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| p.2 #6 · p.2 #6 · How to prevent ghosting with slow shutter speeds?? || |
I haven't seen your photos, so I'm speculating -- but probably not far off -- from what I've read in this discussion.
Your simplest and most basic problem was that you needed a lot more light (ambient, or carefully-placed by you), or you needed a much higher ISO. Instead of 0.8s f/8 ISO 250, you'd have gotten much better results with (for example) 1/60 f/4 ISO 3200. With proper flash exposure on your subject, and ideally a colored gel on your flash to make its color match the ambient a little better, I think you'd have been much happier. You could also have placed a second flash somewhere, aimed at a wall or ceiling, just to add some overall light to the scene and allow you an even faster shutter speed or a smaller aperture.
Let me also add a little practical advice on how I'd approach a situation like this.
First, I know that Nikon's Auto ISO is very reliable and effective in all situations... except when flash is used. So I'd first turn my flashes off, turn Auto ISO on, set Shutter priority to 1/200 for nice crisp people, use whatever aperture I wanted (say, f/8 in your case), make sure I'm shooting RAW so I can get cleaner images and adjust WB later without penalty... then take a test shot. That test shot will tell me what ISO the camera recommends. In your situation, that would likely have been ISO 6400 or so.
Now that I know just how dark it is out there, I would choose an ISO and set it manually. For your 5D2, I would have probably set it at 3200 initially. Now take that second flash I mentioned earlier, pick a spot for it and set its power manually (probably at 1/4 power initially), and set it to be triggered optically (it'll fire when it sees another flash go off). Take a second test shot, which is now probably too bright. Adjust your ISO and the manual flash power until you get a look you like for the scene.
The first time you do this, you may need longer; but with a little practice, it'll all take less than 5 minutes. Finally, I'd put my camera on manual with my chosen shutter, aperture, and ISO settings, but leave my on-camera flash on TTL with a -0.3 or -0.7 FEC to make its influence more subtle. Now, fire away.
The approach above is simple and will not yield perfect results... but it should be pretty good and pretty reliable. A good diffuser for your on-camera flash should be a big help, the colored gels for the flashes are a huge help, and more flashes or lights would have been a godsend to you.
But remember, sacrifices and compromises are inevitable. Making your sacrifices and compromises wisely will do wonders for your images. For example: noisy and grainy is better than blurry: use whatever ISO you have to use to get a reasonably sharp shot. Also, shallower DOF (say, where the Christmas tree in the background is slightly to reasonably blurred) is better than a blurry child... and might even make your image look better. Think about each variable. Take what you can, give where it makes most sense.