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Things ShowcaseGlass Bluebird Ornament lit with Single Small Flash

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Charles Haacker
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Glass Bluebird Ornament lit with Single Small Flash

Post by Charles Haacker »

When I was working I used flash all the time. When I shot a wedding there was always a flash on a high bracket over the lens axis, while long-suffering Daphne carried a second, radio-triggered unit atop a modified monopod. She was a living lightstand, usually staying about 45° to me and skilfully feathering her light more into the background. It would spill onto the main subjects for a kicker, and kept my shutter slow indoors so as to pick up ambient light. We were striving for the most natural, "unflashed" look we could get. With daylight balanced color films ISOd @ 400 there was little else we could do. We had to be able to work indoors and out, and very fast.

When I transitioned to digital I dropped flash altogether. I loved how digital behaved even in mixed light, how I could rely on auto white balance (especially in raw), let my ISO "float" while moving from indoors to out and back.

But now we are all casting about for something to do that we can do safe and hunkered indoors. I have a little Godox shoe-mount that is TTL (no headachy kitchen arithmetic needed) and dedicated to my Sony A6XXX cameras, but I still seldom used it since it would only fire in the hotshoe and the only way to get anything like character out of it was to bounce it.
My oldie-but-still-goody Sony A6000 focused on the bird with the Godox dedicated trigger on the hotshoe
My oldie-but-still-goody Sony A6000 focused on the bird with the Godox dedicated trigger on the hotshoe
So I splurged 50 bucks on this ⇑ little thing to go with the Godox flash. It's a dedicated radio trigger with some 30 channels that can command a bunch of lights (although I right now have only one). It lets me do far more things with that single flash because I can get it off the camera. WAY off. Some 50 meters off if I want.
The bird as photographed in raw, finished in Lightroom Classic
The bird as photographed in raw, finished in Lightroom Classic
This is a solid glass bluebird, maybe 3-inches long beak to tail, shot with my single Godox TTL in what we used to call "dark line" configuration, the light coming from behind the subject and the various refractions causing the edges to be darkly defined. The blue inclusion was somehow injected into the piece while molten. It's a lovely thing, and a challenge to photograph.
The setup exactly as it was, with the approximate path of the single light painted in.
The setup exactly as it was, with the approximate path of the single light painted in.
I did this to show how it was done. My phone cannot trigger the unit so I tried to clumsily paint in where the light was directed. It does take some skill to be able to feather the light to get the even illumination you want, and these little shoe mounts have no modeling lights, but experience teaches how to aim and feather to get it close. Then a couple of test shots and adjustments and there it is, easy-peasy.

Something to do. (?)
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There is no light like back light. No, really. :)

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Psjunkie
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Post by Psjunkie »

Lovely image..thanks for showing and explaining Chuck. I know nothing about flash but always tell my self one of these days.......

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Post by minniev »

Psjunkie wrote:
Tue Apr 21, 2020 5:32 pm
Lovely image..thanks for showing and explaining Chuck. I know nothing about flash but always tell my self one of these days.......
I am always amazed at what you and Duck can do with flash. That intense technical know-how mixed with the artistic side is something to envy. I am hopeless with flash.

Thank you for a beautiful picture (I'm reduced to taking pictures of old toys and rotten sweet potatos), and especially for the explanation.
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

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Post by PietFrancke »

love it Chuck - results are awesome - colors and shape are clean and alive.

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Charles Haacker
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Post by Charles Haacker »

Psjunkie wrote:
Tue Apr 21, 2020 5:32 pm
Lovely image..thanks for showing and explaining Chuck. I know nothing about flash but always tell my self one of these days.......
Thank YOU for taking a look and time to comment. I was no stranger to flash and accustomed to the manual jobs, guide numbers, kitchen arithmetic headaches... I have been shooting pretty much all existing light for years and loving it, but I've had this little TTL (Through The Lens) flash, and given the current enforced isolation decided to make more use of it. The TTL aspect makes it MUCH simpler to use, a huge boon. :thumbup:
Friends call me Chuck. :photo:
This link takes you to my Flickr albums. Please click on any album to scroll through it.
(I prefer to present pictures in albums because I can put them in specific order.)
There is no light like back light. No, really. :)

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Charles Haacker
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Post by Charles Haacker »


I am always amazed at what you and Duck can do with flash. That intense technical know-how mixed with the artistic side is something to envy. I am hopeless with flash.

Thank you for a beautiful picture (I'm reduced to taking pictures of old toys and rotten sweet potatos), and especially for the explanation.
Thank you for looking and commenting! We are all rooting around for stuff around the house to shoot so we don't come into range of Covid. I love your stuff! You have so much imagination and creativity that I lack.

Those of us that used flash for years got very comfortable with it. Studio flashes like Duck uses have modeling lights that show exactly what the light will look like when the flashtubes fire. The challenge with little shoe-mount speedlights is trying to visualize where the light is going to go. When I was in school our instructors gave us a "simple" exercise using a single constant lamp in a reflector: it was turned off and they would call one of us up and name a particular kind of lighting (Paramount, Rembrandt &c) ; our challenge was to place the light where it needed to be without turning it on. When we got it right it was very satisfying. It was a great exercise in previsualization. Flashes with no modeling lamps are like that: you learn to know where the beam is going to go.
Friends call me Chuck. :photo:
This link takes you to my Flickr albums. Please click on any album to scroll through it.
(I prefer to present pictures in albums because I can put them in specific order.)
There is no light like back light. No, really. :)

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Charles Haacker
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Post by Charles Haacker »

PietFrancke wrote:
Wed Apr 22, 2020 4:03 pm
love it Chuck - results are awesome - colors and shape are clean and alive.
Thank you, Piet! Usually there is scant difference between constant and flash light, but these small flashtubes output a very crisp, defining light. I'm enjoying playing with it as if it were something new. With the radio trigger, it is. No more must the unit be stuck on top of the camera. :clap:
Friends call me Chuck. :photo:
This link takes you to my Flickr albums. Please click on any album to scroll through it.
(I prefer to present pictures in albums because I can put them in specific order.)
There is no light like back light. No, really. :)

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Post by nowakowski »

Looks great i like it

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