Overpowering the sun

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Bike_Maverick
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Posted Thu Mar 14, 2013 4:44PM
/
/Hey folks with knowledge.


Does anyone have experience overpowering the sun with AB1600 / Einstens? Is it enough power to be using them with light modifyers like softboxes and such?


Conditionas I'm looking at is full height, small groups like 1-2-3 people, 3 strobes in total max (including rim lights).


Note that by overpowering I don't mean compensating for the sun and providing fill light, I mean stopping down the sun lit environment by 1-2-3 stops and lighting the model as I please. Or should I be looking at something completely different and more powerfull (and WAY more money)?


Examples would be appreciated

(Edited on 2013-03-14 16:45:11 by Bike_Maverick)
keithferrisphoto
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Posted Thu Mar 14, 2013 4:49PM
Should work but not sure about the softboxes. I use an einstein with a standard reflector for formals when I shoot weddings and I have to dial it way down. I wouldn't try softboxes. You may have to use them with a baffle or two out of them and use them super close. I would try the PCB parabolic umbrellas since they're super efficient. A beauty dish would work too.

(Edited on 2013-03-14 16:50:44 by keithferrisphoto)
Bike_Maverick
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Posted Thu Mar 14, 2013 5:32PM

I already have silver beauty dish with the sock and 30 degrees grid (there was a good deal on craigslist)


The plan is to have one or two PLMs (probably one extreme silver and one soft silver), one stripbox with grid and two softboxes medium with grids. I wanted an octabox but I figured between PLM with diffusion panel and a beautydish I can get by without an octa. Plus, honestly, I'm mostly looking to shoot outside (studio gets boring pretty quick), so a large octa would be a pretty awesome sail material (so is PLM, but at least it's light and cheap and more light-efficient).


I'm just worried that 3 AB1600s (with two Vagabond mini) won't be enough to do what I wanna do and then I'll pay close to $3K for a set that's useless to me.
simazoran
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Posted Thu Mar 14, 2013 5:32PM
Beauty dish, especialy in windy days.
Bike_Maverick
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Posted Thu Mar 14, 2013 5:44PM

Any examples to share? Full power or half power?
lostinbids
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Posted Thu Mar 14, 2013 5:45PM

My understanding is you need about 1200w to overpower the sun.  I think the ab1600 put out about 600w.  This is quite an interesting read http://stepheneastwood.com/blog/?p=71
CEFutcher
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Posted Thu Mar 14, 2013 8:26PM
AB1600 and Einsteins are not brighter than the sun with soft boxes. You'll need high output reflectors on them. Why do you want to overpower the sun anyway? Especially with a softbox? Images taken with flash outdoors at 250th of a second have absolutely no debth and look fake. There are some sports shots that can look neat but I haven't even attempted overpowering the sun in years. No reason to.
Bike_Maverick
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Posted Fri Mar 15, 2013 6:23PM
Because I think if done properly it looks cool? And if not, it's always easier to dial down than to discover that you need more power.
inhauscreative
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Posted Fri Mar 15, 2013 8:05PM

You can do it with a 1600, sun needs to be lower in the sky, no diffuser on softbox,


but Elinchrom Rangers do wonders, pricey but great.

(Edited on 2013-03-15 20:11:22 by inhauscreative)
lostinbids
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Posted Sat Mar 16, 2013 1:09PM
Bike_Maverick, I found the Hensel Porty12 to be pretty good if you are after a powerful portable pack.
OliverChilds
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Posted Sat Mar 16, 2013 7:41PM
I think your plan is fatally flawed from the start, here's why. The ambient light of the background is unaffected by the flash and is subject to the normal rules of exposure, so you will be setting your camera to underexpose the background as normal except for the shutter speed which can not exceed the camera's synch speed, let's say 1/200th sec.


 So on a sunny day you are going to be looking at ISO 100 at 1/125 - F16 to give you a regular exposure, and I am not talking about pointing the camera towards the sun here. To underexpose that by a couple of stops then you would have to stop down the lens to F32 at least, more if you wanted to point the camera at the sun. You would be setting the camera to its limits (lowest ISO, fastest shutter speed possible, smallest aperture) so that it is at it's least sensitive to light and the least amount of light possible is allowed to enter it. These are the worst possible conditions for the flash and will mean that in order for the flash to stand a chance it will need to be as close to the subject as possible, literally just outside the frame. For example, a flash that is six feet from the subject has to be four times as powerful as a flash that is three feet from the subject. It will also be operating at or close to it's maximum output because the camera is set to do everything within it's power to keep light out. Adding a soft box will be asking even more of the flash and whether it would be up to the task is unlikely especially with a group of three. Even if it could provide a large enough burst of light to expose the subject it would, like the camera, be operating at it's limits. Addeed to this you will effectively be relinquishing creative control of the image as you will be stuck at that exposure, unable to shoot with any other settings, stuck using the smallest aperture with its particular depth of field.


 The sticking point in all of this is the inability to shoot at shutter speeds faster than the synch speed. I think the answer to your situation is to use speedlights. All modern DSLRs can shoot in high speed flash mode when combined with a dedicated flash. This means that you can shoot at any shutter speed which in turn allows you to regain control of the aperture. Now instead of being stuck at the limits (ISO 100 - 1/125 - F 32) you could instead underexpose the ambient light through using a fast shutter speed, 1/8000th sec at F4 for example. The flash exposure is governed by the aperture and now that the camera is is high speed flash mode the shutter speed is not an issue, and it will have no effect on the flash exposure. An aperture of F32 requires the suject to be lit 64 times more brightly compared to an aperture of F4, so being able to use the wide apertures stresses the flash a lot less, and does not require it to be so powerful. For a sunny day exposure where the ambient light is not underexposed you can easily set up the camera and speedlight(s) and be using the full range of apertures. It still is a good idea to bring the flashes in as close as possible and maybe even raise the ISO to 200 or 400 to give the flash less to contend with and increase its effective power. A very full range of light modifiers, stands, clamps etc can easily be set up and don't require external battery packs, though external battery packs would help, they are not essential.


 For the type of shot you have in mind I would go with dedicated speed lights every time. Joe McNally writes eloquently about speed lights and I would recommend his books to you. I have just read "The hot shoe diaries" and if it does not inspire you to use Speed lights I don't know what will. I got a lot out of reading his book and if I were a Nikon shooter I would have got even more. 


 I hope this helps , and makes sense. It is getting kind of late here.

(Edited on 2013-03-16 20:05:38 by OliverChilds)
Bike_Maverick
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Posted Sat Mar 16, 2013 8:58PM

Yeah, Hensel does look good but dude, it costs more than four AB1600s with few vagabond minis thrown in I am actually attracted to the fact that AB1600 with Vagabond Mini will be pretty easy to get to/from location. Powerpacks will make matters more complicated (=heavy).


Elinchrom Rangers look great (also light) but they are damn expensive - I can't pull it off just yet
Bike_Maverick
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Posted Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:03PM

Thanks for explaining the theory to me, but I know it all I also know that this theory doesn't really work in real life due to factors like type and effectiveness of light modifier, etc.


I've used speedlights for a long time and their light qulity is simply not enough. They are nearly not powerful enough to light full height group of people which is what I need. I don't have to be stuck at high F numbers if I have powerful strobes if I use ND filters on my lens btw.
DaydreamsGirl
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Posted Sun Mar 17, 2013 11:21AM
I think with 2 or 3 AB1600's or Einsteins, along with your modifiers, you'd be more than happy with what you can do in full sun. I prefer Einsteins to the 1600's just because they're more versatile. Shooting in full mid day sun is fun when you have the power, but sometimes you do just want a bit of fill and need to turn it down a bunch, or use the sun as one of the light sources. I've never wished I had more than what the Einstein can produce. My most used modifier for outdoors is a 22' White Beauty Dish, with or without a sock, and I generally use only one light and use the ambient. But I do shoot without an assistant and I live in a breezy part of the world, and I like to move around a lot without dragging an entire studio around.

Have you looked into HyperSync? Getting the Pocket Wizard system that will do it is on my list. With it you can push your shutter speeds way past the sync speed and use wider apertures and stop motion while using ambient light and flash, or just have the ability to use the shutter to cut out more ambient than 1/200 can do. Dang. Just talking about it makes me itchy to go order new PW's.
BanksPhotos
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Posted Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:09PM
Bike_Maverick: I sent you a PM with some examples using the Einsteins in very sunny situations. I failed to mention I used NDs on all of those shots.
Bike_Maverick
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Posted Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:41PM
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/DaydreamsGirl - thanks! I do have a 22" beauty dish and I do plan to use it heavily outside smile When I can get an assistant I may throw in a PLM which is extremely effective with the power. Without an assistant it'll be a flying kite the second I let it go though.


Keep in mind that PWs hypersync won't work very well with Einsteins (if it will work at all - I haven't seen evidence of that yet) because their flash duraion is so short. If you have Canon 5D whatever - even worse, I don't think you'll gain even one stop with them. Nikons are apparently are a much better system when it comes to fast syncing. Maybe I should migrate


Anyways, AB1600s would be actually better for hypersync because they burn slow.


BanksPhotos - thanks a lot! I noticed the sitemail just now, it's awesome. I ordered three AB1600s smile Lightstands, sotboxes, couple different PLMs, couple vagabond minis... Got a beuty dish off a craigslist for a steal deal. I wanted Einsteins instead of ABs but they are on a backorder now and I don't have time to wait, plus I had budget only for two Einsteins or three ABs and after all I figured I needed 3 strobes.


I think Paul C Buff and my credit card are now legally married in some states.

(Edited on 2013-03-17 21:43:33 by Bike_Maverick)
BanksPhotos
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Posted Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:45PM
Posted By DaydreamsGirl:
Have you looked into HyperSync?



This interested me and I went to have a look. From the PocketWizard site, "Flash with longer duration bursts matched with cameras with fast shutter systems will provide the best results." The Einsteins have some of the fastest duration bursts of any light available. I could see HyperSync working with some of my older Photogenics which have a much longer flash pop. The whole point of fast lights is to freeze action which the Einstins do very well. The problem I see with HyperSync is that you would always need a shutter speed slower than your flash duration. With the Einstens this is about 1/600 of a second at full power. Once you drop the power the flash duration goes up. So if you wanted to shoot at 1/1,000 with HyperSync you would be stuck near full power. If you drop the power there is a chance the flash fires before or after the shutter has closed. This is probably why this statement is also on the PW site, "HyperSync images may see gradations or variations in exposure across the frame." I see HyperSync especially problematic when mixing ambient and Einsteins. As an Einstein user, I would be itchy to do some more research before ordering new PW's.


ETA: Bike_Maverick made the same comment while I was thinking and typing. At least now I know I wasn't having completely crazy thoughts.

(Edited on 2013-03-17 21:49:38 by BanksPhotos)
BanksPhotos
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Posted Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:59PM
I have two of the 1600s as well and they are great lights. However, once I got the Einsteins I haven't touched the 1600s. PCB offers a 60 day satisfaction guarantee. So if you decide you would rather have the Einsteins or you come across some extra cash in 60 days the Einsteins should be back in stock and they will happily exchange them for you. Paul Buff and your credit card just got engaged after three years of spending with them my card is legally married.
DaydreamsGirl
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Posted Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:19AM
Interesting. I do have some AB800's I could pile up and older Canons I could use, so new PW's are still on the list. Bummer the hypersync doesn't work that great with the 5D whatevers and Einsteins. The motion stopping ability of the Einstein in studio is pretty great. All the shots in this LB are with the Einstein: http://www.istockphoto.com/search/lightbox/10934159#16c81714

BikeMaverick, you'll love your 1600's

(Edited on 2013-03-18 10:21:18 by DaydreamsGirl)
inhauscreative
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Posted Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:30PM
are you trying to get a "star burst" look from the sun or just shooting on sunny days?
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