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Flash test

I’ve enjoyed some fantastic sets this weekend – you guys have been busy and creative.

This post is about how (not) to get it right with a flash and a wide-angle lens. Actually, I was testing a gelatine to correct for tungsten lighting. The challenge was make sure that what an interior decorator friend calls the ‘delicate saffron’ colour of my walls not look like putty without blowing out the highlights in the light on the left and retain the colours off the book spines, carpet and lilies. Basically, make the viewer believe I didn’t use a flash.
I know, I should definitely get out more.

I use my bookcase for testing corner and centre sharpness of any new lens I buy, which I strongly recommend you do too, unless you’re happy with the kit lens your camera manufacturer foisted on you. There are several advantages: you can show the vendor undeniable proof you were sold a dud. Reputable camera stores have an instant return/trade policy. Also, showing a picture of books might make the vendor think you can read and are therefore less likely to conned the next time (I can hope, can’t I?).

I’m reasonably pleased with the results and would appreciate your technical comments (given the constraints of Photoblog’s colour mapping). The end result was not colour-corrected. I merely sharpened the image and fixed the edge distortion created by my lens. In continuing my act of contrition, I’ve posted some of the duds here [photoblog.com], appropriately enough under 1 April.

So, techie stuff: I used a Canon 5D mark II, which doesn’t have fill-flash. I bounced the light off my rather high ceilings, compensated at -2 FEV, used gelatine to correct for tungsten, second-curtain synch (the flash fires just before the shutter closes, not when it opens). Exposure was ½ second, f/6.3 @ 100 ISO.

OK, Photoblog has nuked my reds again.

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    There are 11 comments, add yours!

    • # Borgo | Allegri

      that makes me feel like curling up in that room and smelling old leathers. great job at capturing a feel :)

      2010.02.02 Edited Reply Cancel

    • # Erin Overton

      I new to this, but the shot looks amazing. I will definately try some of your technique here in my own shots.

      2009.03.27 Edited Reply Cancel

    • # Dragana Jurisic

      you wanna flash tip? we use the same camera... bounce it over your shoulder. just turn the head facing away from the subject and bounce it off the wall behind you

      2009.03.24 Edited Reply Cancel

    • # Robinray

      Lovely to have such wit about the place! Your comment on Pun HQ Montcuq (Robertthebobblog) made me laugh out so loud my wife came to see if I was alright. Bless you for that. PS Nice library!

      2009.03.24 Edited Reply Cancel

    • # Mark

      You certainly managed to compensate for the light temperature of the flash but to a jaundiced eye, the lighting it's self is a bit unnatural (just being a Messerschmitt ;) ) I must portrait my bookshelf so you can appreciate the connection between "orderliness" in interior decorating and post processing.

      2009.03.23 Edited Reply Cancel

    • # Lynda


      So glad that you're back. On the run??but wanted to stop by. As for your nuked reds?? my mind went to these lines:

      ??He did not wear his scarlet coat, For blood and wine are red, And blood and wine were on his hands When they found him with the dead, The poor dead woman whom he loved, And murdered in her bed?

      Oscar Wilde

      It was the connection with red!

      2009.03.23 Edited Reply Cancel

    • # Stefan Fletcher

      Glossary for techie stuff:
      [b]Fill flash [/b]is the built-in flash found on amateur and some pro-sumer slr's. In the same way that expensive cars don't have rear windscreen wipers, high-end cameras don't feature a built-in flash.
      [b]Flash exposure value[/b] (FEV): you can tell your camera or flash unit to be brighter or dimmer (not strictly true, but close enough) and is measured in stops, like aperture settings. Compensating for EV or Flash EV is my very trial-and-error way of getting the lighting right.
      [b]Gelatine[/b] or gel: flash light is harsh and blue-white, which causes a colour cast. You can buy plastic strips in various coulours to compensate and match ambient lighting. Usually, red-orange works for tungsten lights, green for fluorescent lighting. Other colours can be used for creative effect.
      [b]Bouncing the flash[/b]: impossible with the integrated flash unit on a camera, but flash guns can be angled so the subject doesn't get harsh highlights/shadows or the dreaded red-eye
      [b]First/Second curtain synch[/b]: in First CS, the flash fires when the shutter opens. In Second CS, the flash fires just before the shutter closes. The latter is useful to show movement or in long exposures.

      2009.03.23 Edited Reply Cancel

    • # Brian

      Stefan, I feel like a fish out of water when I read your posts:) I am one of those poor souls using the kit lenses the manufacturer foisted on me but until I know better....
      I have so much to learn. sigh.

      2009.03.23 Edited Reply Cancel

    • # Jeff Hubbard

      I'm really not that technical. I've had my g9 about 5 months now and i still haven't really looked at the manual, or even the on board menu. When i use the flash it nukes everything, so i don't, which is why i get fuzzy photos in low light shots. I'm half blind in artificial light but do i detect a slight orange cast to your photo? Otherwise it looks fine. In your last paragraph I understood the words Canon eos5. From thereon in, babelfish seemed unable to cope with your Greek. :)

      2009.03.22 Edited Reply Cancel