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Old 08-29-2003, 02:32 AM
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Default Why I use flash for sunsets

Edwin posed an interesting question related to my latest picture, why do I use flash for shooting sunsets.

For the first 5 minutes of the sunset, I set my digital camera to Auto Flash mode, which inevitably fires the flash whether there is anything to be brightened in the foreground or not. This mode results in darker colors, which I then lighten back in Photoshop. The reason to use Auto mode is that the exposure time is fast, I can hold the camera in my hands - shoot above people's heads, or 5 inches from the ground, or standing in the ocean, etc... I can shoot freer and more comfortably as I run around locations. I actually hate that cheesy flash, it gives close things a greenish tint and a lot of grain, so I often compose the image by avoiding nearby objects.

After the first five minutes I have to turn Auto mode off, because it's starting to make the sunset colors too dark and adding too much grain to be correctable. Then I switch to Supressed Flash mode and start using the clunky tripod. Et voila, no more grain.

It has nothing to do with whether flash is necessary or not, and everything to do with knowing your camera and playing it like an instrument. If you just shoot "by the book", you would never know e.g. that to take the best picture of of a water fountain with a mosaic bottom is the Reduce Red Eye flash mode, even though there is not a single eye in the picture.
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Old 08-29-2003, 02:41 AM
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Default Re: Why I use flash for sunsets

That's an interesting think you did with the flash mode on to make the exposure time faster. I think I will try this some day. What kind of camera do you have, it doesn't tell. I presume it's a model that has no manual setting so it's a wise trick and the result is great.
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Old 08-29-2003, 01:18 PM
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mrdelurk mrdelurk is offline
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Default Re: Why I use flash for sunsets

I took this particular shot with the most basic Fuji digital camera: the FinePix 101.
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Old 08-29-2003, 07:29 PM
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Default Re: Why I use flash for sunsets

What does Reduce Red Eye Flash mode actually do? Does it reduce the output of the flash?
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Old 08-30-2003, 04:43 PM
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Default Re: Why I use flash for sunsets

In the red eye mode the camera shoots two flashes, first a small one which makes the subjects retina (or the pupil?) contract, avoiding the red eye.

Or so the theory says. In fact, shooting a small first flash helps in various cases. The only way to truly find out is to keep shooting any new chanllenging subject (a multi-ton crystal chandelier? A pool with cut mirror bottom? etc.) with every possible flash configuration, and evaluate later what gave the best result.

As far as the red eye reduction idea goes - shooting any face with flash is murder with this FinePix 101. Using the tripod and a long, flash-free exposure will beat any flash facial shot with this cuckoo. The difference is just stunning.
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Old 08-31-2003, 05:20 AM
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Default Re: Why I use flash for sunsets

Hi all,

The first flash make the iris contract to reduce the pupil. Otherwise, without the first flash, the pupil will stay wide open (assuming that the subject is in the dark) and the light from the flash will hit the retina at the bottom the eye and create a red reflection.

Quoting mrdelurk: In fact, shooting a small first flash helps in various cases.

Where I'm confused is how this red eyes reducing system can affect other cases than what it was design for. If I'm right, the first flash happen before the shutter open. So how can it affect the picture? My guess is that the software embedded in the digital camera apply some changes to the signal when capturing a picture with the red eyes reducing mode is on.

This is just a guess. :-D

Cheers,

Romain.
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Old 08-31-2003, 11:05 AM
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Default Re: Why I use flash for sunsets

If you shoot an object that is very reflective and complex (I was talking about mega-chandelier and mosaic pool bottom, e.g.), the first flash will bounce around it and get to the remote corners just as the main flash hits the thing on the surface.
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Old 08-31-2003, 11:40 AM
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Default Re: Why I use flash for sunsets

There is something amis with this logic.
Green is quite right in stating that the pre-flash proir to exposure occurs before the shutter opens. The same system is used also in film cameras, since the pre-flash goes off prior to exposure it can have no effect on exposure. Therefore any software in the camera would not take this into account. I would also question your statement about shiny surfaces for the same reason, shiny surfaces can throw up specular highlights which can be reduced by a polarising filter, not neccessarilly by reduceing the flash output which red eye mode wouldn't do.

regards Bill
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