Speedlite 580EX, 50mm and Portraiture

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Shaduu, Jan 21, 2008.

  1. Shaduu macrumors 6502a

    Shaduu

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2007
    Location:
    Southsea
    #1
    Okay, I'm shooting some head shots for a programme tomorrow and my stepfather has kindly lent me his 580EX as a just-in-case kind of thing. Since this could be my first time using a flashgun, I was wondering what sort of settings I should be using in regards to portraiture.

    I'll be using the 580EX in combination with my 300D and trusty 50mm f/1.8 with a distance of around 4ft from subject to lens.

    Thanks for any help in advance.
     
  2. Lovesong macrumors 65816

    Lovesong

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    Stuck beween a rock and a hard place
    #2
    First off, grab a piece of photo paper, and make yourself a cheap/free diffuser. The last thing you want to do is fire off that 580 straight into someone's face. Here is good guide on how to do it. This one uses a milk jug. Or this one that uses foam, or a film holder.

    After you do that, you will need to figure out how you want your pictures to look. If you're trying to isolate the person from the background, have them move a little away from the background, and use something like f/2.8-4 and test the shutter speed until you get the result you're looking for. In manual mode, EX speedlights will adjust their power based on your settings and the light conditions.
     
  3. davinche macrumors regular

    davinche

    Joined:
    May 3, 2005
    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    #3
    I actually just made my own better bounce card this weekend to take some portraits of my son. I was amazed at how well a single sheet of photo paper works as a diffuser. Although I will admit that is looks kind of hokey having a piece of paper on your flash. I ended up making a couple more and putting them in the bottom of my camera bag like the guy on the video says.
     
  4. Shaduu thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Shaduu

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2007
    Location:
    Southsea
    #4
    I've been testing out this flashgun on my two dogs using the 580EX's built-in diffuser and I had a quick play around with bouncing the light off the ceiling.

    It's also probably worth mentioning I'll be using a black curtain (thick muslin - yay!) for a background.
     
  5. Lovesong macrumors 65816

    Lovesong

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    Stuck beween a rock and a hard place
    #5
    That's not a diffuser, but a wide-angle panel. It spreads the light out when you're shooting wider than 24mm. Bouncing off the ceiling works, but a simple diffuser works that much better. ;)

    BTW- good call on the muslin. Remember that black BG will accentuate any blow-outs you might have, so measure carefully.
     
  6. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #6
    Can you get the flash off the camera with a cord and bracket or light stand? Broad side lighting for narrow faces, short side for wide ones. Depending on the nose size, you might want to get back some. Bring some foam core or something like that to bounce light off of for fill, and sometimes bouncing from the floor helps fill in some shadows if you're shooting with a single light source.
     
  7. Shaduu thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Shaduu

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2007
    Location:
    Southsea
    #7
    Thanks for the info, I'll see what I can do.

    Unfortunately not; this thing's going to be sitting directly on the hot shoe. However, I do have a fair amount of time to get this shoot done and the potential to reshoot with better lighting. I'll try bouncing from the floor, too. :)
     
  8. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #8
    A cable and bracket are *really* worth their weight in gold. Two reflectors, one for fill from the non-flash side and one to bounce up from the floor and some sort of bounce card or diffuser and you're pretty set for a single-light scenario. You might also google "Dragging the shutter" for tips on mixing ambient light...
     
  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #9
    Rules #1: Never aim the light directly on the subject, bounce it somehow off something first.

    #2: The larger that "something" is the softer the light, softer meaning the shadows have a less well defined edge. "Larger" is defined as "apparent angular size as seen from the subject's location". So getting loser with a same size light makes it softer.

    #3 if you can try and control not just the softness but the direction too. Can do this by either getting a sync cord and moving the flash unit or by aiming the on camera flash to a remote reflector. For example do you have an old projection screen. Place the screen to the side of the subject then aim the flash at the screen and the light will look like if there was a window to the side of the subject.

    Set up the screen over your left shoulder and aim the flash backwards at the screen. The screen will become the light source. This is the same idea as the photo paper thing but taken to the next level.

    #4 think a lot about the background. and if your light will cast a shadow onto it. Moving subject close to background will make background lighter, move subject away from wall to make the wall darker. Experiment to find the balance you like.

    #5 If there is a window in the room use that as a second light source and balance it with the flash. Don't try to balance in tungsten or florescent light. Use shutter speed to control level of ambient light, aperture to control level of flash light.

    #6 use a tripod. If you use a remote shutter release you can get your face out of the camera nd interact with the subject. I always shoot a few "throw away exposures" just to get the subject use to the camera.
     
  10. Shaduu thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Shaduu

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2007
    Location:
    Southsea
    #10
    Thanks for your help guys, for my first go at using flash, I think I did alright. I pretty much went with my original plan of bouncing off the floor and used a bounce card to send some light towards the subject.

    Unfortunately, although there are some good suggestions here, I couldn't go with many due to either time or resource restrictions but I'll definitely be trying them out when I have a bit more free time.
     

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