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 Post subject: Question to do with Multiple Flashes and Diffusers
PostPosted: March 15th, 2016, 4:30 pm 
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Joined: December 14th, 2015, 4:56 pm
Posts: 134
Hi everyone!
I'm a 16 year old passionate in herping and photography and a new member to the forum (California Chapter). I'm still getting used to the flashes and experimenting with different brightnesses, angles, etc, and I recently purchased an f-stoppers flash disc from recommendation for my larger external flash. I have a question for those shooting with macro flash units as well as a larger external, (r1 flash kit and sb700 in my case): Typically, how will you balance brightness and angles of the smaller off-camera flashes with the larger, hotshoe mounted master? I find that either the smaller flashes don't seem to add an additional angle of light, or all the light seems to come from that angle. Should I try making or buying diffusers for the sb-r200s? Maybe use the inbuilt flash to trigger the larger flash with the diffuser off camera and then have the smaller flashes in the position lighting the front of the animal?
Thanks for the help. I would love some constructive criticism with my photos too, some one which are on my flickr. I'm still getting the hang of exposure and my lighting!
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeremywrightphotography/
-Jeremy


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 Post subject: Re: Question to do with Multiple Flashes and Diffusers
PostPosted: March 16th, 2016, 7:21 am 
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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 1:38 pm
Posts: 971
With the flashes you mentioned you have a very versatile system to work with. In order to tweak the lighting you may want to set each flash on a different channel and in the commander mode modify each of the outputs in order to get a desired effect. If you have all 3 flashes set to the same output e.g. 1/1 (full power) its not going to get you the best results. However if you dial back the power on some or all you can get more directional lighting, don't be afraid to experiment. I'd say there isn't any one concrete rule, and it depends on the situation and type of shot I'm trying to get.

I like the sb-r200s but making an efficient diffuser system for them is a pain. I have gotten set ups to work temporarily but no long term solutions that i'm thrilled with.

So I have used a similar set up to what you have at times, you can see some results here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/


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 Post subject: Re: Question to do with Multiple Flashes and Diffusers
PostPosted: March 16th, 2016, 7:35 pm 
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Joined: December 14th, 2015, 4:56 pm
Posts: 134
Thank you Anton. Great photos, I love the effects and lighting you get. I found some little diffuser caps for the sb-r200s online, sort of like an omni-bounce style, so those should help. I think the most impractical part for me is having multiple off camera flashes especially when the subject is moving or changing positions. I'm going to experiment more with the 2 sb-r200s on the front ring of the lens, and then maybe handhold the sb700 of to either side in one hand. That should make everything more controllable and hopefully produce some good results.


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 Post subject: Re: Question to do with Multiple Flashes and Diffusers
PostPosted: March 17th, 2016, 12:41 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:20 am
Posts: 262
Location: Midwest
I have used the diffusers that come with the R1 kit, as well as the small plastic omni-bounces. They help a little, but aren't perfect. I wish there was any easier way to move the diffusers farther away from the surface of the flashes.

Do you have specific examples where you used tbe SB700 and the R1?

A couple things, most of your photos I do not see the characteristic "3 catch light" look this system should be giving. It doesn't seem like your SB200s are firing? It could be your SB700 is overpowering them, but I should still be able to see small catches from the SB200s.

Also, for some of the images, you are shooting your subject in full midday sun. The flashes likely won't get rid of that harsh shadow. If I come across an animal in this situation, I will either move it to an area with less harsh sun, or most of the time, I leave the animal alone and shade it in some way. Often, I just shoot it in the sun, and try to provide some light fill light.

If you are shooting larger animals (a big rattlesnake) from farther away (a nice safe distance) the SB200s will essentially be coming from the same angle as the SB700 and won't provide any added benefit. The farther away from the animal you are, the farther they must be moved off to the side. The SB200s aren't great at this. They work well for small creatures, in a macro setting.

My SB900 is set up in commander mode, on my hotshoe, and I control the output of my SB200s from it. They are on a different channel controlled by my SB900. If needed, I sometimes will separate my SB200s into different channels as well. I tend to keep my SB200s output higher than my commander (so maybe commander -1 or 0, and SB200s 0 or +.7/+1). These numbers are just examples, and obviously change in most situations.

In most of my examples, I used 2 SB200s and my SB900 with a diffuser as well. In these photos you can see the three catchlights in the eye. I tend to leave them, although they annoy others. I tend to try to let there still be some shadows, just hopefully not very harsh.

ImageDwarf Salamander by Jason Folt, on Flickr

ImageWestern Chrous Frog by Jason Folt, on Flickr

ImageStrawberry Poison Dart Frog Oophaga pumilio by Jason Folt, on Flickr

No diffusers
ImageSpiny Cochran Frog Teratohyla spinosa by Jason Folt, on Flickr

Snakes are definitely a bit more difficult, except for when very small, or you just are taking a portrait.
Imageimantoides_25jun14_1a by Jason Folt, on Flickr

Good luck!

Jason


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 Post subject: Re: Question to do with Multiple Flashes and Diffusers
PostPosted: March 17th, 2016, 5:04 pm 
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Joined: December 14th, 2015, 4:56 pm
Posts: 134
Hey Jason. Thank you so much for your long and detailled response! I'll give the diffusers that came with the flashes a try; I kinda forgot about those to be honest. I didn't really make this clear in my initial post sorry, but most of the shots on my flickr are just with the diffused sb700 either on or off camera. I have prefered those shots over the 3 light shots as I have been seeing 3 shadows. I think some more experimental time and shooting will help me get adjusted to the lights. I wonder if you could use some kind of dual-flash bracket with the r200s to make things a little easier and have good results. I know Jack Goldfarb has a picture of someone shooting with something like that using sb-r200s.
Thanks for the help and I'll report back soon!
Jeremy


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 Post subject: Re: Question to do with Multiple Flashes and Diffusers
PostPosted: March 21st, 2016, 6:16 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:20 am
Posts: 262
Location: Midwest
You can! I have heard people mount them on Fotopro DMM-903, but I can't find the item in stock anywhere. The older crappier, 901 is available.

https://twitter.com/entodkb/status/438285283948118016

I would like to create a nikon version of this - http://orionmystery.blogspot.com/2012/0 ... o-rig.html

The arms should help with this a bit, but they aren't available...

Jason


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 Post subject: Re: Question to do with Multiple Flashes and Diffusers
PostPosted: March 22nd, 2016, 8:58 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:14 pm
Posts: 3298
Location: San Antonio, TX
I made some quick and dirty diffusers for my macro flash setup. When I first tried it I went with some hard plastic from some night lights like these. I velcroed them on the flash heads. They were very field hardy in that they were waterproof and unbreakable,

Image
Image


The did diffuse the light nicely, but the problem was that they got knocked off too easily in the field.


So after looking at Kurt's amazing blog (- a source of GREAT ideas!!), I decided to make some more field-friendly diffusers out of the styrofoam sheeting that comes packaged around electronics. I just velcro it on the flashes and it stays on easily because it doesn't weigh anything.

Image
Image


I quickly realized that this stuff was a great tool for this because I could make a variety of different shape/size diffusers out of one sheet and keep them in my camera bag (or remake them while on a trip somewhere). The give nice lighting, are flexible, don't break and easily replaced if you do manage to damage or lose one.

They also hold their shape somewhat so you can curve/bend them to suit your needs at a particular moment. I have them somewhat flattened here, but you can open them up a bit so they are big round tube shaped diffusers as well.

So far I've been very pleased with their usefulness.

I think the possibilities for this stuff as "field-friendly" diffuser material is only limited by your creativity.


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 Post subject: Re: Question to do with Multiple Flashes and Diffusers
PostPosted: March 27th, 2016, 12:56 pm 
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Joined: December 14th, 2015, 4:56 pm
Posts: 134
Thanks for the tips Jason and Chris!


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 Post subject: Re: Question to do with Multiple Flashes and Diffusers
PostPosted: May 1st, 2016, 12:40 pm 
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Joined: December 14th, 2015, 4:56 pm
Posts: 134
Finally seeming to get a hang of this system a little more...

ImageDSC_3415 by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr
ImageDSC_2967 by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr
ImageDSC_3205 (2) by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr
ImageDSC_3223 by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr
ImagePossible Intergrade Colorado Desert and Mojave Shovel-nosed Snake (Chionactis occipitalis) Riverside County, March 2016 by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr
ImageArboreal Salamander (Aneides Lugubris) San Gabriels, February 2016 by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr


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 Post subject: Re: Question to do with Multiple Flashes and Diffusers
PostPosted: May 20th, 2016, 4:52 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:14 pm
Posts: 3298
Location: San Antonio, TX
Jeremy,

These are looking really nice. Nice even shadowless lighting without it being distracting.
What setup did you finally end up with?

The first three are a little overexposed on my monitor. You might try bringing those down a 1/4 stop or so in photoshop?
I have to do this with shots from my diffused macro flashes as well. Something about the diffusion makes the scene a little too bright generally.

Chris


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 Post subject: Re: Question to do with Multiple Flashes and Diffusers
PostPosted: May 22nd, 2016, 2:19 pm 
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Joined: December 14th, 2015, 4:56 pm
Posts: 134
Hi Chris,
Much appreciated, thank you. I ended up using small omni bounces on the sb-r200s, and what is basically an exact copy of the f-stoppers flash disc that was reviewed on the site somewhat recently on to my main sb700 flashes. This a chinese version that is about 1/2 the price and works perfectly well for me. I put the diffused sb700 on the hot shoe and do a mixture of the smaller sb-r200s either on the attachment ring at the end of the lens or off camera on the little stands that they come with depending on the angles, terrain, etc. The frog shot for example wasn't constrained by rocks or branches around it, so I shot the sbr-200s at the end of the lens, but the helleri was sandwiched between leaves, rocks, and a few branches so I put them off camera then to try to illuminate areas that would be dark from only being front or top lit.
Only drawback so far is that the sb-r200s are not super powerful. They definitely have enough power to add an angle of light when being shot with a brighter commander like a sb700 if your subject is a frog, insect, or small snake. I shot a large lyre snake recently that wouldn't curl up, so I ended up putting on a wider angle lens, but the combination of the wider angle, 3 and a half foot snake, etc gave fairly harsh shadows in the background.
ImageBaja California Lyre Snake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr
ImageBaja California Lyre Snake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr
I can see in this case how a second big flash like an sb700 shot off camera would be a much better choice then the sb-r200s. For what I do 95% of the time though, they work really well! :D
Now that I look at it, they do look a little overexposed, thank you. They looked fine when I edited and uploaded them on my laptop, but on the desktop they do look a little too bright and maybe a little too much contrast. Thanks for your help.

Jeremy


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