Flash Photography – How Much Is Too Much?

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During my short trip to Singapore I chanced upon an Anime Matsuri happening at Funan – true to form, there were plenty of cosplayers out on the floor, a special guest ‘celebrity’ cosplayer (Sakuya), and even a ‘Maid Cafe’ where you cant take photos as part of the appeal.

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Events like these never lack photographers/enthusiasts with varying levels of interest, intent and of course, skill, having the opportunity to shoot kawaii models in all sorts of colorful costumes and completely in character is something youd not want to pass up especially when buiding up your portfolio.

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When you see plenty of cameras converged like above, you can almost be sure that there’d be a cosplayer on the other end.

Most of the snappers would probably shoot using available light but those who know better (or are simply using the flash because it is aavilable) would add a flash unit to their setup that will most likely be diffused and is utilizing a bounce card. Light manipulation and control IS photography after all. Here is where the interest of this post lies – see below:

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While it still is technically an on-camera flash setup, flash power is bent, diffused, reduced, scattered and even rotates to maintain the configuration whether shooting in portrait or landscape.

The flash is completely manual as revealed by a zoomed in view which probably means that its always set to fire at a singular power setting… probably half power all accessories considered.

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The camera he’s weilding (along the lines of a full frame Canon I reckon) with the pack on his back suggests experience – theres no fooling around when he decides to make you his subject.

Only with a very specific light and shadow falloff effect can I imagine using a similar setup in a mobile state.. you can’t even let the camera dangle beside you because that much flash and armature is sure to catch on something and will annoy people around you to no end. Is it possibly worth it in the end? I’d say with enough experience and distance you can probably create extreme separation with super sharp details (up to hair strands) with this kind of setup… are there too many accessories on this persons flash unit? sure looks like it… but that might not be the correct question to ask… for all we know his outputs might be akin to the next Rembrandt.

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