Pump me full of flash photogrpahy!


ElRazur

Link Posted 27/08/2010 - 21:09
I just purchased the AF360FGZ, and am wondering what tips and what not can people give please? I know very little or nothing about flash photography, so please kindly educate me in the basics of it all. Thanks.
Last Edited by ElRazur on 27/08/2010 - 21:15

Galoot

Link Posted 27/08/2010 - 22:08
From my own experience,

1. Never use flash, so throw it away

2. If you feel you have to use it, try candles or matches or torches first

3. Never use 'Auto' on the flash, set it to manual and take lots of test shots at various apertures

4. Get "MattMatic's" guide to Pentax Flash if you feel you want to go down the flash route.


p.s. - No.4 can be substituted for No.1, Matt's guide is excellent.




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Dangermouse

Link Posted 27/08/2010 - 22:11
The most useful thing you can own with a flash is a diffuser, I posted a link to a cheap ebay one recently in this section which is worth far more than the purchase price if it'll fit your flashgun.

Other than that, get out there and play with it! Try bouncing flash off ceilings or similar (assuming your flash has a tiltable head), and look at the effect this gives you compared to direct flash. The best way to learn is to experiment, especially as with digital it doesn't cost you a penny to fire off a few dozen shots while searching for an effect you like.
Matt

Shooting the Welsh Wilderness with K-m, KX, MX, ME Super and assorted lenses.

Don

Link Posted 27/08/2010 - 22:13
I'm strictly an available light shooter.
That means any and every lightsource available is good to use.

you can't go wrong buying Mattmatic's book.


then experiment and practice...

the lighting 101 section of Strobist.com is good info as well.
Fired many shots. Didn't kill anything.
Last Edited by Don on 27/08/2010 - 22:13

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Galoot

Link Posted 27/08/2010 - 23:10
I feel I may have put you off flash forever, that was not my intention.

Don is right, experiment and practice is the key, you won't get flash right every time.

I took a few test shots here at different apertures, bounced the flash from a light coloured wall on the right, got someone to hold a white bed-sheet on the left to reflect the light and it seemed to work out all right.

I did smooth the back-ground in PhotoShop, but ignore that, I was trying to show you can get even lighting with one flash and a wee bit of creative thinking, i.e. a bed-sheet.

K10D + 18-55mm Pentax kit lens + Pentax AF500FTZ flash on manual.

It seems to me that the flash light is even and not harsh ?




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Don

Link Posted 27/08/2010 - 23:29
nice shot Galoot...
don't overlook the shoot through umbrella...


or reflectors:


both images shot with a single af 360 fgz...
Fired many shots. Didn't kill anything.
Last Edited by Don on 27/08/2010 - 23:29

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Galoot

Link Posted 27/08/2010 - 23:49
That's a shot from me and a couple from Don, get going with your new flash, and we want to see your pictures.

There is a lot to experiment with, what if I had used a green satin sheet as the reflector, what would the results have been like ?

You can try that for me ?
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matwhittington

Link Posted 28/08/2010 - 08:53
I second the tip to get a diffuser. I don't use flash a huge amount, and I don't feel I have quite 'mastered' it myself, but I tend to get much better results (a) using a diffuser and (b) using the controls on the flashgun to dial down the flash power to avoid getting blown highlights (especially if close up) - same is true when using the onboard flash as well. Echo the advice to go and have a play and see what seems to work

Regards
Mat W

My Flickr: link

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thoughton

Link Posted 28/08/2010 - 09:32
I use my flash (same model as yours) quite often. My best beginner's tip would be to whenever possible ALWAYS bounce it off something. The ceiling usually works best, or you can rotate your camera to portrait orientation and bounce off the wall instead.
Tim
AF - Pentax K5, Sigma 10-20/4-5.6, Tamron 17-50/2.8, Sigma 30/1.4, Sigma 70-200/2.8, Tamron 70-300/4-5.6
MF - Vivitar CF 28/2.8, Tamron AD2 90/2.5, MTO 1000/11
Stuff - Metz 58 AF1, Cactus v4, Nikon SB24, Raynox 150, Sigma 1.4x TC, Sigma 2x TC, Kenko 2x macro TC, Redsnapper 283 tripod, iMac 27, Macbook Pro 17, iPad, iPhone 3G
Flickr Fluidr PPG Street Portfolio site
Feel free to edit any of my posted photos! If I post a photo for critique, I want brutal honesty. If you don't like it, please say so and tell me why!

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ElRazur

Link Posted 28/08/2010 - 11:16
Thank you guys.

Galoot scared the jesus out of me with his initial comments lol.

I have to admit that it is a bit overwhelming at the moment, I just bought a kx with twin lens, photoshop elements and now the flash gun. There is so much to learn lol.

As per the flash, I just went through the manual and most of it is not making much sense to me at this point, I mean, what is pttl Having said that, the manual can do with a bit of more clarity. I guess this is where I get to pay for the mattmatics book lol (Any link to this actual book please)

So far I just bolted it on the camera and tried taking some portrait shots of my house hold and to be honest it looks pretty rubbish lol. Too harsh and looks kinda flat, so I welcome all tips.

I have been asked to help take some portraits picture of a friend, and I have agreed so as to see what I can do etc. Hence I am wondering if this single flash gun is okay for what I want to do? (Basically, high key type of portraits) I also have couple of "Bownes Espirit 250" and hardly use them, so do you guys think the Pentax flashgun should be okay to achieve result like some of those posted in this thread, if used alone?

Thanks and apologies for the long post lol.


PS
May post some more as I am playing with the camera and flash gun.
Last Edited by ElRazur on 28/08/2010 - 11:27

Smeggypants

Link Posted 28/08/2010 - 11:17
I made a diffuser by using a sturdy A5 sized bubble wrap jiffy bag, lined the back with foil and used stick on velcro so I could attach it firmly to the head. I generally use it with the head at 45 deg. Works a treat and makes a huge difference
[i]Bodies: 1x K-5IIs, 2x K-5, Sony TX-5, Nokia 808
Lenses: Pentax DA 10-17mm ED(IF) Fish Eye, Pentax DA 14mm f/2.8, Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8, Pentax-A 28mm f/2.8, Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC, Pentax-A 50mm f/1.2, Pentax-A 50mm f/1.4, Pentax-FA 50mm f/1.4, Pentax-A 50mm f/1.7, Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8, Sigma 135-400mm APO DG, and more ..
Flash: AF-540FGZ, Vivitar 283

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ElRazur

Link Posted 28/08/2010 - 11:25
What about the built in "diffuser"? You know that plastic thing that goes over the flash (and also the white paper)

By the way, how do I adjust the strength or power of the flash? What mode is best to shoot in on the Kx etc.

matwhittington

Link Posted 28/08/2010 - 12:00
I use the 540 flash but I imagine the 360 controls are pretty much the same. To adjust the power I use the 'S' button which is within the rotating dial control to select the parameter to be adjusted (the parameter flashes on the LCD display when it is selected), then make the adjustment using the rotating dial, clockwise or anti-clockwise, then press 'S' again to stop it flashing and establish that setting. So if you are in P-TTL mode you can press 'S' to select the amount of exposure compensation (there will be a scale similar to that you might get on the camera for doing exposure adjustments in manual mode) and you can dial the flash down to, say, -0.5, or all the way down to -3. Can dial up a little as well if you wish I think. If you are in manual mode, you can use the same procedure but instead use the dial to make the output 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 or whatever. The default in Manual, I think, is 1/1 so you'll just be changing the denominator of that power output expressed as a fraction on the flash display.

Hope that makes sense
Mat W

My Flickr: link

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Anvh

Link Posted 28/08/2010 - 12:52
ElRazur wrote:
What about the built in "diffuser"? You know that plastic thing that goes over the flash (and also the white paper)

By the way, how do I adjust the strength or power of the flash? What mode is best to shoot in on the Kx etc.

That diffuser is when you use it for wide angle lenses, the diffuser most mean here are omni-bounces but I already have said quite some negatives about that in another thread so won't repeat here.

Like Tim already suggest bounce the flash off from something indoors, just leave the flash in P-TTL and point it at the ceiling for example, that gives a far more natural light. If you bounce it like that you can use that white card thing, it's called a catch light, simply it catch some of the flash light and you can see that back in the eyes of your subject so they have a little twinkle in their eyes.

As for shooting modes, for the flash use P-TTL for now and set the camera in M mode.
With the camera you can than control 3 things, ISO, Shutter speed and diaphragm.
- ISO, is a globe control so it influence the flash and the ambient light, the higher you set it the less the flash needs to work or the further it can reach and the more bright the ambient light becomes.
- diaphragm, Also controls both lighting in the same manner.
- Shutterspeed, does nothing for the flash because the flash duration is 1/10000th of a second but the longer you the shutter time the more ambient light there will be in your photo so with that you can balance things. If you want a bright subject but a dark background, you light the subject up with the flash and use a very short shutterspeed so that no ambient light from the back ground comes on the sensor.

Normally the flash can only go down to 1/180 of a second to sync with the camera but the AF360FGZ has High Speed Sync (HSS) that allows you to use faster shutter speeds but it comes with the penalty that the flash power is lower, the flash strobes so the flash duration is not 1/10000th but just as fast as your shutterspeed so you can't freeze water-drops with it for example.

Did I miss anything???


If you have older lenses without an auto aperture, you can't use the P-TTL but you can use the Auto mode in those situation and it works the same way.
Stefan


K10D, K5
DA* 16-50, DA* 50-135, D-FA 100 Macro, DA 40 Ltd, DA 18-55
AF-540FGZ

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ElRazur

Link Posted 28/08/2010 - 15:07
Anvh wrote:
[quote:3496ace15f="ElRazur"]

As for shooting modes, for the flash use P-TTL for now and set the camera in M mode.
.

Thanks man for your input.

Are you saying I should set the camera to Manual mode (and not the flash) right?
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