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Archive 2012 · Ideal shutter speed for low light dancing & general r...
  
 
sherijohnson
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p.1 #1 · Ideal shutter speed for low light dancing & general reception shots


I thought I would ask what you think is the ideal shutter speed when using flash for freezing any movement to result in a sharp enough image and the max amount of keeper images. I know every lighting situation varies.... but for the most part, very dim or low lighting with on camera bounced flash during an evening reception, many times I observe similar lighting and the thought came to mind to ask others what they think is ideal. I like to think I have a fairly steady hand, so I normally assume anytime I end up with an image where there appears to be movement that it's because the subject may have moved or the shutter speed was too slow to get a sharp image, it doesn't happen often, but sometimes you attempt a few shots and don't get the "pose" or intended shot which of course is a let down especially when they may likely remember you took their picture and then later they don't see it and wonder what happened. I am sure someone can relate.


Oct 15, 2012 at 03:11 AM
DmitriM
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p.1 #2 · Ideal shutter speed for low light dancing & general reception shots


With a flash, you can easily freeze 1/20th dancing...
Otherwise it's best to keep it over 1/160

Unless of course you are shooting with a 400mm lens then it's more like 1/400



Oct 15, 2012 at 03:24 AM
joelconner
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p.1 #3 · Ideal shutter speed for low light dancing & general reception shots


It all depends on how much ambient light is in the room and your aperture. If you are keeping your aperture closed down (or ISO low enough) to the point where ambient is at a minimum and you are keeping your flashes powered up enough, you have have a VERY slow shutter speed and still get perfectly sharp images. Since the flash is instantaneous, the only thing that would add blur would be if additional ambient light is factoring into the exposure. This is why when intentionally dragging your shutter during dance shots, for example, can yield perfectly sharp subjects even at 1 second exposures.


Oct 15, 2012 at 03:27 AM
mccallmedia
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p.1 #4 · Ideal shutter speed for low light dancing & general reception shots


Yeah, that really all depends on several variables. I try to avoid on-camera flash when possible, so when I do use an on-camera flash at a reception it's either because a) I can't push my ISOs any higher, aperture any larger, or shutter speeds any slower to get proper exposure so I have to use flash to fill in light. Or b) I'm photographing dancing with slow shutter speeds and the flash on curtain sync to try to get some light streaks.

In the first case I set my shutter where it needs to be -- probly around 1/60 for images where there isn't much movement or 1/160 if there is movement -- I push my ISO as high as I feel comfortable going and I use the strobe to fill in whatever light is needed to get proper exposure on the subject.

Here's an example taken at 50mm, 1/50, f/2, using the strobe on low power:







In the other case, I set my ISO low - usually in the 50-200 range, and drag my shutter out to 1/10 to 1/2 sec typically, popping the flash at the end of the exposure which freezes the subject.

Here's an example taken at 35mm, .4 second, f/4.5 using the strobe on high power:







Hopefully that helps some



Oct 15, 2012 at 04:11 AM
joelconner
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p.1 #5 · Ideal shutter speed for low light dancing & general reception shots


mccallmedia wrote:
In the other case, I set my ISO low - usually in the 50-200 range, and drag my shutter out to 1/10 to 1/2 sec typically, popping the flash at the end of the exposure which freezes the subject.



Out of curiosity, why do you use rear curtain sync in situations like this? For me, the most important moment is when the flash fires...since that is the moment that makes up what the photo really is. I feel like if I was shooting rear curtain, I would miss a lot of those extremely brief moments in the lag between the shutter opening and the flash firing



Oct 15, 2012 at 05:51 AM
mccallmedia
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p.1 #6 · Ideal shutter speed for low light dancing & general reception shots


joelconner wrote:
Out of curiosity, why do you use rear curtain sync in situations like this? For me, the most important moment is when the flash fires...since that is the moment that makes up what the photo really is. I feel like if I was shooting rear curtain, I would miss a lot of those extremely brief moments in the lag between the shutter opening and the flash firing


It makes more sense to freeze the subject at the end so their motion blur trails from behind them. Yes?

I don't really like the look of front curtain sync with long exposure. It looks backward to me because the motion is trailing the subject from the wrong direction. I've just learned to be on my toes to not miss anything because really at most you're looking at about a half second of delay before the flash fires with rear sync.



Oct 15, 2012 at 06:48 AM
sherijohnson
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p.1 #7 · Ideal shutter speed for low light dancing & general reception shots


good discussion so far, I will have to look at the settings again, I think I was maybe at 1/60th on a few shots that just don't look very sharp and they were standing still, it makes me wonder if they moved or if I did... or what.... most of my shots at that setting are sharp. I try not to get too slow of a shutter speed since I like crispy images most of the time. I will only slow things down when I really want to accentuate movement.


Oct 15, 2012 at 10:44 AM
ricardovaste
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p.1 #8 · Ideal shutter speed for low light dancing & general reception shots


What focal length are you commonly using in such situations? I would throw away anything that isn't really fast and focusing, as that an be the biggest challenge much of the time. For me that means 85mm is my longest lens, and 35mm used quite often here too. As for actual shutter speeds, without flash it can depend on the obvious things (subject movement, focal length), but I guess I keep it above 1/60th much of the time. But the great thing about stabilization is that I can shoot even lower than that and get usable results. With flash, I'm often something like 1/8 - 1/160. The flash will always freeze the action, so to speak... but with lower speeds I'm using rear sync and a wider angle lens too (zone focus). And yes I too prefer rear sync so that the subject is the last thing illuminated, rather than having the blur all over them.


Oct 15, 2012 at 11:06 AM
joelconner
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p.1 #9 · Ideal shutter speed for low light dancing & general reception shots


mccallmedia wrote:
It makes more sense to freeze the subject at the end so their motion blur trails from behind them. Yes?

I don't really like the look of front curtain sync with long exposure. It looks backward to me because the motion is trailing the subject from the wrong direction. I've just learned to be on my toes to not miss anything because really at most you're looking at about a half second of delay before the flash fires with rear sync.



It only if you are letting in enough ambient that the light reflecting off of the subjects is actually factoring into the exposure. When I am shooting in situations like this, I am limiting most of the general ambient...the only light that really factors in is my OCF's and the actual light sources in the room (chandeliers, dj lights, wall lights, etc.). So, I have movement trails from the light sources themselves and not the subjects. Different strokes...I think that 1/2 second delay would drive me nuts lol



Oct 15, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Robin Usagani
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p.1 #10 · Ideal shutter speed for low light dancing & general reception shots


Really depends on the ambient. I you have people dancing and there is a bright light shinning on them, you have to have the shutter fast.


Oct 15, 2012 at 05:03 PM
 

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friscoron
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p.1 #11 · Ideal shutter speed for low light dancing & general reception shots


sherijohnson wrote:
good discussion so far, I will have to look at the settings again, I think I was maybe at 1/60th on a few shots that just don't look very sharp and they were standing still, it makes me wonder if they moved or if I did... or what.... most of my shots at that setting are sharp. I try not to get too slow of a shutter speed since I like crispy images most of the time. I will only slow things down when I really want to accentuate movement.


If you're at 1/60 with exposure matching ambient light, it's easy to get camera movement no matter how still you are, especially in an environment like that. The flash freezes the subject best when the exposure is set lower than the ambient light (so it only picks up the lights), when you're dragging the shutter at 1/20 or 1/30 or whatever. Hope this helps.



Oct 15, 2012 at 05:03 PM
sherijohnson
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p.1 #12 · Ideal shutter speed for low light dancing & general reception shots


I am definitely going to experiment more with this. This weekend I will be shooting at a non-wedding event.... plenty of time to play around and it will be the same kind of lighting scenario. Oh, I just looked at the pictures in question..... they were not at 1/60th.... it was 1/15th.... that explains my confusion......... but I am still enjoying this discussion.... I have no idea what in the world I did on those 2 shots.... It is very possible I was set up for something else and then they asked me to take their picture and thought I had turned the setting to something else real fast because I changed it right after that probably when I realized my mistake, can you feel my frustration? I was dealing with some very crazy lighting on this one and trying to avoid certain backdrops. Oh, I wish I had been able to set up my lights........


Oct 15, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Gary Hopkins
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p.1 #13 · Ideal shutter speed for low light dancing & general reception shots


I have a couple questions. I'm a little "rusty" with my flash work.

I understand flash freezes the motion and I understand how my camera settings affect the ambient light, but how does the flash need to be set?

Should it be direct or bounce?
Should the power be set manually or can you use ETTL?

I tried doing this technique with RCS enabled and average shutter speed of 1/60 (2.8) using bounce flash and kept ETTL on and I can say that my pictures definitely did not turn out how I wanted them to. I did not have any light streaks and the majority of them were all underexposed or the subjects were blurry. I'm guessing my biggest problem was by keeping ETTL on, since it wasn't getting the proper exposure reading due to all of the lights it was seeing, but just want confirmation that that is my problem. Also bouncing the light probably made me lose some of my light output power and if anything probably helped kill my batteries that much faster .

PS This was not anything professional and I took them later in the night after the hired photog had left.

Thanks



Oct 16, 2012 at 04:07 PM
form
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p.1 #14 · Ideal shutter speed for low light dancing & general reception shots


Blending ambient and flash is always a challenge for me. I have tended to set my off-camera flashes at 1/16 power and boost ISO to 1600ish to get exposures that I consider somewhat balanced - so that the flash is not so powerful that it doesn't force me to make the room look very dark, but so I can also have a shutter speed somewhere between 1/100-1/160 to avoid ghosting. I really don't want ghosting, unless I intentionally do it.


Oct 16, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Mark_L
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p.1 #15 · Ideal shutter speed for low light dancing & general reception shots


There is no one answer to this because the bigger proportion of ambient in your exposure the faster shutter speed you need to avoid any ghosting. If you have so little ambient so only the practicals in the room are showing up you can use almost whatever speed you want.

I take a meter reading one stop underexposed then chimp some test shots at different shutter speeds (varying iso) seeing how slow I can go before I get ghosting. Then I set my OCF(s) to bring up the rest of of the exposure. If its really dark, having flash one stop above ambient may not be feasible without crazy iso in which case I will use a higher proportion of flash in the exposure.



Oct 16, 2012 at 07:29 PM
RoadconePhoto
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p.1 #16 · Ideal shutter speed for low light dancing & general reception shots


you'll never know until you try it and check it quickly on the back of the camera during your shoot... thats the beauty of digital... you dont need light meters or anything anymore. click, check, adjust and VOILA!


Oct 22, 2012 at 02:07 PM
sherijohnson
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p.1 #17 · Ideal shutter speed for low light dancing & general reception shots


sometimes you don't know exactly what you got until you see it on your big screen on your computer.... you know, where you can see it much larger. I experimented with settings this past weekend and I did find out that I got better results with a lower ISO, and a faster shutter speed, and for some of the shots, I did use some off camera lighting. I tried something I thought about a few months ago, I had my 10 ft projector screen up for their slideshow they created and I placed a light behind it essentially made it into a giant softbox, I don't get to use this screen all of the time, but it was fun for me to try it out to see if it would do what I was hoping it would.


Oct 22, 2012 at 10:44 PM
D Landin
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p.1 #18 · Ideal shutter speed for low light dancing & general reception shots


I typically shoot using 2 off camera flashes at opposed sides of the dance floor areas and one more placed, on some occasions farther off in the reception area. I basically set the 2 primary flashes up the exact same using basic PW's. I have each flash initially bounced off the ceiling early in the reception and during the formal dinners and wedding events for better lighting. I typically set the flashes so they are producing light approximately 2 stops higher than the ambient light which most often lets me shoot around 100 sec between 3.5 and 5.6. at ISO 600.

Moving into what I call the "dance rounds" when the lights go down!!! all I do switch the flashes from a bounce position to a direct position.... AND . I add a deep red gel to one flash and an alternate color gel to the second flash. I still shoot at 100-160thsec 3.5-5.6 at ISO 600 then add my on camera flash powered at 16th so I can get some additional white light on the subject.

The off camera lights now blend into the disco scene (under my control) and my on camera flash does its job without blinding the guests!!!!!

Oh... I also shoot second curtain in the low light shooting situations!!!



Nov 03, 2012 at 04:34 AM
Homey
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p.1 #19 · Ideal shutter speed for low light dancing & general reception shots


Good topic Sheri.

So here is a quick lesson in how flash works for my FM friends.

There are 2 major factors in this.
1st) Is ambient light. How much ambient is in your final exposure is key to how much blur or ghosting there will be.
My rule of thumb is this. If the ambient light is to low to allow me a decent, action stopping image, I need to shoot at least 2 to 3 stops above ambient to eliminate any ambient light artifacts from the final image.

2nd) is how your using flash to light your subjects. It does not matter if your using a strobe, flash unit off camera or flash unit on camera. If that unit is set to manual mode it will give you 1 flash and 1 flash only. The flash duration of that unit is now your shutter speed for your exposure.. Not your actual shutter speed you have set in the camera. That shutter speed you have set in the camera now only controls how much ambient light is in the final image.
But if you are using a flash unit in TTL or ETTL mode you run the risk of the flash unit shooting a pulsed strobe (multiple flashes) instead of 1 single flash. When this happens you will get ghosting from the flash unit itself.

Now as they work together. If your shooting a subject and trying to blend your flash units with the ambient light. If the ambient light will not allow you a reasonably fast shutter speed your subjects will blur from the ambient light. So your options are either set your shutter speed in camera to 3 stops below ambient or more. Or you can use the blur in your image to tell the story of motion. Be it either first or second curtain sync.

Here is an example if we are shooting dancing like the OP started this thread out with. So lets say my ambient light of the room is 1/15 at F4 200 ISO. I set my strobes at F4. So as long as I leave my camera at F4 and 200 ISO then my strobes will fire and create the exposure no matter what I set my shutter speed at. Now my strobes are the shutter speed. The shutter speed in the camera will now only control how much ambient light I have in the final image.. But as we all know shooting at ambient light of 1/15 will give me blur.. It will blur because of the motion the camera picks up from the ambient light. If I set my shutter speed at 1/125 I am now 3 stops above ambient and I will no longer get any blur from the ambient light but I will get a much darker room. As the ambient will be almost gone.. This is where you need to play and find your style.. Some might like the darker ambient some may not..
You may be able to shoot at only 1 or 2 stops above ambient and be happy with the results. It all depends on what SS the ambient is at.

Hope this helps a little...




Nov 03, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Jeff_Stapleton
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p.1 #20 · Ideal shutter speed for low light dancing & general reception shots


one thing I don't understand is the party reception shots...with crazy motion blur and intense lighting. They look more like rave photos than photos of a reception.

I guess its just not my taste though. Obviously they are very popular types of images to take



Nov 07, 2012 at 03:53 AM





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