.

    But go read in the gear section for now - search for pocketwizards and STE2 and quite a few threads should be there....
  • rwellsrwells Let the shootin' begin... Posts: 6,084Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 10, 2009
    Hello :)
    I have my 580 ex II on top of my Canon 50D with a fong cloud on top. I think the light woudl be better with the flash off my camera, but am a newbie and would like to know what my options are. --Lisa

    Lisa,

    I know you titled your post for off-camera flash, but I'm going to help you out here.

    I am a huge fan of off-camera flash. I teach such at our Stobist group. But, realize that you don't ALWAYS have to get the flash off your camera for great results.

    I implore you to read all about bounce flash techniques at "planet neil". (you can start here) With a simple $2.00 "foam thingy", you can direct your flash to come from many places, off-camera. Neil has a new book out that I'm ordering tonight.

    Check it all out. It will at worst, give you more options. At best: you'll produce great flash images even with the flash on your camera.
    Randy
  • Scott_QuierScott_Quier Lovin' It Posts: 6,524Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 10, 2009
    15524779-Ti.gif nod.gif - Randy is giving some good advice. It's not difficult to get off-camera-like effects with the flash mounted on the camera. This shot is not a portfolio piece by any stretch (I was just playing around the other day) but it was shot with a bare flash (no modifiers, no diffusers, nothing attached), mounted on the camera.

    639203981_Y8cKC-M.jpg

    The trick here is that I bounced the flash up and to the right, generally to that spot where the ceiling and the wall meet. The light bounced off that and produced these nice shadows on my son's face. This, literally, took less than about 20 seconds to get set up and executed.

    This one was with both off- and on-camera flash. We had a couple of AlienBees set up to provide some background lighting and then supplied fill with an on-camera 580 speedlight with an attached Better Bounce Card:

    514582099_oEcvg-M.jpg

    It took about 10 minutes to set this up.

    You're right about wanting to get some directional lighting - it will make all the difference in the world. The point I'm trying to make is that there are lots of different ways to get your flash off-camera (or get similar effects) and they don't have to be difficult to execute.
  • lisarhinehartlisarhinehart Major grins Posts: 279Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 10, 2009
    bounce
    Thanks!

    So I'm sure this is a sticky subject but-- is the foamy thing much better than the fong cloud at bouncing, or the little double pieces of plastic that flap out of my flash for that matter? I hear many rave reviews for the foam. I'm thinking probably most importantly is where you point it and thinking about where to point it to get the light where you want it. Scott, clever to use the corner to illuminate the whole room!

    Basically, it sounds like getting better at bouncing could let me stretch this whole off camera lighting longer, which makes me happy. The thing that has been annoying me about the way bounce has been working out for me (and I have no doubt that my technique is severely lacking) is the way it lights up everything. I think this wouldn't be so much of an issue for me if I used a wide enough f stop though as the distracting elements would be illuminated but reduced to a creamy blur rather than just illuminated (yuck).

    I'm checking out the link now.

    --Lisa
    Lisa
    My Website
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter Posts: 13,927Super Moderators moderator
    edited September 10, 2009
  • rwellsrwells Let the shootin' begin... Posts: 6,084Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 10, 2009
    Thanks!


    So I'm sure this is a sticky subject but-- is the foamy thing much better than the fong cloud at bouncing, or the little double pieces of plastic that flap out of my flash for that matter? I hear many rave reviews for the foam. I'm thinking probably most importantly is where you point it and thinking about where to point it to get the light where you want it. Scott, clever to use the corner to illuminate the whole room!

    Basically, it sounds like getting better at bouncing could let me stretch this whole off camera lighting longer, which makes me happy. The thing that has been annoying me about the way bounce has been working out for me (and I have no doubt that my technique is severely lacking) is the way it lights up everything. I think this wouldn't be so much of an issue for me if I used a wide enough f stop though as the distracting elements would be illuminated but reduced to a creamy blur rather than just illuminated (yuck).

    I'm checking out the link now.

    --Lisa

    Hey Lisa,

    It's obvious that you haven't read the info on Neil's site that I posted. The "foam thingy" he uses is completely different, and is used completely different than all those "foam bounce cards" that you see. He simply uses a piece of black foamy material placed on his flash, but not to "bounce" the light (as in, off of the foam itself), but as a flag/gobo. This allows an amount of control for spill light that I honestly don't know how else you could accomplish this with on-camera flash.

    Read Neil's site thumb.gif
    Randy
  • rwellsrwells Let the shootin' begin... Posts: 6,084Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 10, 2009
    pathfinder wrote:

    Jim,

    Don't know if you've seen/used Neil's "foam thingy" or not, but it's not used like a foam bounce diffuser. Check it out...


    I've been practicing with Neil's "foam thingy" method, and its hard to believe how much light control you gain this way. I was shooting an Indian drum in the middle of my living room, and I was stationed at the couch, I could light the drum from the front, right, left or rear without any light spill from the camera's position. Very cool...

    Roxie, my mannequin model, stood in for a few shots. I was completely able to create loop lighting (either side), beauty lighting, hair lighting or back lighting from sitting in one position on the couch, and without light spill.

    I'm so impressed that I just ordered Neil's book on bounce flash last night.

    On-Camera Flash Techniques for Digital Wedding and Portrait Photography (Paperback)

    by Neil van Niekerk
    Randy
  • adbsgicomadbsgicom Texas-Sized Grins Posts: 3,615Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 10, 2009
    I've been working my way through Neil's book. It is a useful read on getting a lot out of an on-camera flash by bouncing the light.
    His traveling road show/class is in Texas in November hitting Dallas and Austin, I think.
    - Andrew

    Who is wise? He who learns from everyone.
    My SmugMug Site
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter Posts: 13,927Super Moderators moderator
    edited September 10, 2009
    rwells wrote:
    Jim,

    Don't know if you've seen/used Neil's "foam thingy" or not, but it's not used like a foam bounce diffuser. Check it out...


    I've been practicing with Neil's "foam thingy" method, and its hard to believe how much light control you gain this way. I was shooting an Indian drum in the middle of my living room, and I was stationed at the couch, I could light the drum from the front, right, left or rear without any light spill from the camera's position. Very cool...

    Roxie, my mannequin model, stood in for a few shots. I was completely able to create loop lighting (either side), beauty lighting, hair lighting or back lighting from sitting in one position on the couch, and without light spill.

    I'm so impressed that I just ordered Neil's book on bounce flash last night.

    On-Camera Flash Techniques for Digital Wedding and Portrait Photography (Paperback)

    by Neil van Niekerk

    Randy,

    I don't think the color of the foamie really matters - the white foamie is opaque, so will not really transmit much light at all. Black may make it a bit more directional as there will be no reflection perpendicular to the gobo since it is black. But a white foamie can be used to reflect in various directions just like the black one.

    All this reflection needs near white walls or ceiling of course.

    I like using the reflection from the foamie to put catchlights in the eyes with ceiling bounce flash, but the white foamie can be turned around as a gobo also, Randy.

    Neil gave exposure data, ISO, aperture and shutter speed, but did not specify Manual mode or Av. In the image he showed it didn't matter with a shutter speed of 1/250. But if it was darker, manual mode with ettl gives more control of the balance of ambient and flash which is what his pictures are so good at catching.

    Looks like a good book!

    I can actually think of using white and black at the same time. I bought black foamie from Wal Mart at the same time Iobuhgt my white foamie sheets as well. I even bought some orange, thinking of using is kind of like a tungsten gel out of doors at sundownthumb.gif
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • adbsgicomadbsgicom Texas-Sized Grins Posts: 3,615Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 10, 2009
    pathfinder wrote:
    Randy,

    Neil gave exposure data, ISO, aperture and shutter speed, but did not specify Manual mode or Av. In the image he showed it didn't matter with a shutter speed of 1/250. But if it was darker, manual mode with ettl gives more control of the balance of ambient and flash which is what his pictures are so good at catching.

    Neil notes in the book that he believes in using Manual mode with the flash in E-TTL (iTTL) mode because you don't have to start second guessing how the two automations are going to react. Control the light manually and use the FEC on the flash to control the level of the flash, esp. if you are moving. He notes that he'll go full manual if the flashes are fixed in relation to the subject, but for dynamic settings, M/TTL for the most part.
    - Andrew

    Who is wise? He who learns from everyone.
    My SmugMug Site
  • rwellsrwells Let the shootin' begin... Posts: 6,084Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 10, 2009
    pathfinder wrote:
    Randy,

    I don't think the color of the foamie really matters - the white foamie is opaque, so will not really transmit much light at all. Black may make it a bit more directional as there will be no reflection perpendicular to the gobo since it is black. But a white foamie can be used to reflect in various directions just like the black one.

    All this reflection needs near white walls or ceiling of course.

    I like using the reflection from the foamie to put catchlights in the eyes with ceiling bounce flash, but the white foamie can be turned around as a gobo also, Randy.

    Neil gave exposure data, ISO, aperture and shutter speed, but did not specify Manual mode or Av. In the image he showed it didn't matter with a shutter speed of 1/250. But if it was darker, manual mode with ettl gives more control of the balance of ambient and flash which is what his pictures are so good at catching.

    Looks like a good book!

    I can actually think of using white and black at the same time. I bought black foamie from Wal Mart at the same time Iobuhgt my white foamie sheets as well. I even bought some orange, thinking of using is kind of like a tungsten gel out of doors at sundownthumb.gif

    Jim,

    Neil states that the white foamy scatters/reflects the light too much for him. My limited testing shows this also. The black does "eat" up some light, but it helps with spill light, therefore better light placement.

    Also, it makes a big difference to make sure the foam covers all but the "top/open" portion of the flash head. (meaning: if you took a rectangular snoot & cut the top portion off. It would resemble a rain gutter, if you will) If it doesn't, you get a lot of light spill, therefore negating a lot of your ability to control light placement. All of the regular foamy diffuser/reflectors I've seen & used opened up too much on the sides from the flash head, basically allowing a near 180 degrees of light to escape the flash head. This is not the control we are looking for here.

    I'm not trying to sell this method, just pointing out that it's very different than the normal foamy diffuser/reflector design and use.

    YMMV

    I'm pretty sure Neil uses manual on his camera with Ettl, well, I do anyway.
    Randy
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter Posts: 13,927Super Moderators moderator
    edited September 10, 2009
    Interesting, I'll have to give this a try, Randy. I already own the black foam too!!

    I suspected he shot in Manual/ETTL as I have rec'd for some time, I just did not see that stated in a quick perusal of the link you posted. Thanks again for emphasizing that, I think it is very important, and not well understood by many new users of the EOS flash system.
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • angevin1angevin1 Performs as designed Posts: 3,403Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 10, 2009
    pathfinder wrote:
    Interesting, I'll have to give this a try, Randy. I already own the black foam too!!

    I suspected he shot in Manual/ETTL as I have rec'd for some time, I just did not see that stated in a quick perusal of the link you posted. Thanks again for emphasizing that, I think it is very important, and not well understood by many new users of the EOS flash system.
    I think you'd have to start here to read that specifically... He redid his site since my last visit, but a worthwhile read.
    tom wise
  • mtbparkermtbparker Big grins Posts: 60Registered Users Big grins
    edited September 11, 2009
    This thread inspired me. Today was a pretty crummy day here in the Washington D.C. area. It was a perfect day for some indoor projects. Per the links provided here, I made two foam bouncers and two snoots this afternoon -- one for each speed light. Very simple. Very quick. And a very short list of supplies.

    If you want to see them in more detail, the bigger images can be found >>> here <<<

    The bouncer. The velcro on the back allows you to vary the curvature of the bouncer
    646573524_oVCVe-S.jpg 646573603_7UUpb-S.jpg

    The snoot. I made one small mod to what I saw. I used velcro and another strip of foam instead of the recommended black tape. I was thinking about transportability and wanted to be able to flatten it back out. If I used tape, it'd probably get crushed in by bags.
    646573538_H6H9Q-S.jpg

    And while I was shopping, I found huge sheets of both black and white foam. Lot's of potential with these things -- reflectors, backdrops, etc.
    646573479_2qp32-S.jpg


    Thanks all. This thread made for a fun afternoon. Now it's off to put these things to good use. :D

    Tom
    Tom Parker
  • Gary752Gary752 Major grins Central PAPosts: 921Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 12, 2009
    rwells wrote:
    Lisa,

    I know you titled your post for off-camera flash, but I'm going to help you out here.

    I am a huge fan of off-camera flash. I teach such at our Stobist group. But, realize that you don't ALWAYS have to get the flash off your camera for great results.

    I implore you to read all about bounce flash techniques at "planet neil". (you can start here) With a simple $2.00 "foam thingy", you can direct your flash to come from many places, off-camera. Neil has a new book out that I'm ordering tonight.

    Check it all out. It will at worst, give you more options. At best: you'll produce great flash images even with the flash on your camera.

    Randy...Would the black foam sheet that usually comes in the box, under a new motherboard work? I think there would be enough to make a half snoot, and a full snoot out of that one sheet if you're carefull when cutting it. It should work, but I think it would allow a slight amount of the flash to bleed through, since it is a little porous. If you think it will work, you can probably get a sheet or two from your favorite computer shop for nothing, since they usually throw it away with the box after building a computer.

    GaryB
    GaryB
    “The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it!”Ansel Adams
  • rwellsrwells Let the shootin' begin... Posts: 6,084Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 12, 2009
    BroPhoto wrote:
    Randy...Would the black foam sheet that usually comes in the box, under a new motherboard work? I think there would be enough to make a half snoot, and a full snoot out of that one sheet if you're carefull when cutting it. It should work, but I think it would allow a slight amount of the flash to bleed through, since it is a little porous. If you think it will work, you can probably get a sheet or two from your favorite computer shop for nothing, since they usually throw it away with the box after building a computer.

    GaryB

    Hey Gary,

    That might work, but I'd want an opaque material. I have several sheets of "fun foam" that I bought at a hobby store for under $1.00 per sheet.

    Thanks for the input.
    Randy
  • divamumdivamum Major grins Posts: 9,018Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 12, 2009
    rwells wrote:
    Hey Gary,

    That might work, but I'd want an opaque material. I have several sheets of "fun foam" that I bought at a hobby store for under $1.00 per sheet.

    Thanks for the input.

    Many Walmarts often have it ... the thin sheets are about 33 cents/sheet, so it's a no-brainer to give it a try!
  • kelvinkelvin Big grins Posts: 18Registered Users Big grins
    edited September 14, 2009
    Reflector
    I use a 36" white reflector to bounce my light. It gives the effect of a second soft box light and does not light up the entire room. It can be very effective and inexpensive. You just need an assistant to hold it up for you.

    Kelvin
  • mtbparkermtbparker Big grins Posts: 60Registered Users Big grins
    edited September 14, 2009
    BroPhoto wrote:
    ...Would the black foam sheet that usually comes in the box, under a new motherboard work?
    GaryB

    From the computers I've built (ie: I've bought several mobo's), there's a slight difference. The foam in the mobos have a slight reflective sheen to them. The fun foam is a very flat black. It could perhaps have slightly different results. Could be good, could be bad, may not matter... It's just a noted difference.

    I found my fun foam at Michael's craft store. I also saw it listed at JoAnn fabric. Others have said they've found it at WalMart. It's very easy to find.

    Hope this helps,
    Tom
    Tom Parker
  • lisarhinehartlisarhinehart Major grins Posts: 279Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 15, 2009
    thanks all!
    You are all so kind, and have given me a lot to work with-- and so many great (and cheap) ideas. Thank you!!!! --Lisa
    Lisa
    My Website
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