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Bring along lighting?
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Greyson Howard

Locale: Sierra Nevada
Bring along lighting? on 08/08/2008 21:37:07 MDT Print View

This is a question generally aimed at the ultralight sinners who carry big photo kits (SLR's, multiple lenses).

Does anybody bring along flashes for evening or night shots? Fill lighting? Anything?

And looking at studio photographer lighting set ups with metalic reflector umbrellas, the ultralighter in me thought... Golite Chrome Dome! I smell a multi use item in the works.

...Or not. Who would use a reflector while backpacking anyway?

Nathan Moody
(atomick) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Ultralight Camera Lighting on 08/08/2008 23:46:15 MDT Print View

I always bring my smallest Flash, my Canon 430EX, for just the things you mention. But I'm a digital imaging pro and photo nerd, so others' mileage may vary.

"Who would use a reflector while backpacking anyway?" Anyone who doesn't want the light to SUCK! :-) (kidding!) But seriously, after anyone reads or gets some direct-flash experience will find that direct flash is awful, horrific, and worth avoiding. I always bring a few 3x5 cards for catchlights in people's eyes and yes, if you carry a chrome umbrella, well, you're gonna be able to take some awesome shots...but you'll also have to hold your camera, and your 'brolly, or you're packing a tripod and you're as bad as I am and then we're not UL weenies anymore, are we? :-p

There are times when my beastly camera feels so heavy that I just can't bear to take a flash with me...and if I'm hiking with someone else, well then - POOF! Instant photo assistant. In such cases, I carry items to still modify natural light to supplement the classically painful dark-trees-blown-out-sky kinds of problems. Also perfect for getting rid of those face shadows from those wearing billed hats.

- Tin foil for sharper fill lighting, easier to aim for newbie "assistants." Bring lots.
- Heck, bright white glossy printer paper (a few sheets). Like tin foil, but much softer quality of fill light.
- Tape and tissue if someone must use direct pop-up flash from a Point & Shoot camera; loses a stop or so but softens the light when applied over the pop-up flash
- That chrome umbrella might just reflect enough light on its own to act as a fill light opposite the sun.

I find that scrims and other stuff to soften sunlight need to be too big to be useful, and impossible to set up right; go for lightening the shadows instead of dampening the light source.

And, finally, since binary data weighs nothing, I bracket like hell so that I can combine multiple exposures in Photoshop later, so that I can fill in deep shadows in post rather than carrying a flash.

I'd best stop writing lest this become painfully long. Hope this spurs some thinking.

Edited by atomick on 08/08/2008 23:48:15 MDT.

Greyson Howard

Locale: Sierra Nevada
Re: Ultralight Camera Lighting on 08/09/2008 00:06:10 MDT Print View

That's exactly what I was looking for, definitely not too long.

As I think you've guessed, I've been reading up on, and now that I have a tentative grasp on cameras and lenses, lighting is my next frontier.

The idea I've been kicking around is buying a Sigma 530 super flash - it would give me both a ETTL-talking on-camera flash, and an optical slave off camera (set up on a gorilla pod to be ultra light, of course).

But I really like your ideas of sunlight modifiers - aluminum foil or white paper reflectors is a great idea!

Thanks again for your feedback.

Nathan Moody
(atomick) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Ultralight Camera Lighting on 08/10/2008 09:07:30 MDT Print View

Final thought: This being BPL and all, we've not even begun to dive into multi-use lighting modifiers. That mylar space blanket? Large silver reflector. That tinfoil "pot cover" for your SUL500? Small silver reflector. That one-sided map? White reflector. Noseeum netting? -2 stop sun diffuser. (well, for small bits like flowers, anyway). If someone made an all-white version of the GG ThinLight we'd really be cookin' with fire. :-)

Heck, the more I think about it, many of us may be carrying our arsenal of lighting modifiers.

(Greyson, I've been studying lighting just like you for about 2-3 years now, between the studio and the field. Definitely a whole world of fun...and challenges! Good luck and feel free to PM me if you've got any questions or frustrations.)

Edited by atomick on 08/10/2008 09:11:08 MDT.