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Coalition Films

The Off Camera Flash Tutorial

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I’m going to assume that everyone reading this knows how to use a flash, because if you don’t, you shouldn’t be worrying about how to use 2 off camera flashes. The reason for using off camera flashes is to get better, or less “flat” lighting. It’ll make your photo more interesting, and it will look much nicer, with all the shadows and highlights, than on camera flash looks. For starters, the simplest way to trigger 2 off camera flashes is by radio slaves. The most common ones are LPA Design’s Pocketwizard system. Quantum also makes radio slaves, but if you want to learn more about that, there are reviews in this section. Another, more complicated way to trigger 2 flashes is by using sync cords. I don’t know much about this, so I’m not going to try and explain it.

 

Flash placement is the most difficult thing to learn, because for every situation it’s different. I’m going to draw some very awesome illustrations for examples of placements (this is basically the same as skateboardphotography.com’s tutorial, but hell, I learned a shit load from that.)

 

Placement One:

I used this for my photos on the bank at LA High. Some people seemed to like the photos so I guess I’ll explain what I did.

 

bankillustration5nm.jpg

 

50504kx.jpg

Gear details: Sunpak 383, Nikon SB-25, Nikon D2H, Nikkor 50mm f1.4, Pocketwizards

 

The rimlight was 8 feet away, so I used the equation Aperture = Guide Number of the flash / Distance.

The guide number on that flash is 118, so I did Aperture = 118/8, which is 14.75, and the closest fstop on the flash to that is 16, so I chose 16.

 

My second flash sucks, so I cannot choose the aperture, so I just had to guess the distance, and I got lucky. But, you would use the same equation to get the fstop of that flash. My best advice would be to write that equation down and keep it in your bag.

 

For the camera part, I exposed the shot correctly, and then underexposed the shot by 2 stops. For this one, the ambient was at f4 at 1/250, so I went to f8 at 1/250.

 

Placement Two:

This was my placement for my photo at Fairfax high, it’s fairly similar to the one I used at LA High, but I’ll draw a picture anyways.

 

fairfaxplacement0zu.jpg

 

danteollie8zf.jpg

Gear details: Sunpak 383, Nikon SB-25, Nikon D2H, Nikkor 50mm f1.4, Pocketwizards

 

The rimlight was 6 feet away, so, again, 118/6 = 20…closest fstop is f22, so I chose f22. My other flash, as previously stated, sucks, so I just had to guess the distance.

 

As for my camera, I only underexposed the ambient light by 1 stop, so the ambient was f4 at 1/250, so I set my camera to f5.6 at 1/250.

 

Side Note: every flash has a guide number, that describes the power of the flash.

The sunpak 555 has a guide number of 150 at iso 100, the 544 is 140 at iso 100, the vivitar 285 has a guide number of 120 at iso 100.

 

 

I hope this has helped, and if you guys have any questions, just ask me, and I’ll answer them as best I can.

 

Also, feel free to make additions.

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THANK YOU !!!

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theres pne thing i dont understand. im a total idiot about flashes. from what i understand youre saying theres an aperture on the flash? explain this further if you dont mind. and that whole equation thing. like where did you get 118?

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theres pne thing i dont understand. im a total idiot about flashes. from what i understand youre saying theres an aperture on the flash? explain this further if you dont mind. and that whole equation thing. like where did you get 118?

Whoa, i completely meant to go into more detail about that.

 

Anyways, every flash has a guide number, that describes the power of the flash.

The sunpak 555 has a guide number of 150 at iso 100, the 544 is 140 at iso 100, the vivitar 285 has a guide number of 120 at iso 100.

 

The flashes you'd want to use for skateboarding (555, 544, 285, Qflashes, SB-800, SB-600, 580-EX, etc) have aperatures that you can set.

 

so you just devide the guide number of your flash by the distance the flash is from the skater, and when you get the answer, set the aperature to the closest number. so if you get 19, go to 22, if you get 3.1, go to 4, 5...go to 5.6, etc.

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Im pretty sure your flashes will have a chart or a calulator of some type where you dont have to do the equation....like the dial on 285's, and charts on some other flashes. And which flash were you referring to when you say "sucks"....the sunpak 383? This was good, but you anyflash where you know the guide number and and its on full you should be able to calculate.

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Im pretty sure your flashes will have a chart or a calulator of some type where you dont have to do the equation....like the dial on 285's, and charts on some other flashes. And which flash were you referring to when you say "sucks"....the sunpak 383? This was good, but you anyflash where you know the guide number and and its on full you should be able to calculate.

Yeah, the 383 "sucks" because there are barely any manual settings on it (only flash power).

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badass thread dude.... cudos.

 

 

i haven't ever used a 285, but that's what i plan on going with once i FINALLY build a PW system... they've got ALL the manual controls, right?

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Yeah, I was wondering about that flash....but you still dont have to guess. You should be able to calculate correctly.

 

Oh and when you are figuring distances out if the film speed is 400 distances are doubled and if the iso is 25 then distances are halved.(for everybody, not strictly you)

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Yeah, I was wondering about that flash....but you still dont have to guess. You should be able to calculate correctly.

 

Oh and when you are figuring distances out if the film speed is 400 distances are doubled and if the iso is 25 then distances are halved.(for everybody, not strictly you)

honestly, i've been wondering that myself.

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Nice. Very useful information, and you cleared up some questions I have had for a while.

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For flashes, I love my minolta's. They both have pretty good manual settings

 

DV20060102000513.jpg

 

It also has a backlight on the dial which comes in amazingly super handy at night.

 

DV20060102000534.jpg

 

Its got pretty much every possible way to hook up to it. I use PC cords and can make a model of them if you want to show how they work (its not hard at all, and cheap)

 

I also have a lesser version (the one shown is the 360px) which is the minolta180 i think which has alot of the same functions.

 

Just alittle input for you guys who only hear sunpack 555's and vivitars

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Yes the minolta dial is quite nice, I messed around with one at a Camera store. As for the the 383, you said all it has is power changing options...isnt that all the viv 285 has...cuz i was actually looking at the 383 and simalar flashes on ebay.

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very nice of you to add this as a guide.

 

i think that someone should post a step by step of what they do when they get up to a spot.

i know there was a thread about it, but it seemed to have got outta hand and i think it would be nice if someone went into detail about it.

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very nice of you to add this as a guide.

 

i think that someone should post a step by step of what they do when they get up to a spot.

i know there was a thread about it, but it seemed to have got outta hand and i think it would be nice if someone went into detail about it.

i can do that right now.

 

I roll up to the spot, ask the skater what he's gonna do. then set my shit down and look around the spot for a minute or two, looking for angles and flash placement. I then get out the body im going to shoot with, choose my favorite angle, set the camera down right there (make sure no one steps on it), and then proceed to set the flashes up where i think they'll give me the best rimlight and frontlight. I get all my flashes and pocketwizards connected, then do the equations, turn on the flashes, put in the settings, turn on my transmitter, connect it to the camera, and shabam, you're good to go.

 

its pretty self explanitory, im pretty sure every one does roughly the same thing.

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thanks for this, simple walkthroughts like this with demenstrations are amazing.

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Guest rhys
The rimlight was 8 feet away, so I used the equation Aperture = Guide Number of the flash / Distance.

The guide number on that flash is 118, so I did Aperture = 118/8, which is 14.75, and the closest fstop on the flash to that is 16, so I chose 16.

 

how do i know te guide number of the flash i understand the rest i think but thats all i dont understand

thanks

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Whoa, i completely meant to go into more detail about that.

 

Anyways, every flash has a guide number, that describes the power of the flash.

The sunpak 555 has a guide number of 150 at iso 100, the 544 is 140 at iso 100, the vivitar 285 has a guide number of 120 at iso 100.

 

The flashes you'd want to use for skateboarding (555, 544, 285, Qflashes, SB-800, SB-600, 580-EX, etc) have aperatures that you can set.

 

so you just devide the guide number of your flash by the distance the flash is from the skater, and when you get the answer, set the aperature to the closest number. so if you get 19, go to 22, if you get 3.1, go to 4, 5...go to 5.6, etc.

then is that the same aperture you use on your camera?

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then is that the same aperture you use on your camera?

no, thats not what i do. I meter for my flashes, and then, seperatly, meter for ambient, and underexpose the ambient by 2 stops.

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or u can buy a flash meter <_< nah this is good shit bro,

 

you schould completly understand how this all works before you buy a flash meter

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no, thats not what i do.  I meter for my flashes, and then, seperatly, meter for ambient, and underexpose the ambient by 2 stops.

Alright i thought i had this down already but mabey not...Is this correct....Say you meter your ambient and its 1/250 at F8....Then you set your flashes to give you F8...then if you want to underexpose the background you close down to F11, F16, or whatever? Mabey this is the same thing you just said but in a different way.

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No,if you underexpose the flash and the ambient then you'll just have a crappy photo. but if ambient is f/8 then you set flashes for f/11 f/16(for 2 stops) and you set your camera to f/11 or f/16 then you should come out with something decent.

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