CE's Photography: Off Camera Flash Photography Beginner Setup (Cheap)

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Off Camera Flash Photography Beginner Setup (Cheap)

Poor Person's cheap Flash Photography Studio setup for beginners

I have been reading on Strobist web site for a while now. This is just a great site very informative when you want to move to off camera flash.
Like a lot of people that get in to photography, (ok maybe not that many, I'm sure there are more folks out there that just want to take good pictures) I have delusions of grandeur and would like to make millions and millions of dollars. (yeah, right like thats going to ever happen)
But that does not stop me from wanting to take better pictures. I was looking to possibly set up the off camera strobe system like the Strobist have suggested, but after doing some research on possible setups for this I came to the conclusion that right now it is just not fiscally possible. (damned expensive is what it is, got to remember, I've mentioned before I'm cheap.)
Even if I go with the Starving Student Kit from Midwest Photo Exchange that kit alone costs 199.00 $ plus shipping and still have to get the Ebay Triggers (shooting with the Canon 400D aka. XTi, no pc sync for external flash). So with shipping and every thing right there will cost more than aprox. 250.00 $ for just one light and umbrella.

Starting out green (Newbee) I need something very inexpensive and relatively flexible for what I want to do. At this moment in house photography, portraits, still life, and what ever I can do at home. I tried the Home Depot shop lights with day light compact florescent bulbs and had some success with those.


Setup was 2 of the Home Depot lights compact florescent one on each side of the camera direct light, 1 halogen work light behind the subject (my beautiful wife) pointed up at the backdrop (cheap bed sheet)

Camera settings
Tv: 1/13Sec.
Av: F4.0.
Metering Modes: Evaluative metering
Exposure Compensation: 0
ISO Speed: 200
Lens: EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 (wonderful kit lens)
Focal Length: 18.0 mm
Flash: no Flash

There are a couple of issues with this setup. First off my subjects (beloved family members) can not stand the constant blinding light right in their faces, this is required to eliminate shadows. The other problem are wires every where, the shop lights just don't have very long cords (I could lengthen them but that would be more work than I am willing to do now) and the chairs that I have to use to clamp the light's to (space constraints)
So, now what? Off to another one of my more frequented web sites craigslist photo/video for sale. I did peruse Ebay first as the old standby, but I hate waiting for my stuff to come in the mail (I'm one of those NOW people got to have it NOW) and shipping charges kill me. Eureka, someone local has a set of strobes. Just one phone call away, 105.00 $ in cash and a little drive. I am now the proud owner of ... (crap....) No it's not really that bad, but here is what I got


(lens flair from bad positioning of the Home Depot lights)
Fancier branded kit # FT-308. 2 strobes, 2 stands, 2 umbrellas (1 shoot through, and 1 bounce) and a cool carrying case for every thing..
It's not the biggest or the best setup but for my little home studio 10x10 ft. space with DIY back drops from Wal-Mart. (actually had the sheets in the closet already) but it will do for now.

The strobes are apparently 45w, and even though they are cheap, low powered, and non adjustable. They will fire off of my cameras internal flash with a little modification, party bouncer inspiration from DIYPhotography.net with a little modification instead of bouncing mine covers the whole flash all to gather for some reason if I don't there is some mis-timing with the strobes and they will not fire correctly. The canon Xti must be in manual mode to eliminate the pre-flash the camera wants to evaluate the lighting. There are 2 strobe's in the the kit one is the Master and it has a pc input for later use, and test flash button.


and the 2nd strobe is just a slave


Now that I have the studio set up its time to see what I can do.

Easter Sunday, probably the worst time to try and get the girls to sit and pose for me. But the best time for me (hey, they are all gussied up and ready to go)

our little model easter 08

Both lights one on each side of the camera 2ft either side, the shoot through umbrella set to about 4ft pointed directly at her, the bounce at 6ft pointing down at her (maybe a bit high though have shadows from her arm on the dress). The only post processing was crop, resize, and a little curve adjustment in DPP (Canon Digital Photo Professional software)
Exif info:
Exposure: 0.005 sec (1/200)
Aperture: f/7.1
Focal Length: 40 mm
ISO Speed: 100
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash fired

The littlest one just takes great pictures. I just wish she would not watch so many cheerleader contests on TV. (She gets all of those moves down just perfect, I'm in bigggg trouble with this one)

So concludes my first foray in to off camera flash photography hopefully you liked it and I can get better with all that I am doing. Comments are more than welcomed they are asked for if you have some pointers hit me with them.

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