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Old January 2nd, 2009, 10:20 AM   #1
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Outdoor flash diffuser?

One of my roommate's friends is getting married in April and they weren't planning on hiring a photographer, but when they heard that my roommate and I do it as a hobby they asked if we wanted to do their wedding. It's a pretty sweet deal because since we're not getting paid, they don't expect us to produce really professional pictures or anything. Basically it's a great opportunity to get some first hand experience (and practice...haha).

Anyway...the wedding is going to be in the evening, so I'll probably need a flash, but my Stofen Omnibounce is still really harsh outdoors at night. Is there a better flash diffuser for that situation? The couple doesn't want the usual planned picture time at the wedding, so I doubt we'll be renting any lighting equipment...nothing big anyway.

Thanks for any ideas!
Jeff
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 01:41 PM   #2
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Use the Sto-fen but angle it either 45 up or to the side. You might want to switch it over to manual mode, if you have it, and drop it down in power. I know my Canon 430ex can go down to 1/64th.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 02:02 PM   #3
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i use stofen
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 04:58 PM   #4
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Where is the ceremony and reception? Are both outdoors? Time of day? What kind of light around that time? And I bet the couple does want some photos, but just aren't willing to pay for a photographer, so you should still try to get some nice "planned" shots. If it's completely dark out for the reception and there's little to no lighting (gotta have at least some), you're going to have pretty flashy looking photos anyways, short of renting a D700 and some f/1.4 glass.

If you keep your camera settings cranked up so that you're only using 2-3 stops worth of flash power, photos can look quite nice. But if you seriously have no light then even that's not gonna happen. Buy or rent a 50mm f/1.4G AF-S and go to town.
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Old January 8th, 2009, 11:25 AM   #5
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They do want some good pictures, but they're not going crazy and stopping any shows to get them.

The wedding and reception are going to be at a vinyard here in Texas. From what the bride has told us, both will be outdoors (weather permitting), but the reception is going to be on a long narrow, covered patio with lighting on one side. Imagine the long side of a house, with an awning, and lights on the side of the house. So 3 of the 4 sides of the patio will be open and have no lights.

I'll try playing with my SB on manual mode to turn down the power. I have a 50mm f/1.8 and that's what I'll mainly be using at the reception (later in the evening/night), unless I can get my hands on a 50mm f/1.4 for a good price.

I also just picked up a 100mm f/2.8 Series E lens yesterday. It's more of a fun lens to play with and learn from, but I'm hoping to get quick enough with it by April to shoot some good candid portraits with it. Otherwise I'll probably just stick with the 50mm.

Steve, what do you mean by "keep your camera settings cranked up"?
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Old January 8th, 2009, 11:43 AM   #6
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What I mean is keep things cranked up for maximum light collection. Use a higher ISO, 1600 if you need to, a larger aperture, slower shutter speed, etc. That way you're minimizing the flash power you need and it won't look any more flashy than necessary. Still, a really flashy looking photo with a completely dark background with the subject frozen and in focus is a much better than a non-flashy looking photo that's blurred (from too slow of a shutter speed) or out of focus (from too large of an aperture). It's a balancing act and a guessing game. You'll mostly use this as a learning experience and hopefully will get a few nice photos.

D80, right? Don't worry about ugly looking noise at 1600. Just use 1600 if you need to, trust me. Noise is one of the easiest things to clean up. Blurred or out of focus shots you're hosed. Be careful if you get an f/1.4 too. It's good for individual portraits, but there's zero depth of field. For group shots forget it. You'll need to be stopped down to at least f/4 or even f/5.6 or more for that and will need a lot of flash anyways. Pros use an SU-800 commander and off-camera flashes or portable strobes through softboxes and what not. Some even run around with an SB attached to a softbox handheld with an SC-28 or SC-29 cable to give you an arm's reach for getting the flash away from your shooting axis while still having portability.
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Old January 8th, 2009, 12:11 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by SteVTEC View Post
You'll mostly use this as a learning experience and hopefully will get a few nice photos.
You're dead on. That's how we're looking at this. Of course there's some pressure to churn out good pictures in order to open up new doors for the future.

I'll do some test shots tonight or something playing with the settings. I think composition will be a big player. That way even if a picture is a little flashy, as long as it's a GOOD picture, people will like it.

Thanks for the advice! I've got 4 months to trial and error the hell out of this.
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Old January 8th, 2009, 01:02 PM   #8
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Use stuffed animals as subjects to try out different lighting setups. Man I think I must have blinded poor Pooh Bear, but he was very cooperative.
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Old January 8th, 2009, 04:16 PM   #9
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I'd recommend renting a couple extra SB-600's and drive them with pocket wizards. Just carefully place them around the area and create your own lighting environment.

Practice makes perfect
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Old January 8th, 2009, 05:11 PM   #10
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bah...that would mean i have to get a pocket wizard and a few more SB-600s . we're going to go out to the vineyard with them before the wedding to do a few engagement pictures for them, so i'll scope out the area and figure out what exactly i'm working with.
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Old January 27th, 2009, 10:04 PM   #11
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i use gary fong's light sphere cloud version. It works great. With the top on, it softens up the flash nicely.
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Old January 27th, 2009, 11:36 PM   #12
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Do you point it up or at the subject?
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Old January 28th, 2009, 04:24 AM   #13
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I usually point up. You can play around with different flash angles to get the best result.
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