Portrait shoot soon - suggestions?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by epicwelshman, Jun 24, 2007.

  1. epicwelshman macrumors 6502a

    epicwelshman

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2006
    Location:
    Nassau, Bahamas
    #1
    Hey all,

    I'm hopefully going to be doing some photoshoots soon with some local models, just as practice to build up a portrait portfolio. The only photoshoot I've done before (which I think turned out fairly well) was with some friends who are models; they were very helpful and understanding, and i was shooting outdoors in the beautiful Bahamian sunshine.

    The only equipment I have is a D40x and an SB-600 flash, which will obviously be used on camera. Does anyone have any suggestions in terms of lighting, angles, etc? Also... using flash in the night, i.e., in the dark - any tips?

    Basically, does anyone have any advice at all they can give me?

    Thanks.
     
  2. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2003
    Location:
    Washington, DC
  3. epicwelshman thread starter macrumors 6502a

    epicwelshman

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2006
    Location:
    Nassau, Bahamas
    #3
    Oops... forgot to mention that. Unfortunately, yes. I know a 50mm 1.8 would be better, as would maybe a telephoto, but there's not a lot I can do about that.
     
  4. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #4
    You'll want at least two light sources, but one can be a reflector, main "key" light from about 45 degrees and fill from above the camera. I don't think the SB600 has a remote trigger mode like the SB-800, that's really too bad because you could use the SB-600 as a main and the on-camera flash as a fill- you may want to look at getting a hotshoe trigger and put the SB600 off to one side as your main. You can manually dial down the on-camera flash to get a 2:1 or so ratio between the key and fill.

    Practice short side ligting, long side lighting, try to keep only one ear in the shot. Strobist has great lighting suggestions for flashes, you can read that site and Chuck Gardner's site for posing hints and have enough to start with.

    Depending on how important portraiture is going to be, you may wish to consider adding an SB800 on a flash bracket above to control the SB600 on a stand and provide fill, or get an SU-800 and second Speedlight. The SU-800 is $250 though and the SB-800 is $315, so the SB-800 will be cheaper than getting the SU-800 and a second SB-600. (That's the main disadvantage of the D40's onboard flash, it doesn't do commander mode like the D80 and D200 can.)

    The alternative is some sort of trigger for your SB-600 on a stand (reflected into an umbrella if you want nice soft light) with the built-in flash dialed down for fill- this is the sort of thing I mean (never used the site, or the device)

    http://www.gadgetinfinity.com/product.php?productid=16730

    At less than $20, if you're not going to do a lot of portraiture, it's probably the best answer. Clamp or Velcro the SB-600 to something that's high up so you get a sun-like angle, bounce it off a cheap foamy bouncer if you don't want to splurge for an umbrella and stand and have done with it. I'm pretty-sure Chuck Gardner's site has the better bounce card instructions on it, that's about $10 and you can arrange the cup to bounce better than simply putting a diffuser on the head.

    Strobist is at:

    http://strobist.blogspot.com/

    The site's all about using flashguns for lighting. Nav menu is on the right.

    Chuck's site is at:

    http://super.nova.org/DPR/

    I can dig up a couple of book recommendations if it's useful.
     
  5. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #5
    Actually, if you're lighting the portraits (and it's always better to) then you'll be fine with a slower lens- you're going to put out enough light to not have to worry about lens speed. Your lens is in the good range for portrait work on a 1.5x crop factor body.

    I forgot to mention- you can also shoot outside under some shade if you can bounce the sun off of a couple of pieces of foamcore, just use distance to vary the ratio (twice as far for the fill than the key) or if you've got some nice diffuse sunlight coming through a window, then just one piece of foam core with the window as the key light or your on-board flash or dialed-down SB-600 as the fill or the SB-600 as the key and the sun as fill if you can get it over your shoulder.

    Basically, your fill coming from over the camera will fill in all the shadows on the face coming from the key.

    Keep as much distance to the background as you can so it doesn't distract, have the models in clothing that fades into the background contrast and color-wise so their faces stand out.
     
  6. epicwelshman thread starter macrumors 6502a

    epicwelshman

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2006
    Location:
    Nassau, Bahamas
    #6
    compuwar... you're brilliant, thank you. I definitely plan on picking up an SU-800 / SB-800 at some point so I can use off-camera wireless flash, but it's just not financially feasible right now. Your tips were very helpful though, thanks.
     
  7. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #7
    If you get one of the hot shoe optical triggers, I'd like to hear how it works out, I've been considering those for a back-up plan for a while now. I should probably spend the $20, but getting my extra flash from the person I loaned it to will probably result in dashing any hope I have in getting them to use fill flash, and I'm slowly talking myself into another SB-800 or two. Other than power and the ability to do commander mode, the SB-800 has the advantage of being optically triggered. Mine does double duty as a background light with my studio strobes now.
     
  8. epicwelshman thread starter macrumors 6502a

    epicwelshman

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2006
    Location:
    Nassau, Bahamas
    #8
    So the SB-800 could be used off-camera even by the D40? When I was in Vancouver I watched a photographer friend play around with his D200 and SB-600 off camera and was very jealous, and the commander mode is the one thing I wish the D40/x had... even more than support for non AF-S lenses!

    What would I risk with this? Would it damage my flash in any way, or is my only risk it simply being a P.O.S and not working as advertised?
     
  9. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #9
    Yep- with the caveat that it'll trigger on *any* flash source, but you put it in "SU-4 mode" (really not that intuitively named) and it'll trigger off the D40's onboard flash. If you can trade up, it's worth it for that alone. Dial the D40's built-in flash down manually and set your exposure for the SB-800 as the key light and you're all set with a two-light setup. Add a piece of foam core if you want to bounce something up from under the chin, cross light from the key or hair light off the fill. I'd expect an old coat rack and some velcro would double as a cheap light stand.

    The CLS is probably the most significant advantage Nikon has over Canon, I seriously considered going with 3-4 SB-800s over strobes originally, but wasn't sure I'd get enough light (ha! I've got too much now! :eek: )

    The risk is it wouldn't work as far as I can tell- if you're really worried, get the cheapest second-hand flash you can find and use it on that- but preferably one that's easy to set manually.
     
  10. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    Location:
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    #10
    That's one nice thing about the D70 and D80 - the on-board flash can do commander mode. Downside is, unlike the SB-800, it can't also work as a separate light source at the same time.

    Edit: Apparently the D200's built-in flash doesn't share this shortcoming. That's pretty darn cool.
     
  11. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2003
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #11
    Are you just trying to pad your post count or something? 5 posts all saying virtually the same thing.
     

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