Go Back   Cosplay.com > Cosplay Photography > Photography Chat

Reply
Thread Tools Rate Thread
Unread 01-25-2007, 01:07 AM   #1
shiroin
Banned
 
shiroin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,023
A personal story tutorial of flash photography

There has been quite some threads around discussing the use of external flash, diffusers, etc. I thought this might be a good chance for me to share my experience with flash and cons. Note that I could not complete this in one shot because I actually have two quizzes tomorrow D:

Anyways, enjoy my story tutorial of flash photography at cons.

WARNING: LARGE QUANTITIES IMAGES MAY TAKE LONG TIME TO LOAD

Last edited by shiroin : 01-28-2007 at 02:16 AM.
shiroin is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Unread 01-25-2007, 01:08 AM   #2
shiroin
Banned
 
shiroin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,023
Part 1: Realizing the Need for Flash

My first con was indoor. The lighting was really poor (about ISO 800 2.8 1/30th) and the lighting was mixed. (a mix of tungsten and flourscent)

To overcome I simply bounced SB-800 directly off the ceiling, however, it was ineffective because the ceiling was high and was gray. One other really annoying thing about the place was that it had green floors, meaning that all lights are reflected, causing the cosplayers to have a weird green shadow.


*Note the green shadows under the cosplayer's hand and face. This picture was actually one that had less green shadows.

It was a really bad shooting experience. And because it was my first time, I was under the impression that all cons are indoor. Immediately after the con, I thought of solutions to overcome future situations. I laid out the problems of the previous shoot:
-Lighting was poor in general, have to use high ISO to compensate: high noise.
-Poor lighting also meant high flash output (especially when bouncing), during the con I actually had to recharge my batteries or run to a nearby store and buy alkaline batteries: long recharge cycle, frequent battery replacement.
-Some hair styles prevent direct bounced light from lighting the face: shadows at the upper half of the face.
-Bouncing at an angle or direct flash were not an options, since they would generate harsh shadows.

Addressing those issues, I came up with a solution that requires three flashes (one borrowed from a friend)

Me at Fancy Frontier 8. July 30, 2006. National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan.
Nikon D2Xs + AF-S VR Nikkor 70-200mm F/2.8G + Nikon SB-800 X 2 + Nikon SB-600
Photo taken by a friend who will later teach me about the art of natural lighting.

Two directly up for extra bounce power and faster cycle time, one directly towards the cosplayer with a diffuser and reduced output for face lighting.

A week after my first con, I attended the largest con in Taiwan: Fancy Frontier. I entered the con early with a press pass (even though I wasnt working for any press) and took about twenty minutes setting up the flash array. It was a real work since I need to set it up such that all flashes will be triggered wirelessly and the center of mass is good for me to handle. I then tried the setup at nearby booths located in a university gym.

The combination was really... heavy and it was a true fatigue to carry around, but it did prove effective:

high cieling shot

low cieling shot

*you can see that low cieling is better because more lights are bounced.

Theoretical Light Diagrams to be added.

Last edited by shiroin : 04-10-2008 at 10:52 PM.
shiroin is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 01-25-2007, 01:10 AM   #3
shiroin
Banned
 
shiroin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,023
Part 2: From Three Flashes Outdoor to One Flash Outdoor

Having the combination of two bounce and one direct worked really well, but it was soon that I found out most of the cosplaying takes place outside the gym...orz

At first, I thought 'soo much work for nothing', but I soon found out that three flash actually gives me a good advantage.

It was summer noon in Taiwan, the sun is shining at its strongest strength. It was impossible to take pictures of cosplayers out in the field: the light was soo strong that cosplayers almost always face away from the sun, resulting in shadows that greatly constrasted the well-lit evnironment.

Using no flash, you either get underexposed cosplayer or overexposed background. (depending on how you meter)

It was all crazy except I figured that by using three flash, I can expose the background and the cosplayer equally by filling the shadows with light.

This is doable with one flash, but using three at different output means I can eliminate harsh shadows caused by single direct flash, and also I can have extra overall output and faster cycle time. The three flashes were set to be triggered wirelessly with the Nikon iTTL system. Their outputs each differs by 1/3 of a stop. (something like +1.0, +0.7, +0.3)

The results were, again, amazing.


http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/40731952/
bright sunlight shot. both cosplayer and background are well exposed.


http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/42173498/
late afternoon shot when sun was not as strong.

other pics taken during the same con with three flashes:
http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/42173810/
http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/39669611/

The results were indeed nice, but there was one problem:
all of the pictures look the same; there was no variety!!!

That really troubled me.
Two days, total of around seven straight hours of shooting each day (yes, I take almost no breaks) with a five kilogram camera, almost a thousand pictures (only about five hundred after sorting), and they all had similar lighting!

So on the second day, before people started leaving, I decided to try something new. I broke my formula, and used no flash. (It was also because I was taking a close-up shot, and did not want to distress the cosplayer)


http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/43718989/

Can you see the difference?
Better light gradient, better skintone, no weird flash reflections!

This got me thinking.... and I decided that during the next con, I would try to use as little flash as possible.

The question comes again. In certain situations, such as under the bright sunlight, how can you use minimal flash, to recover shadow details while making it as natural as possible?
The answer was off camera flash.
Here I have to thank two friends who helped me carry the off camera flash unit to make this possible.


Me at Comic World Taiwan 13. August 13, 2006. National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan.
Nikon D2Xs + Tamron XR Di 28-75mm F/2.8D + Nikon SB-800 Connected by SB-28 Sync Cord
Photo taken by a friend who captioned this photo in his blog as "I want a personal lighting assistant as MOE as this one! XD"

Using an off-camera flash is quite troublesome but fun at the same time.
If used correctly, it produces amazing effects. But if used incorrectly, weird shadows would pop out from unwanted places.

http://r-pai.com/temp/%5b20060813%5dCWT13Day2_0007.jpg
bad angle for off-camera flash. huge shadow generated in the background and the body of the cosplayer.


Now, this was a fun one. It was taken under the entrance of a building. The cosplayer herself was in complete shadow, direct flash would create shadow in the background, and bouncing off the cieling would lit up the chaotic background of a bunch of random cosplayers resting. So what we did was use a reflector to reflect sun light onto her, and use two flashes to shine her up directly from the bottom. So even if the direct flash generates any shadow, it would be above the cosplayer onto the cieling, which is out of the frame
With this combination, we have a well-lit cosplayer, and an almost completely dark background.

More to come. Next chapter will talk about me starting to use natural lighting, and achieve more pleasing pictures than the flashed ones.

A preview of natural lighting picture:

Last edited by shiroin : 01-28-2007 at 02:20 AM.
shiroin is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 01-25-2007, 01:12 AM   #4
shiroin
Banned
 
shiroin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,023
Part 3: From a Flash Maniac to a Flash Minimalist

Same day during the con, I also experimented alot with no flash. The results were quite suprising.


This shot could have been improved by lighting up the face to save some highlight details in the hair. Regardless, it was a pretty good shot.


This was a 20 shot burst at 5.3FPS, trying to catch the cosplayer's emotion and the bubbles.

After acquiring these shots, I was soo amazed that I simply stopped using flash that day. (The weather condition that day was great! It was sunny with lots of clouds = bright diffused lighting )

It was then near the end of the summer. I took a trip to Japan before I went to the States for university.

During this trip, I used almost no flash. Mainly because I thought it would be really rude and distracting to use them in street photography; I took this oppurtuntity to sharpen my skills with handling ambivient lighting.


Girl on the Streets of Harajuku

Tried out natural lighting at a Japanese con too.


http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/42966739/

http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/42966766/
Japanese cosplayer cosplaying Lacus Clyne from Gundam SEED Destiny

The shot was taken outside. The weather was cloudy, and it was under a large semi-transparent roof.

At this point I am more than convinced that, natural lighting, under certain conditions, is much better than artificial lighting. Namely, when ambivient light is diffused by clouds or when the sun is not particularly strong, natural lighting is the BEST.

Last edited by shiroin : 02-08-2007 at 12:43 AM.
shiroin is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 01-25-2007, 01:13 AM   #5
shiroin
Banned
 
shiroin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,023
Part 4: Encounter of New Situations: The Return of Flashes

Reserved for Part 4. Scheduled to be posted after Part 3.
shiroin is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 01-25-2007, 01:14 AM   #6
shiroin
Banned
 
shiroin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,023
Part 5: ???

Reserved for Part 5, which has not been planned. Will be posted if I learn something new.
shiroin is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 01-25-2007, 01:28 AM   #7
shiroin
Banned
 
shiroin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,023
More Examples

This section is dedicated to examples of flash photography for cosplays.
It will be updated over random intervals.
shiroin is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 01-25-2007, 02:17 AM   #8
Av4rice
shameless photo whore
 
Av4rice's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 485
Ooh very awesome so far. Can't wait to read/see the rest!
__________________
Jon
shotwhore
Av4rice is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 01-25-2007, 09:17 AM   #9
AnimeAngel
Back in Black
 
AnimeAngel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 590
Your work is impressive to say the least. As a photographer and a cosplayer, it's good to know all the angles of every side of it. Especially photographer. And in my experience, unless you have a mount flash or a diffuser, flash=evil. Especially for someone as pale as me.

Can't wait to see the rest!
AnimeAngel is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 01-27-2007, 06:08 AM   #10
Rosieal
Magister Mundi Sum
 
Rosieal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 324
Thank you for this! Of all the camera techniques I want to learn, this is the one I need the most! It would be also helpful to let us know what external flash products you would recommend. ^^
Rosieal is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 01-27-2007, 07:49 PM   #11
TomodachiFriend
Pick The Chair!
 
TomodachiFriend's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 313
Nice tutorial. I've never seen anyone go around with 3 flashes before.
TomodachiFriend is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 01-28-2007, 02:21 AM   #12
shiroin
Banned
 
shiroin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,023
I promised to have the second part posted on Saturaday, January 27, 2007. But I only had time to post it near the end of day, sorry for the delay.
shiroin is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 01-29-2007, 02:33 PM   #13
ZiggyB
Registered User
The Fuzz
 
ZiggyB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 5,027
Thank you very much shiroin! I love how your explanations go with your photos. It makes understanding all of the concepts very easy.

I myself have been trying to decide to get a flash or not. So far I've been shooting with only natural light and fixing problems in post. I am very interested in learning how to use the flash.

I also have to say that the photo of the cosplayer lit up but with a dark background is wonderful!
ZiggyB is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 01-30-2007, 12:14 AM   #14
TomodachiFriend
Pick The Chair!
 
TomodachiFriend's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 313
Reading your explanations, I've noticed something. Cosplayers are very patient in Taiwan. I'd never have the time to put two flashes on the ground and point a reflector. Here, the cosplayer would just walk away. Maybe I'm just lousy at this thing they call communcation.
TomodachiFriend is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 01-30-2007, 12:43 AM   #15
shiroin
Banned
 
shiroin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,023
Quote:
Originally Posted by TomodachiFriend View Post
Reading your explanations, I've noticed something. Cosplayers are very patient in Taiwan. I'd never have the time to put two flashes on the ground and point a reflector. Here, the cosplayer would just walk away. Maybe I'm just lousy at this thing they call communcation.
I have never been to a North American con so I can not compare that.

But in general, cosplayers in Asia are pretty static, its mostly the photographers running around hunting for cosplayers.

You might wonder why I get eye contact soo often, that is because I usually wait for the cosplayer to establish one ^^
shiroin is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:20 AM.


Copyright 2002-2013 Cosplay.com, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
All comments and posts in our forums are the opinion of the respective poster.