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Thread: Senior Prom Photo Help

  1. #1
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    Senior Prom Photo Help

    I have just been asked to take photographs of four couples (two of the couples feature my kids) around 5pm today. I plan on using a 5d3 (or my 60D), a 430X flash and plan on using a Sigma 35 1.4 along with a Canon 70-200 2.8IS II.

    I mostly photograph baseball, birds and nature, I take lousy people photos and almost never use flash. I typically shoot with auto iso and use manual shutter speed and f stop. These photos will be outdoor on my front lawn, in the backround there will be plenty of shrubs, a few flowers and a red maple. The house will block the sun that will be starting to set in the back yard. I can also go to the backyard where there is more sun and a white six foot tall fence if that is a better setup.

    I assume that I should use flash as the subject will be in the shade (house will block direct sun). Should I mount the flash on the camera, if not where? Which lens do you prefer for full body portraits and what camera (and flash) settings do you suggest? I realize that this is last minute and not so easy to get great photos without decent gear and much more knowledge than I have.

    Any advise is appreciated.

    Thank you,
    Scott

  2. #2
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    I'm sure others here will offer suggestions as well...but for what it's worth...

    You may not have to use flash if the lighting outdoors is adequate (even in the shade), but it would certainly help for fill. If you have the flash on-camera, I suggest it would be best to just use as fill light...probably have to dial back the flash exposure compensation to keep away from the distinctive on-camera-flash look.

    If you can, it would certainly help to move the flash off-camera. If you do that, what do you intend to use to trigger the flash? Do you have any modifier (eg umbrella or diffuser)? Do you have a light stand or some way of mounting the light? You could tie it to a tree or just have someone hold it if necessary. For positioning, it would really depend on where the main light is (likely the sun). Often lights are positioned above lens axis and to one side. So basically pointing slightly down on the subjects and slightly from one side. Without knowing the specifics of the location it's hard to give exact recommendations. Perhaps it would be best to try a few with the flash on-camera and vary the flash exposure compensation and then have someone hold the flash and move it for a couple different shots. Try a few things and see what works best in your situation. Best thing about digital is if you don't like it you can just delete it!

    Stephen

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    I'm fearful the photos will be dull without the flash. I have a large white foam board that I can setup overhead and bounce the flash off. Not sure what height I want the board to be, I guess about 8 feet? Obviously I have no experience with portraits and very little experience with using flash. I am pretty handy and could easily mount the flash off camera (ladder, tripod, tree limb, etc). I was under the impression that the camera could automatically trigger the off camera flash, I guess I'm wrong.

    Keep in mind a newbie at this camera setting and flash settings would be helpful as well.

    Thanks for the tips, keep them coming. I promise to post a photo or two if they turn out decent.

  4. #4
    Senior Member EricPvpi's Avatar
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    You can use the 60D to trigger the 430 EX flash.

  5. #5
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    Your 60d can trigger your flash, but the 5d3 cannot. The 60d uses the pop-up flash on the camera to send a signal to the flash. So it can basically only be used line-of sight....meaning the flash sensor will have to be in front of your camera. I believe Canon gives the range outdoors as approx 23ft within a 80degree arc in front of the pop-up flash. You might want to try this out before hand to make sure you are familiar with the controls for wireless control of the flash as it can sometimes be confusing. The manual for the flash and camera should explain the operation OK....I've used it when I had my 7d and didn't have any real problems, but it is not exactly intuitive.

    Using the foam board would definately help. You can basically use that as a reflector. Aim the light direcly at the board and you will essentially make your light source as large as the board (this is a good thing as it softens the light). Note that you may have to increase the strength of the flash. Also, don't forget to angle the board towards your subjects for best effect. Above and to one side of your subjects is definately a good place to start. If you are in direct sunlight for any shots, you could also place the board below and in front of the subjects to reflect upwards and help fight any deep shadows.

    If you want to use the 5d3 with the flash, keep in mind that you can mount the flash on the hotshoe and swivel the head to fire towards the board above the subjects.

    If you have time, it would definately help to go out and try a couple shots to see the different effects of moving the flash and board. Even if the lighting changes before the final shoot, at least you get some idea of what to expect and practice controling the flash. At least it is family so they should be patient!

    Good luck and don't forget to post the results!

    Stephen

  6. #6
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    I took some prom pictures recently with the 1DX and Canon 35mm f/1.4L

    I intentionally looked for a slightly shady spot to avoid harsh light and I used the 580EXII flash on camera just for fill. I set the flash to manual on a very low setting like 1/32 power. It worked very well.


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    Joel,
    I cannot see you photo "Content Protected by Owner." I'll set the flash to 1/32 and give it a shot. Being that the Sigma 35 is similar to your Canon 35, I'll use it. I gather it would be best to have my subject (group or one couple at a time) closer to the camera than the back-round (house). Is there a rule of thumb, say six feet from camera and twelve feet from the house that I should try to follow?

  8. #8
    Administrator Sean Setters's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Always Looking View Post
    Joel,
    I cannot see you photo "Content Protected by Owner."
    But look at the wonderful lighting on that Content Warning. It's got a great gradient. Did you shoot that warning with a softbox, Joel? Feathered, maybe?? :-)

  9. #9
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    I clicked on the link below Joel's post, saw a couple on a bridge but I needed a password to view the link. While browsing his site, I did notice a bird photo or two of Joel's private bird sanctuary in his backyard...

  10. #10
    Administrator Sean Setters's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Always Looking View Post
    I'm fearful the photos will be dull without the flash. I have a large white foam board that I can setup overhead and bounce the flash off. Not sure what height I want the board to be, I guess about 8 feet? Obviously I have no experience with portraits and very little experience with using flash. I am pretty handy and could easily mount the flash off camera (ladder, tripod, tree limb, etc). I was under the impression that the camera could automatically trigger the off camera flash, I guess I'm wrong.

    Keep in mind a newbie at this camera setting and flash settings would be helpful as well.

    Thanks for the tips, keep them coming. I promise to post a photo or two if they turn out decent.
    I like the foam board idea if you don't have any other type of diffusion. You might have someone holding it above/in front of the subjects and bounce the flash off the white foam board using the Canon 60D to trigger the off-camera flash. It's a bit finicky as far as a setup is concerned, but I think it's doable.

    I've used off-camera flash once or twice....I liked the results. ;-)

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