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lighting critique please

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I'm trying to venture into the world of outdoor portrait lighting. In these shots I used a Vivitar 283 flash with a 42" silver umbrella at camera left about 45 deg to her and above her eye level. I had the flash set to the same power for all of these and only changes camera settings. Please tell me which one is the closest to what I should be going for and how I could improve it. These are straight out of camera (I think that's the first time I've ever done that smile ). Don't worry about the poses, this was strictly a lighting exercise.

For this one I metered the ambient light and had a reading of ISO400 f3.4 at 1/125 so I increased my flash to 1 stop higher at f4.8


On this one I changed to f6.7 to decrease the flash a little but I also went to 1/90 shutter speed to brighten the background a little


On this one I kept everything the same ISO400 f6.7 but set the shuuter to 1/60 to brighten up the bg a little more


Just because she wanted me to post this one smile


Thanks for the help.

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Being strictly Canon,I'm not sure how the Vivitar system operates-ETTL? TTL?

The 1st looks a little washed and the others look under exposed-to my eyes.

What white balance did you run?

IMHO-uninformed as it may be- grin,you should be able to get steller results with just a good on camera flash. The new SB900 Nikon is reputed to be able to replace ALOT of studio flash gear and get the job done better-or so I've heard from the west coast podcasters who are shooting the $15,000-$25,000 weddings. Mmmmmmmmm,I'd love to get in on some of that work. cool

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First off,what a beautiful little girl. I'm not really one to critique here but I will tell you my opinion for what it's worth. For my taste the first one has too much flash. Number 3 seems to have the most even lighting,it's my favorite. Number 2 is still nice and the last one is just adorable.

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What kind of look are you going for? I shoot a lot of outdoor portraits for team and individual work and they are fairly simple lighting techniques very close to what you have posted. If I'm doing seniors or special sportraits I use completely different lighting with strong lighting and harsh shadows.

One of the things both normally have in common is that I prefer to darken the background to make the subject stand out. I like some form of rim lighting to again make the subject pop from the background. Outdoors you can keep it simple or you can make it complex, just like studio work.

Your first shot is closer to what I do with team and individual shots, nice darker background, good lighting with no eye socket shadows. For a more formal look you could use a piece of white foam core camera right to add just a touch of fill to the right side of the face.

Your next three shots of your subject (your lovely daughter) are considerably underexposed. Because you have shot in the shade and the flash is acting as fill you have a blue cast. Notice in the first shot with your flash doing more of the lifting you don't have as bad a color cast. A CWB is really a necessity here.

Outdoors is a great time to be using High speed flash. You will not be limited by sync speed so you will have considerably more control over your background and you can let the camera do all the heavy lifting and just ride the FEC. If you are stuck with shooting in manual (I do about 95% of the time because of fixed distances) you will have less latitude over what look you want.

Shoot me an e-mail and I will give you some good information on outdoor flash work and the relationship of ISO, aperture and shutter speed.

dbleitch at aol dot com

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Thanks for the feedback guys! I have an SB800 but since I was shooting manual I just grabbed the Vivitar. It works just as well in manual, although with less adjustments. I can do the on-camera stuff in TTL but I want to get better at off-camera with multiple lights in different conditions so I'm trying to learn as much as I can.

Thanks Dan, for the info via email.

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