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Learning To Use Flash - Bracket vs. Hotshoe? O.o

Vlad Khavin , Jun 26, 2006; 10:46 p.m.

I'm planning to make a trip to the store this weekend and pick up a 580EX. First order of business; Nadine's flash assignment. I've already read it 3 times over, but figure I may as well wait for a real flash to try and do it. Better late than never. But here's the question. I know it's pretty much a given that I will need a bracket to get the flash off the camera for any serious shooting. But do I need it right away, since I am just practicing the techniques? Since I'm not looking for pro grade final product here, but more to go through and learn the concepts, will the lack of bracket affect what I get out of the assignment and my own experimentation thereafter?

Thanks in advance, Vlad


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Tim Corridan - Queen Creek, Arizona , Jun 26, 2006; 11:10 p.m.

a flash bracket is like a camera bag. most have a couple of dead ones in the closet. try not to buy one till you've researched all of them, try one or two out if you can, find out what works with the gear you have....if your buying your first flash, you probably will have enough to learn for quite awhile, without spending another wad. might as well start off right from the begining with a bunch of rechargable batterries.

Vlad Khavin , Jun 26, 2006; 11:17 p.m.

Thanks, Tim! I guess that answers it. To be honest, the more I thought about my question (which seemed like a terribly good one, right up until 5 minutes after I posted it), the more I think it's a pretty silly one. The small differeince in the placement of the flash should not make a difference as far as settings go.

Sorry. Had a stupid moment, there.

Al Kaplan - Miami, FL , Jun 26, 2006; 11:24 p.m.

I don't shoot with a huge DSLR and zoom lens so I mostly hold the camera in my right hand and the flash in my left. My "workhorse" flash is the Vivitar 283.

Gary Nakayama , Jun 26, 2006; 11:55 p.m.


A bracket is not necessary now. But you will want one in a bit, to get off camera flash position. Al does it the way I used to shoot. A handle mount flash on a camera bracket, but only to carry. I used to hold the flash over my head at arms length.

The main thing is do you feel comfortable with the flash on the hot shoe. If not, an inexpensive bracket would be a good idea, until you figure what you want. A Stroboframe Quick Flip or similar off eBay would be the most economical route. Just watch the bidding, I've seen bidding for stuff go higher than what Adorama and B&H sells for. And watch that it has the flash shoe mount, some don't.


Al Kaplan - Miami, FL , Jun 27, 2006; 12:43 a.m.

Believe me, if I went through the closets and boxes around here I could open the Bracket Store, or maybe the Bracket Museum would be a more apt description considering the age of some of them...LOL, but after all of that I've concluded that just holding the flash in my left hand is easier. I suspect that if all the photographer over age 50 on this forum were to put their unused brackets in a single pile we'd have a decent size mountain to remind us of all the money we waste chasing the dream...

Khalil ismail - Palm Desert California , Jun 27, 2006; 01:54 a.m.

Al That could work for you, I tried holding the flash in one hand an dthe camera in the other, how are you shot with low shutter holding the camera in one hand.. I like using the bracket thought it is added weight, no trouble with shadow or Red eye. I find it that what easy for some of us it is hard for others and vice versa, I agree to try anything till you find your comfort zone...

Jim Strutz - Anchorage, AK , Jun 27, 2006; 03:28 a.m.

If you buy the bracket you will also need a way to trigger it off camera. The Canon Off Camera Shoe Cord 2 (OCSC2) is the usual low cost way ($60-70). The wireless ST-E2 is better in several ways, but will set you back a lot more. Personally, I would forget the bracket for now, but get the cord so you can try doing what Al does. Of course, he's doing it with smaller cameras and non-zoom lenses. Still, the cord is handy at times.

Al Kaplan - Miami, FL , Jun 27, 2006; 08:37 a.m.

Khalil, I regularly shoot with a 35mm lens one handed at 1/15, even 1/8 and 1/4 sometimes. Consider your face as a second support for the camera, lightly pressing the camera against it. With a rangefinder camera there's no mirror shake, and you can see the subject through the finder during the exposure and keep it aligned with the frame lines. Relax, don't hold the camera in a death grip. Practice arching your right index finger and moving just the tip in a straight up and down motion with no other muscle in your hand moving, just the index finger. You don't need the camera to practice this. Practice your breathing, nice slow even breaths. They say that shooting on the exhale is best, but it's most important to just calm yourself down. Make two or three exposures to be safe.

When using a flash in low light it's only the ambient (available) light that's being affected by the low shutter speed. The flash will give you a crisp image perhaps surrounded by a slightly blurred image, but it likely won't be noticeable, or at least not bothersome. Practice is the key. Practice the breathing, the finger movement, holding the camera pressed against your eye socket and cheek bones.

With shorter lenses it's even easier. Click on my name and go to my Photonet "self portrait" portfolios, a fun project that I'm still doing. Those shots are all done holding the camera out at arms length in one hand pointing back at myself with the 15mm f/4.5 Heliar lens. The ones shot inside are mostly 1/4 to 1/15 second, with a few as long as 1 second, but those really slow ones usually are shot with my camera hand pressed against a wall, a tree trunk, a chair back, or something. Some are shot right handed, others left handed.

The strangest thing is that I've shot a few while at commercial assignments and at weddings and they've appeared in web sites and used in a few albums...LOL

Ninh T , Jun 27, 2006; 09:14 a.m.

I do weddings. I never leave home without the camera flip bracket http://www.tiffen.com/userimages/Strobo_RL_CameraFlip.pdf If you don't want to use bracket and have the flash bounce to the cellings or get Gary fong's lightsphere (for short distance). Hope this help.


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