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Monday, November 5, 2007

Using the Gary Fong Whaletail Flash Diffuser

I just had a question about using the Whaletail, outdoors at night. He was also concerned about getting the raccoon eye effect.

"I have two questions, what kind of shots can you get with the Whale Tail at night time outside, where you would not be able to bounce at anything, except for trees and whatever is hanging around. My second question is, what settings do you use in doing this? I have a D80 and a SB-600, I don't want the Racoon or the headlight shot effect in my pictures.


First, let me talk about outside, in open shade. In this case, you are pretty safe with the flash on TTL and the camera on Program. Usually, you can keep both flaps closed, because you are only looking for fill flash. If you find that the specular highlights are too hot, you can add negative compensation on the flash. The idea situation would be to have the flash off camera so that you can move it closer or further away. with changing camera location. If you have a flash meter, you could meter for the sky or backgrond, then dial the flash it at a stop or two less.

At night, you are probably getting most or all of your light from the flash. In this situation, point the curved portion of the WT toward the subject and open the top - top flap straight up. Depending on distance, you may want to add the chrome/silver flaps -- or just line the flaps with foil.

Instead of shooting in program mode, put the camera in Manual, open to the widest aperture, and drag the shutter -- maybe 1/30. Also, shoot at ISO 800. The flash is on TTL. Since the flash is putting out 1/10000 - or faster - burst, you don't have to worry about motion blur.

The raccoon effect comes from the angle of reflectance being to sharp -- the angle that the light bounces of the ceiling is so sharp that it puts a shadow in the eye sockets, under the chin, etc.

This generally occurs when you are under a low ceiling -- like a home or office. The obvious solution is to back up - increase the distance between the flash and the subject. Unfortunately, that may no be possible, so the other solution is to reduce the amount of light that is being reflected from the ceiling. Do this by closing the top flap -- or trimming it (partially closing it) until you get the desired

Remember, with the WT, the SOFTEST position is with the curved top pointing AWAY from the subject and the top flap straight up -- giving a large flat surface from the two flaps. The POWER position is to have the curved portion of the WT pointing toward the subject, with the top flap almost straight up.

Indoor settings are flash on TTL, aperture fairly wide open (2.8, 4.0), ISO 400 - 800, and shutter 1/60 to 1/30.

These are all starting points. You may want to modify some of them, depending on your specific situation.

I hope this helps.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    This is a very useful post - thanks.

    Another solution indoors to avoid the racoon eye effect is to bounce the flash on a wall rather than the ceiling.