This is our first technical threat and this is the best time to put something important straight. We are going to present a lot of cool and useful stuff to you. You cannot make a photo without a camera and flashes and with each camera or flash there is a certain brand involved. Technical presentations can easily be mistaken with a hidden commercial. You readers decide what you think about it.
We want to state, that all of the things we are going to present to you are used by ourselves and the only reason we show them to you is THAT we use them. You can waste a lot of money buying the wrong gear. Take the posts, take all the information into your brain, think about it and make you own decisions, whatever we say.
Ok… enough of the chatting. Lets get started. Our topic today is Flash2Softbox, a small but fine system to add studio lighting solutions to your small but genius on-camera-flash. This way, you get all of the advantages from your known studio on location. You get a whole set for the price of one of our studio softboxes.
A lot of shootings are made with these little wonderful pieces of lighting gear. Some of you will be astonished to know how many of our photos are NOT made with 10000 Euros of gear. Our whole set of Flash2Softbox lighting solutions cost about 300 Euros. Softboxes, snoot, barndoors, colorgels, grids… everything is in the bag weighing around 3kg all together. Could it be any better???? NO!!!
In the following post, we are going to prove this solution by pure photographs. We don’t want to tell you something about a great piece of lighting gear without proving our statements. You have to see the qualities and possibilities yourself and we are giving you the chance to do so.
But first we want to make clear HOW WE USE THE F2S-SYSTEM:
- First lighting solution is directed for total mobility. As you see on the photos we only use one softbox connected to the camera and held with one hand. With this version you clearly reach every spot in the world.
- Second solution would be heavier but still very mobile. Then we carry the whole system of five different lighting enhancer with us. Softboxes, snoot, grids, colorgels and barndoors for three flashes. Together with three Manfrotto NANO 001 light stands. With this combination you keep yourself the ability to form the light from hard to soft with a total weight of about six kilograms of gear.
Example 1 (Shot with one Canon 580 EX and small 1m ETTL-cord.):
Example 2 (Shot with one CANON 580 EX II and ETTL-cord.):
Example 3 (Again, one 580 EX II with the long ETTL-cord.):
Up to now, all of the images were taken with a flash set to automatic exposure control. In case of the Canon flashes ETTL. How do you control your lighting? Here is a simple step-by-step chart. If you are advanced in photography, skip reading points one to three.
- You set your camera to AV-Mode and set your preferred aperture.
- Then take a photo at the background with a wide angle shot and look at the result.
- If the result is too bright or too dark, then adjust the camera over the EV-control.
- Make a new photo and check the lighting of the background.
- If the background looks like you wish it to be, then memorize the f-stop, ISO and exposure time.
- Switch to the M-Mode and copy your remembered settings.
- Switch on the flash in TTL-Mode. The easiest way to connect the flash to the camera is to get an “TTL-cord” (~20 €).
- Have a look at what you want to aim the camera. You have to adjust the flash-EV at the back of you flash if you want to e.g. photograph a black cat.
- That’s it… if you are fast and used to the steps, then it will take you five seconds and no longer!!!
The other option is to manually set the flashes to a certain power level and trigger the flashes over a radio signal. This way you can’t use the automatic. No problem at all when have a steady setup but it is just not possible when you want to run around and make photos while changing the distance between the flash and the model.
Good to know for you: When you have no fixed distance for your shooting between the light source and the model, then you should try to use the automatic. When you have fixed positions for your shoot, then the good old manual way is far more secure.
Example 4 (Shot with one SB-28 triggered by one PocketWizard.):
Finally we want to show you some comparisons. You can have a look at the same setup/scene one with flash activated and then with no flash at all.
For those of you asking yourself why we didn’t just make the exposure time longer, here is the answer. If you make the image brighter either with the exposure time or the f-stop, you not only make the face of the model brighter but also the background. A lot of times, and this is the case in the images down below, you want to have a slightly underexposed background to get rid of burned out white. The sky e.g. is almost always very bright and you only get some texture into the sky by a estimated underexposure of one to two f-stops. .
What you can notice very easily is the look of the slightly underexposed background together with the correct lit foreground. The model gets a totally different look.
BY THE WAY… ever heard of HIGHSPEEDSYNC. We will work with the topic an the next technical tutorial. The topic is way too much information for this post.
We are currently cutting a video about the topic Flash2Softbox. You see how important the system is for us. Surely, it does not compete to our normal mobile flash generators. It doesn’t have 4000Ws of flash power. But it does not need to have.
We started the process of “lighting-gear-learning” in the last post about a flash setting. The little edge to perfect photography is to make the best thing out of your possibilities. Here you got this handy system. You can get smooth lighting or hard light wherever you go. So go out and use it that way. Find spots someone could never shoot with a 10kg mobile Generator and make priceless photographs.
The last image we want to share with you is a photo out of a camcorder. So sorry for the quality but you get the point. Its the making-of shot of the last comparison above. Ever tried to carry a flash generator in a backpack 5 hours through the snowy forest and having your five meter boom stand (~30kg) with you???
Everything we had with us, were some double pairs of gloves and a backpack with the camera, flash, softbox and the small light stand attached to it.
We know that you want more details about specific lighting setups. Ok, this is no SETUP-post but there are a lot of cool setups involved so let’s get deeper into the details. Let’s explain one lighting setup. Let’s call it BONUS-SETUP-POST :-)
Three flashes used in this setup. Two barndoors with a grid in it on each side of the model. The little 40cm x 40 cm softbox in front of the model.
F5.6 ISO 200 1/200s
Main light with Canon 580 EX II at 1/2, the two grids outside adjusted to 1/4 power.
As you have already noticed, the setups look pretty symmetric. We love symmetric arrangements in photography. But there is more involved in this setup. One point is the position of the main light. The small softbox. A great advantage already mentioned is the weight of the lighting solutions of Flash2Softbox. Together with a good boom stand (in this case the MANRFOTTO COMBI BOOM) it is fantastic. You can get into positions with your flash never thought of. OK, the position on the image above is not sooooooooo damm cool. But if you keep on reading our blog, we will show you the proove.
No matter what, the boom stand is the best friend of the Flash2Softbox system. This is because the softboxes e.g. are normally not as big as they are in studio photography. So you have to work against that factor by reducing the distance between softbox and model. And you can only do this freely, when you don’t have the pole of the stand in your view. You see… the boom stand! Take a close look at the photo. It is lit with a 40cm times 40cm softbox. You can see that point but the light is beautiful soft. Don’t be fooled by the making-of photograph. The distance between the softbox and her face was about one meter only.
The rest of the setting is fairly simple. Two grids from both sides of the model from about half a meter above the head. The grid controls your light and focus the light onto your model. Be sure to aim carefully and always check the direction from exactly behind the model.
That’s it… a simple but cool lighting made with three on-camera flashes. HERE YOU GO!
Some time ago, we did a “last-summer-winter-cold-and-rainy-shooting” with Carolyn. We had no time to show the results. Until now… All photos were made with a square 40x40cm Flash2Softbox softbox.
For all the photographers out there: The tricky thing is to balance your flash and your surrounding daylight. We always set up the camera for a slightly underexposed image (around 2/3 f-stop) and then adjust the flash to a slightly overexposed power (around 1/3 f-stop plus). This way, you get a complete fstop difference between the background and the mannequin without destroying the natural look of the background.
This is a really good example for the described way of lighting. An anderexposed background and a bit more flashlight on the face to get this shiny and bright look. The small softbox supports this method really good because the face is most of the time the closest part of the modell to the lightsource and therefor the rest of the modell does NOT get the same f-stop-difference between flash and AL.
All photos were shot with wide open aperture lenses (85mm 1.2 or 50mm 1.2). The extra clean look was accomplished using a little softbox for a on-camera-flash being handheld just next to the camera. The system is the FLASH2SOFTBOX-system. It is a great way of enhancing your photos with a minimim of equipement and without heavy weight flash systems.
Best thing for you as a photographer: You can use your TTL-light-messuring mode and you can just focus on your photos. The correct flash-metering is made absolutly automatically.
Here you can see the use of the system with a 40x40cm Softbox.
Enough for now… get out and make some beautiful winter shots…