Sunday, August 28, 2016

I Stand Corrected - The Built In Bounce Card DOES Work!

Well, I got it handed to me royally, and was saved by the grace of a small piece of plastic hiding inside the head of my SB-900. The assignment was to get some candid photos of teachers, administrator, and support staff in a combination retreat and pep rally that was to prepare everybody for the upcoming fall semester.

At first, I thought I could get away with available light. While I had some Fuji cameras with me, I didn't have a short telephoto to bring me closer to students working on the other side of a table. I shifted by to a Nikon D600 and my 70-200 2.8 because it gave me the focal length and the vibration reduction that I needed. I still wasn't getting the contrast that I wanted when shooting nearly wide open, and the ambient lighting wasn't giving me much contrast.

Sample #1: ISO 1600, 1/60 second, F 4.5, 70-200mm 2.8 at 70mm
This shot (Sample #1) was typical. Lighting in these venues is pretty standard: Artificial light from above, combined with windows, gives a strange mixture of colors. 1/60 of a second was pretty much the norm (I was shooting at aperture priority), and unless my subject and I were perfectly still, I got some blurring caused by subject movement or camera movement, or both. I needed some help, and fast. 

Built In Bounce Card (BIBC): My savior was the built-in bounce card that is found in nearly all modern flashes/speedlights. Nikon has had them in their speedlights since the SB-25 (introduced in 1992). This was probably in response to a growing number of photographers who could now use automated exposure systems to properly expose bounce-lit photographs*. Savvy photographers started attaching 3" x 5" note card with rubber bands, sometimes bending them at angles to achieve a bit more light on the subject. I've run into an number of photographers who used the BIBC. I see them being used by other media photographer, usually by shooters who don't rely on speedlights as a primary light source. From my personal observation, those photographers that do have gone to the Gary Fong Light Cloud Dome, or some other variant.

Click here to watch a part of the National Geographic Video.
White House Press Photographer Pete Sousa can be seen using one in this screen capture from National Geographic's "The President’s Photographer". Here you can see the BIBC in action if you check 3:23. Note: If you follow the link at beneath the image, you'll be taken to a You Tube version of the documentary that is NOT narrated by Morgan Freeman. Don't know why.

Okay, it was good enough for Pete, it was good enough for me. I had never used the BIBC, and had considered it a fill flash at best. Because of it size, only a tiny fraction of the outbound light would be directed forward, with most of the flash output going straight up to hopefully bound off of a neutrally colored ceiling. It did get the light away from the lens axis, decreasing the chance of red-eyed subjects. But it's still ceiling bounced flash, not the best source of light. Here goes nothing.

ISO 1600, 1/200, F2.8

ISO 1600, 1/200, F 4.5

ISO 1600, 1/200, F 5.6

I was very pleased with how the BIBC performed, as low-tech as it was. All it really did was make the ceiling bounced light look better by providing show shadow fill. Period. 'But I'm thankful that I could use 1/200 of a second and small apertures for the shots, which nearly eliminated most subject movement while providing a suitable depth of field.

This tight crop of the last image shows that the BIBC pretty much does what it's supposed to do: Provide some fill in the shadows created by the ceiling bounce. The card itself is just large enough to create a visible catchlight and provides a decent amount of fill.

I won't pat myself on the back just yet. Those windows in the background are tinted, which allowed a fairly close balance between the outside/background and the inside flash-lit foreground. A full-blast outdoor background would have detracted from the overall feeling of the photos, and I'm thankful for that tinting.

*Vivitar was not the first automatic flash, but may have been the first to have a modular sensor that was stationary, and a flash head could be elevated to provide forward facing bounce flash. And the 283 was affordable for most hobbyists. It may well have allowed photographers to embrace bounce flash because it could automatically determine the amount of light necessary for a proper exposure, something that was normally done with some simple measurements, some educated guesswork, and a lot of luck.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

David Hobby's Improvised Light Modifier

To read the Digicam review, click here.
I was checking an interesting blog post Pro Photographer, Cheap Camera, a You Tube Channel from Hong Kong featuring professional photographers using toy or novelty cameras on location in Digital Rev TV. One episode that was most interesting featured guest photographer David Hobby. The camera he was given was a toy Buzz Lightyear digital camera.

Now Mr. Hobby is well known for his flash work, and his ability to improvise light modifiers what hand materials. He's made modifiers from shirt boxes, spaghetti boxes, and plastic dry cleaning bags. He's also used Tupperware to create a functional Lightsphere, but as he is quick to add, it gives the quality light but not necessarily the "pro" look. Granted, the lighting you use to achieve you photograph is more important to the actual technique or equipment you employ, something the viewer never sees. But if "style points" are important to you, you buy the genuine article. But if you're staring out or on a budget, his DIY approach may be the proper path to take.

Watch the video by clicking on the "play button". You get to watch Mr. Hobby eat snake soup, work with people who don't understand English, and generally coax surprisingly good photos under predictably difficult conditions.

The screen shot at the right was taken from the video at 21:54. You are about to see him make a light "dome" by inflating a paper bag and shooting his flash through it. When I saw it, I looked around in my office for something that I might use as  a modifier. I found no paper bag, but did remember I used a similar dodge when photographing in the rain a while back. My original intent was to protect my equipment from the rain with a plastic bag, but as it turned out, the bag helped to expand the sphere of my light, and give me a softer quality of light.
tographer is as good as the simplest camera. -Edward Steichen 1 Most things in life are moments of pleasure and a lifetime of embarrassment; photography is a moment of embarrassment and a lifetime of pleasure. – Tony Benn 1 Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter. – Ansel Adams 1 Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment. – Ansel Adams 1 is my intention to present – through the medium of photography – intuitive observations of the natural world which may have meaning to the spectators. – Ansel Adams 1 Not everybody trusts paintings but people believe photographs. – Ansel Adams 1 Always seeing something, never seeing nothing, being photographer. – Walter De Mulder 1 Photography is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality. – Alfred Stieglitz 1 The Earth is Art, The Photographer is only a Witness. – Yann Arthus Bertrand 1 What i like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce. – Karl Lagerfeld 1 The photograph itself doesn’t interest me. I want only to capture a minute part of reality. -Henri Cartier Bresson 1 I never question what to do, it tells me what to do. The photographs make themselves with my help. -Ruth Bernhard «123Next » Submit A Quote Browse Quotes By Subject By Author Popular Topics Alcohol Anger Anniversary Attitude Baby Beauty Being Ignored Being Single Being Unappreciated Being Used Being Yourself Best Friend Breakup Brother Cheating Childhood Clever Coffee College Cowboy Daughter Depression Disappointment Ego Enemy Environment Ex Expectation Facebook Status Family Father Flirting Friendship Girly God Goodbye Gossip Grandfather Horse Husband Hypocrisy Insecurity Inspirational Insult Jealousy Karma Life Loneliness Love Loyalty Memory Missing You Mistake Mother Past Perfection Pirate Sad Sarcastic Silence Sister Smile Smoking Soccer Son Sorry Stop Caring Stupid Thank You Trust Waiting Wife Wise View All Funny Awkward Moments Funny Birthday Quotes Funny Golf Quotes Funny Marriage Quotes Funny Men Quotes Funny Women Quotes Short Funny Quotes Witty Quotes Official Facebook Page Join us on Facebook

Source :
No photographer is as good as the simplest camera. -Edward Steichen

Source :
No photographer is as good as the simplest camera. -Edward Steichen

Source :

The full post can be seen here.

This pair of photos shows a plastic bag covering a Gary Fong Light Sphere. You can see that the size of the light source is more than doubled by this simple addition.

It just goes to show that sometimes if doesn't take much to improve the quality of light Sure, white walls, when available, make a great bounce surface, but a plastic bag may do in a pinch.

Quotes. Speaking of equipment, here a some clever quotes to remind one that it isn't always the equipment that makes the photo.

“A photographer went to a socialite party in New York. As he entered the front door, the host said ‘I love your pictures – they’re wonderful; you must have a fantastic camera.’ He said nothing until dinner was finished, then (said) ‘That was a wonderful dinner; you must have a terrific stove.'” By Sam Haskins.

No photographer is as good as the simplest camera. Edward Steichen

Scoff not the other man's camera - It may contain the photos you should have taken. Simon Nathan.