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Barn Doors and Blue Dragons

After reading Zeke's Nice Photo review of some pretty spiffy $10 speedlight-compatible barn doors, I ordered a set and did a little playing around recently.

Probably not using them the way they were intended, of course. I went with on-camera flash on a point and shoot...


My son, Ben is growing up fast. He's seven years old and playing on his first competitive team -- the "Blue Dragons" in the local soccer league. He's looking more and more like a big kid every day, which as a dad is both a good thing and a sad thing to me.

Usually, the growing up process is a gradual thing in which you only notice the changes after they have happened. But in his last soccer game he drove end-to-end and shot one past the goalie for his first goal of the season (shown at left).

Then he just stood there with a bemused smile on his face. ("Wait, I did WHAT?")

He was a different person right from that moment. He has the soccer bug 110% now, and wants to score two goals in his next game. We watch highlight reals from the pros on YouTube together.

His soccer season is almost over. They play their last game today, and have a chance to end the season with a winning record.

He's not much for posing for pictures. But I am trying to make shots of him now that show the mix of little kid and big kid inside. Which is where the SP Systems barn doors came in.

I have been experimenting with the "fill-first" technique I talked about with Jessie and expanding that into other lighting styles and ratios.

Barn doors basically allow you to control the spill of the flash in four different directions. Sort of like an adjustable snoot. For this shot of Ben, I used a Canon G9 with an SB-800 mounted on the hot shoe and a set of SP Barn Doors clamped to the flash. (I am pretty sure that's the first time that combo has ever been used together...)

I like the way the light looks. When you are paying attention to your ambient flash balance and restricting light, even on-camera light can have a textured, subtle look.

I knew from experience that I only had a minute or two before I'd lose him. So I got into manual mode, got a good ambient exposure, dropped it down just a stop, and then added flash set in manual mode. (This was shot outdoors, in shade.)

I just chimped the results with flash and quicky dialed in a power level that looked good on the screen. The barn doors allowed me to just rake some light across the fence and the top part of his face to keep it interesting.

Note that I am specifically not mentioning f/stops, shutter speeds and flash power levels. Those numbers are not really important -- it is the process of choosing where your fill will be, relative to your main light, that is important.

Using a subtle lighting ratio and restricted beam can even on-camera light look a little unusual. And the hard quality of the light isn't so tough to deal with when the ambient is supporting it so closely. The one thing I did not like was the shadow behind the camera left ear, so I fixed that in post. (Hey, it's a snapshot, okay...)

As for the barn doors, they will fit the big SB-26s, and even the little SB-800s if you build up the side opposite the little clamp with some gaffer's tape. They fold up nice and small, too. Very nice.

And in just a couple of minutes I found a new way to play with a new light mod for a go-to technique on a headshot. I'll definitely be playing more with this in the future.

But not this afternoon -- I'll be busy shooting a soccer game. Go Big Blue.


:: Nice Photo - Barn Doors Review ::
:: DIY Barn Doors ::
:: Blue Dragon Fevah: Catch It ::


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