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homemade bounce cards

lady james , Mar 19, 2004; 12:39 p.m.

So I made some bounce cards from index card . . . I glued colored construction paper to the lined side and voila! One is yellow, the other is black. I've been using the black one exclusively, as I know that black absorbs light and I don't want my photos to wash out. Has anyone else done this? Your results? Thanks!

Responses


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... Timber ... , Mar 19, 2004; 01:12 p.m.

Black does not work as a bounce card. Black could be used to temporarily reduce the effective reflection area of a white card only.

As for black reducing any tendency of "washing out" your photographs. I am puzzled. But I am believing that you are an "auto mode" photographer (GAMP) and you are manipulating the sensor input of your auto mode flash by using a black card in some way.

White plastic is more long lived than white cards from paper. So, I use white plastic. The larger the white card, the more total power output I gain from it. So, you can experiment with size. Mine are much larger than average, about 8x10 or 11x14 with rounded edges. I have smaller ones, or I can reduce the size of the white card by using pin-in black plastic. This is all custom stuff. TAP Plastics has the white plastic material that will bend with 150 degrees of heat, and then set. It can be re-heated and re-set many times, too.

A yellow bounce card is interesting, but i wonder why I would ever use it. A white card loses 2 f stops of power, and yellow should be more. As a result, the yellow card effect would only be seen at close distances, like 5 feet, not 11 feet when the reflector is used for bouncing at the ceiling.

Perhaps you are using the yellow card as a yellow filter and not pointing the original silver reflector at anything but upward. In any case, a yellow filter over the reflector can do this trick more efficiently.

Using a black card as a snoot or partial barn door is an idea I use. It allows the photographer to use a reflector with white card to be used as a barn door: just attach the black card with velcro to the white card and you have a barn door! (one barn door, that is)

Walt Donovan , Mar 19, 2004; 01:35 p.m.

All you're doing with your black card is making your flash work harder to trip the TTL or thyristor (presuming you're not dialing in manual flash). You're gonna run out of flash power real quick that way and your guide number is probably approaching the single digits. Your yellow card is a real mystery to me. What happens when you shoot skin tones using it? Have you shot any slides of people with this setup? Print film doesn't matter cause you could shoot through lime Jello and the lab would compensate so that no one would ever know.

lady james , Mar 20, 2004; 11:27 a.m.

Thanks for the replies . . . I am an extreme novice amateur photographer, so I don't know quite what I'm doing. I know I've seen other photographers use bounce cards, and I know I've seen them come in gray, so I thought I would take it a step further. I actually haven't used the yellow card, though.

Timber, I don't know what a GAMP is. I focus manually, I set the shutter speed manually, but I let the camera choose the aperture. I set the ISO on the flash manually, but use the TTL function.

I guess it's important to mention my subjects . . . I shoot bands in little rock clubs, lit mainly by red lights. (Grr! I hate red lights!) I tried using a cool filter to eliminate red, which worked fine when I didn't use the flash. But when I did use the flash, my photos had this annoying blue tint. So now I only use it for non-flash shots. But I don't like the way my flash shots come out. The entire picture is perfectly illuminated, which (to me) does not capture the intensity of rock shows. So I've been experimenting with different techniques to darken my photos without losing the illumination of the main subject, with very little success.

Okay, I'm not proof-reading this, so I hope it's linear and lucid. Good morning to all!

Robert Zimmerman , Mar 20, 2004; 02:44 p.m.

Why in the world are you letting the camera choose the aperture if you're using a flash and are able to set the shutter speed manually? And why did you pick yellow for a fill card? Confusing. Also, I really don't see any point in trying to bounce light off of a black card. Get a white or silver card to bounce light off of and use the black one to darken certain areas and reduce reflections. If your flash is washing out your photos, try turning it away from your lens and towards the subject you're shooting, get a compendium or lens shade for your camera (or use the black card to shield the light from your lens). Try setting the aperture manually and letting the camera select the shutter speed for a change. Good luck.

Ed Greene , Mar 22, 2004; 02:11 a.m.

It would have helped had you told us what lens, what camera gear-etc.

Thanks for the replies . . . I am an extreme novice amateur photographer, so I don't know quite what I'm doing. I know I've seen other photographers use bounce cards, and I know I've seen them come in gray, so I thought I would take it a step further.

You know bouncing anything absorbs light. The best bounce devices are the ubiquitous Stoffen Omni-bounce but that only in white rooms with low ceilng which in effect, gives you a huge, reflective-soft light source. The other, the better for nearly any other venue is the LUMIQUEST “Pro” system. It bounces controllable light forward.
There are snoots made by Lumiquest that fit large hot shoe flashes like the Vivitar 283/285HV Thyristor flash system. The snoot of course directs a controlled burst of flash straight forward, illuminating a very small area (*performers) and leaving the rest of the ambient (nightclub scene) unlit. But every suggestion of mine involves paying for the ability to absolutely control your flash output.

“I focus manually, I set the shutter speed manually, but I let the camera choose the aperture”.

That is called “shutter priority”. The absolute best inexpensive ($7) manufactured bounce device I ever saw was the Vivitar BD-3. It lived (lives) in your (my) shirt pocket like a flat card and slaps on a flash in a second with its Velcro fastener.

“I set the ISO on the flash (what flash? What type-make?), manually, but use the TTL function.

First, choose Tv (shutter priority) in dark venues.
“I guess it's important to mention my subjects. I shoot bands in little rock clubs, lit mainly by red lights. (Grr! I hate red lights!) I tried using a cool (what is a “cool” filter?) filter to eliminate red, which worked fine when I didn't use the flash. But when I did use the flash, my photos had this annoying blue tint. So now I only use it for non-flash shots. But I don't like the way my flash shots come out”.

Flash @ 5600 and up Kelvin is blue, like the midday Sun. Mixed with red stage lights you get blue to purple fringes.

“The entire picture is perfectly illuminated, which (to me) does not capture the intensity of rock shows. So I've been experimenting with different techniques to darken my photos without losing the illumination of the main subject, with very little success”.

To successfully capture nightclub scenes, you need
1. a 70-200 or the like zoom, preferably with a constant, fast (f /3.5 or faster) aperture or barring that,
2. a constant aperture prime, maybe a 135mm f/2.8 or 3.5. You will also need fast ISO 800 print or slide film (preferably print film), and don’t listen to those who would advise you that “fast” (ISO 800 and above) film is “grainy”. Not true of modern (post 2000) film emulsions that make “grainless”4 x 6 prints.
The “Grainy” fast film appellation was true of pre-1995 emulsions but had disappeared by Y2K.
A sturdy Monopod will help with sharpness.

In venues you describe, with my Canon EOS system, I usually set up with my old, quick, fast handling 80-200 f /2.8 “L” lens, set either my EOS 3 or EOS 1n, sometimes A2 camera body to Tv (shutter priority @ 1/45th second), and when using flash, set my Canon EOS 540EZ flash (for the 1n) or 550EX (for the EOS 3) at minus 1 2/3rds stops FEC (flash exposure compensation) and fire away.
But we don’t know what gear you are shooting. Let us know, hmm?

lady james , Mar 22, 2004; 01:45 p.m.

My 'equipment' is a Pentax ZX-5N body with a Sigma 28-200 3.5/5.6 lens and a Sunpak 266D flash. I am usually within four feet of my subjects. I use 800 speed color Fujifilm Press film . . . The cool filter is an 80A Tiffen filter. I want to replace it with an 82A filter at some point soon.

Is a snoot small and unobtrusive? Besides not wanting to lug around a ton of gear, I don't like calling too much attention to myself in such small, intimate settings.

Here are some pictures I have taken: http://www.sig39.com/ppp

and here are the only pictures I have taken that look exactly the way I want: (This club was perfect- no overhead lights, low white ceiling, white backdrop . . . VERY rare.) http://www.sig39.com/ppp/01312004.html

Thanks so much for the replies!

Jeffrey Abelson , Mar 22, 2004; 05:26 p.m.

I like your photos


70-210 f4 - sb28 with Sto-Fen Omnibounce at 45 degrees either Tmax 100 or FP4

Jeffrey Abelson , Mar 22, 2004; 05:29 p.m.

I should mention that that's Shawn Wilhite (http://www.shawnwilhite.com/) live at Supper.

Tom Menegatos , Mar 22, 2004; 06:39 p.m.

Don't use flash. Nothing kills the mood in club photos like on camera flash. Especially since you say you don't want to be in the way. A bunch of flash pops can be annoying during a performance. There's only one cool use for flash in these types of photos and that's some slow sync effects. Practice handholding at slow shutter speeds, find things to brace yourself against, use a fast film. Fast film IS grainy. It is not grainy compared to film of 10 years ago, but it is grainy compared to slower film.

Throw away your black bounce card. All you're doing is making your flash work harder than it has to. Dial down the flash settings manually in some way. What you're basically doing is shooting in shutter priority mode and letting the flash be a fill. At least that is what it sounds like, which is a good way to shoot. Don't let your on camera flash be the main source of light, better yet.... read my first paragraph! :)

An omnibounce is not an effective bounce device. As Ed Green states, it's meant to be used in an area with a lot of white surfaces nearby that can bounce the flash. If your shooting in a large area, or someplace with mostly dark walls (like most clubs) it's useless. Anyone using an omnibounce somewhere like that might as well by a 8 pack of batteries for their flash and immediately throw 4 of them away after opening the package. :)

Talk to someone at the club see if they can turn up the lights a bit. I've been able to get good results at places that were very dark and only had about a half dozen "stage lights" with household rated bulbs. The shot on the right was taken in such a place.

Looks and sounds like you're underexposing some (most?) of your shots. The lights don't have to be that red. Give it more exposure and you'll have more info on the film. If you've ever read the spec sheet on mosts films, they have different recomended ISO settings for different types of lighting. THe film is generally slower under tungsten light.

Read Steve Mirachi's article on photographing concerts in the Learn section of this site.

If you want to use the blue filter with flash, put an yellow/amber gel over the flash. I still recommend keeping the flash in your bag though. You'll probably get a higher ratio of shots you throw away but the shots you wind up keeping will look a lot better.


some examples

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