580exII and the Swim team portrait poolside

Started Mar 23, 2012 | Discussions thread
Sailor Blue
Sailor Blue Forum Pro • Posts: 13,752
Re: 580exII and the Swim team portrait poolside

vdotmatrix wrote:

Right off the bat I am new to speedlight location photography and really hate flash photograohy sometimes.

I am shooting the swim team across a 30ft pool.

That's a long distance for a single flash, especially since you will have to use a fairly wide angle lens to include all the members of a large group.

The test shots were ok.

Used and umbrella and the 580exII at about 8-10ft at the end of the pool from the side. threw out a lot of light,

That is good news. The problem is that at 30' you will have about 1/4 of the light power as at 8'. The umbrella will also become small with comparison to the group so the light will be hard, not soft. The umbrella is basically a light waster at this distance and you might as well be using straight flash.

ditched the umbrella for a Gary Fong lightsphere and bounced it off the ceiling (maybe 30 ft). got some even light but from the side.

You have already been told that the Gary Fong is only useful in small rooms with light colored walls and ceiling. In large rooms it wastes light sending all over the place instead of where it is needed. In rooms with colored walls it will cause color contamination of your subject and should not be used.

Basically the GF Lightsphere is a waste of money and light about 99% of the time. Bouncing light off a wall or ceiling is far more efficient and once you learn how to do it you will get better results than with the Lightsphere.

My Question: Is the 580EXII strong enough to bouce off the celiing and light a group 30ft across the pool?

I could put this light on a stand above the camera and shoot head on from 30 ft.

Will this work?

Probably not very well, and the light will be very harsh.

I suggest you buy and read Syl Arena's excellent book, "Speedliter's Handbook".


As explained by Syl, one thing that will help you is to get a couple of pieces of wood about 5'-6' long and mount three flash units on each piece, about 2' apart. Mount each piece of wood on a stand, one on each side of the camera. This should give you enough power to use the flash units at 1/4 of full power and will give you reasonably soft light.

You don't need expensive flash units like the 430EX II for this purpose, but of course if you can borrow three to 5 more then you can use them. Inexpensive flash units like the Yongnuo YN-460 II or the even cheaper Neewer TT520 Flash Speedlite will work fine.



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