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Old 07-18-2012, 11:37 PM   #1
MolonLabe
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Properly lighting for table side character dinners. Diffuser or soft box?

Ok, nothing to bounce the light off at CRT...

So for my Canon T4i and a speedlight 430 exII what should I use?

One of those white plastic stick on diffusers like this:
http://www.adorama.com/FAFD40.html

or

A soft box like this:
http://www.adorama.com/FAMSBD.html
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Old 07-19-2012, 02:34 PM   #2
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Of the two, I'd imagine the softbox would be the better choice. Neither is going to work miracles, though. Big light is soft light, all things being equal. The softbox will give bigger light, but I'm not sure if it is big enough for you. Of course, you could get a larger softbox -- or make one yourself -- but there is portability to consider as well.

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Old 07-19-2012, 10:46 PM   #3
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First, a soft box is a diffuser. All a diffuser does is scatter light in different directions. It doesn't really make the light softer unless the diffuser is large relative to your subject. Neither of these things really qualifies as large.

Ideally, there would be a white wall in the place and you could bounce the flash off that to have a VERY large source for some soft lighting. Most conditions are never ideal, though.

It's going to be more important to get the flash off your camera than it is to put one of those crap-gadgets in front of your flash.
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Old 07-19-2012, 11:05 PM   #4
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Read Understanding Flash Photography. The Hotshoe Diaries is another great book that's more advanced.

A diffuser or soft box will certainly soften the shadows a little by taking the point light source of the flash and spreading it out, but that's only part of the story.
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Old 07-20-2012, 12:27 AM   #5
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Thanks everyone.

I'm trying to figure out how to handle CRT at this point, lol.
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Old 07-20-2012, 12:34 AM   #6
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CRT during the day or at night? During the day if you end up near the windows there's really good light. It's very workable farther in as well. Of course at night it's quite unfavorable, as most restaurants are.


ISO 3200, 28mm f/6.3 1/180

I had room to play there and if I'd been thinking I'd probably have shifted the settings to use a lower ISO. But it was way too early in the morning to think. LOL
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Old 07-20-2012, 12:56 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by photo_chick View Post
CRT during the day or at night? During the day if you end up near the windows there's really good light. It's very workable farther in as well. Of course at night it's quite unfavorable, as most restaurants are.


ISO 3200, 28mm f/6.3 1/180

I had room to play there and if I'd been thinking I'd probably have shifted the settings to use a lower ISO. But it was way too early in the morning to think. LOL
When we went in May 2011 we had a window table but it was at dusk. The G11 took some good pictures but when the light faded, some of them weren't as nice as I would have liked.

That was using the built in flash.

I've got the T4i with the 18-50 f3/5 IS kit lens and a canon speedlight 430ex ordered. I'm going to try and figure all this out before our trip.

I'm also going to go back thru understanding exposure once it comes in now that I'll have something to really work with.
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Old 07-20-2012, 07:59 AM   #8
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Uderstanding Flash Photography is by the same author as Understanding Exposure. I think it's a great companion book to have.

If you are dining during the day and get seated down near the windows at CRT, don't be afraid to step out away from your table and ask the character to turn a bit so the light hits from the side. My favorite shots at CRT have been when I get them situated so the light comes from the side and you can get some of the windows behind them.

If you want great character shots at a character meal, the most important thing you can do is to take charge of the situation a bit and ask them to move. Not just so you get better light. But so YOU can stand up, and so you can avoid half-eaten plates of food and open mouths in your shot. Even so, that's hard to avoid.

I have seen lots of great shots in the restaurants done with a fast lens and no flash. To be honest, I'm just too afraid of missing the shot completely. So I dial down my flash exposure compensation and go from there. Maybe I could do better without the flash (OK, definitely), but I just don't want a learning curve with the risk of making some mistakes in one of these limited opportunities.

I actually found the lighting in most character meals to be pretty poor. The other really important thing to do is to shoot in RAW for greater latitude to fix white balance and exposure at home where you as much time as you need.
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Old 07-20-2012, 08:26 AM   #9
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When we've done the character meals I always use a Gary Fong inverted dome diffuser on my flashes. Its fairly small, the universal one folds down kinda flat for fairly easy portability. AND you can use it with the flash in any orientation. You always get the same diffused light, unless you use it straight on, then its a little on the stronger side. I almost always use it in the bounced orientation. I've been using Gary Fong diffusers for about 5 years and love them.
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Old 07-20-2012, 10:14 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mom2rtk View Post
If you want great character shots at a character meal, the most important thing you can do is to take charge of the situation a bit and ask them to move. Not just so you get better light. But so YOU can stand up, and so you can avoid half-eaten plates of food and open mouths in your shot. Even so, that's hard to avoid.
I think taking charge and direting the shot is very important here, just as it is in a lot of phoogragphy. It can make the difference between a bad snapshot and a really nice image.

Quote:

I actually found the lighting in most character meals to be pretty poor. The other really important thing to do is to shoot in RAW for greater latitude to fix white balance and exposure at home where you as much time as you need.
I agree with the bad lighting. CRT during the day is one of the better places lighitng wise.
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Old 07-20-2012, 11:19 AM   #11
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So I'm one of those who's guilty of just slapping on a fast lens and not bothering to direct the characters or bounce any flash. Character shots just haven't been a big priority.

That said, after our last character meal at Tusker House, I may be reformed. The shots could've been so much better with just a little effort.

So... question for those of you who bother with flash....

Have you ever tried bringing along a piece of white paper and just bouncing the flash off that?
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Old 07-20-2012, 11:29 AM   #12
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Quote:
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So I'm one of those who's guilty of just slapping on a fast lens and not bothering to direct the characters or bounce any flash. Character shots just haven't been a big priority.

That said, after our last character meal at Tusker House, I may be reformed. The shots could've been so much better with just a little effort.

So... question for those of you who bother with flash....

Have you ever tried bringing along a piece of white paper and just bouncing the flash off that?
I think it just really depends on what your priorities are. I love character photos, so am willing to mess with things a little more.

And if I had your awesome full frame camera, I'd be more tempted to go with just a fast lens since I could "get away" with a higher ISO.

And I haven't tried the white card or paper, but would love to hear others thoughts and see some examples. That might be a great way to go.
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Old 07-20-2012, 11:51 AM   #13
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\
I agree with the bad lighting. CRT during the day is one of the better places lighitng wise.
Didn't you once tell me there was no such thing as bad lighting, only photographers who don't know how to use the light?
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Old 07-20-2012, 11:53 AM   #14
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Tusker House was what got me to pay a little more attention to character meals. My shots were dark, noisy and yucky. But with most of our character meals being breakfasts I'm also fighting brain fog that early and thinking for me in the mornings is a challenge. LOL
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Old 07-20-2012, 11:56 AM   #15
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Didn't you once tell me there was no such thing as bad lighting, only photographers who don't know how to use the light?
LOL.. true. I was referring to sun in that conversation but I will rephrase that. There is insufficient light for an exposure without the use of additional light in many restaurants. It's too dark, even with a fast prime and the ISO pumped up.
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