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Flash Photography Advice

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by SoSueMe, Apr 14, 2007.

  1. SoSueMe

    SoSueMe Active Member

    I'm not going to lie, I got into this business as a writer first and photographer second, but with cutbacks and convergence I've taken on shooting more photos.

    Outdoors, I'm fine. Well-lit gyms and arenas are not problems. I'm smart enough to figure out white balance, shutter speed and F-Stop in those situations. And, with digital cameras it's easier now than ever.

    However, I SUCK when I need to use a flash in poorly-lit gyms. I'm bordering on having no clue at all.

    My equipment: A D1H Nikon and an OLD Vivitar flash.

    My questions are: What F-stop to use? What shutter speed to use?

    Any advice is appreciated.

    If you're a friendly photog willing to help, tutor or share advice, please feel free to PM me!
  2. You are shooting in RAW, right?
  3. chazp

    chazp Active Member

    Use TTL (Through the lens) flash setting, it's the best setting to use for poor lighting. Have the F-stop on the lowest setting to open the lens as much as possible. You may still have to lighten/darken the photos on the curve in photoshop.
  4. And if you keep the shutter speed really, really slow, you can let in even more light.
  5. Of course the photos will suck then....
  6. Which is what will happen if the F-stop is on the lowest setting.
  7. You can fix dark. You can't fix blur.
  8. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    Shutter speed has to be set at a specific setting (depends on the camera - I think most are 1/60 or 1/120, and it's usually marked on the camera) to synch with the flash, so your lattitude on shutter speed is limited.

    Use a flash diffuser -- I usually just ripped the cover off a reporter's notebook and rubber-banded it to the flash -- to reduce overflash, glare and redeye.

    Using diffused flash reduces the effective range of the flash, down to 20-30 feet tops, which can be a problem in football. In basketball, it means you'll have to take most of your shots from the baseline under the basket.

    If you have some real problem gyms, ask the coach or AD if you can come over during a practice, ask him to turn on the lights comparable to the way it is during games, and shoot off a bunch of shots at different F-stop settings, see what works best, and go with that.

    Above all, congratulations on the realization that flash must be used inside in dark gyms. I fight all winter with some of our photogs, who keep turning in blurry, dark, out-of-focus shots, because they don't want to use flash. (This probably has to do with the effective-range problem discussed above -- these guys like to poke their heads in the gym door, shoot a half-dozen shots using a long zoom lens, pack up their junk and take off.)

    Any coaches or parents give you crap about using flash, just tell them, "if we don't use flash, you don't get in the paper."
  9. SoSueMe

    SoSueMe Active Member

    We live by this here. No flash? No photos. Sorry.
  10. pressboxer

    pressboxer Active Member

    I told more than one small-school administrator we'd quit using a flash just as soon as they put sufficient lighting in their gyms. One place eventually passed a bond issue that included a new gym. Not that I had anything to do with it, but the place had better lighting than any of the other dozen or so barns we would occasionally visit.
  11. Canuck Pappy

    Canuck Pappy Member

    Just an idea...

    I bought a really fast lens. It's a 85mm f1.8. for $250 CDN on ebay. I can use natural light in just about every arena and gym around here.
    You might also want to look into buying a new flash. The new ones with the TTL setting work well and sometimes you can use your Vivitar and the new lens as a slave with good results with a lot of experimenting.
  12. zman82

    zman82 Member

    how long have you used the vivitar? i tried this for about a year with the same camera and simliar flash and eventually burned out my flash. by the nikon flash ($200-$300) used and you'll see a world of difference in your pics.
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