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Low lighting event shoot
  
 
amandagillen
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Low lighting event shoot


I was asked to photograph a dinner event for a friend's business tomorrow nt. I usually shoot sports and natural light portraits. I've shot football and baseball games at nt but still, theres quite a bit of light on the fields. I just looked up restaurant and it is a smaller venue with VERY low light. I shoot with a Nikon D750 and I do own (but don't really use) a Nikon speedlight SB-500 flash. Can anyone give me pointers on getting successful pictures? I hate to disappoint but Im kinda out of my league on this one ; /
I shoot raw and I did get a color checker passport to help with coloring and white balance. Please help!



Oct 24, 2016 at 06:18 PM
BSPhotog
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Low lighting event shoot


What are you using for lenses? If the ceiling isn't absurdly tall or oddly colored, it might be best to set your flash to straight up or a bit back or to one side (play with it in the space) in TTL mode. Set the flash compensation from the body to -1.7 or a little lower so that you keep some room ambiance. You probably won't need the the AF assist light with the D750, though it might be best to stick to the center AF point when you can. Other thoughts would be to try and keep your DOF reasonable and drag your shutter out some to bring in light from the room. A couple of off camera lights would be ideal, but depending upon the event that might not be feasible.


Oct 24, 2016 at 07:09 PM
Paul_K
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Low lighting event shoot


If circumstances force me to use flash ( like the OP I also much more prefer to shoot with the available light if possible) I have a very simple approach.

Both with my SB800's and SB910 (and in the past SB600's) I shoot in the flash in B-TTL mode, and the camera in Matrix Metering mode.

If I use a flash on camera (usually in close up situations like eg during the reception of a wedding) I use it with an Omnibounce and tilt the head in a 45 degree upward tilt, no matter whether the ceiling is high of low
In my experience with the head in a 45 degree upward tilt the Omnibounce will still generate enough 'forward' flash to generate sufficient, somewhat diffused - compared to 'bare' flash' - light
If some light is bounced from the ceiling (and that doesn't have some funny color that may give an unwanted color cast - which fortunately hardly ever is the case) that's an extra

If I use the speedlights of camera (usually with catwalk), I aim them directly on the subjects.
Considering the distance between the speedlights and the subject, they will register as point lights anyway, and using a (large) diffuser will (apart from loss of GN, and consequently slower recycle times, faster depleted batteries, and possible overheating/melting) add nothing extra

For the rest I keep my camera's settings unchanged (AF-C, 51 AF points, one AF point selected manually as the starting point for focusing)

Never used the AF assist light of the flash, nor from the camera, always find/found it much too distracting for the subject who are/were being photographed.
Also because I found that in my experience, dating back to my F90 film shooting days, the AF of my Nikons will still work even under quite low light
Only time I ran into problems with my AF was with my DF under low contrast virtually no light conditions, where even with a 1.4 lens at 1/60th I had to use ISO 25600

I use the flash in B-TTL mode to prevent the 'flashed out subject against a black background/deer in the headlights' look.
And based on what I see on the LCD, and in the histogram fine tune the output of the speedlight(s) with either the Flash Compensation button on the camera, or the AC3 (in case I use the flashes off camera with my PW TT5's

To further that (prevent the flashed out look) I also shoot at a high ISO ( my D3/D800/DF will still give excellent IQ at ISO 1000), while not closing the lens down too much, nor upping the shutter speed too much (the latter kind of depends on the lens I use, with a short lens I can use a longer speed then with a telelens) to also allow the available light to register/play a role in the picture.

To prevent getting a, due to the use of high ISO, yellow/orange picture (as a result of mixing the camera 5500K WB for the flash, with the available light WB at 3200K)
I have a simple solution.

On the SB910 I just attach the hard plastic amber/orange color correction filter that comes with it (the SB800 used to standard come gel filters, but having lost those I use small pieces of Lee filters) which will change the WB of the flash to 3200/3400K,basically the same as, or at least close to, the WB of the available light.

I then change the camera's WB to 3400K as well, and now I have the WB of the flash and available light more or less in balance, while being able to get/mix a lot of available light in the pictures without getting a 'yellow' picture

E.g. works out like this





D800 2.8/70-200 VRII at 150mm 1/250s f/5.6 iso2500
2 SB800's of camera (on a lightstand) with PW/TT5's
(taken at this catwalk show http://www.pbase.com/paul_k/20160403_max_h_jhm )

but works just as fine when shooting events (like corporate, or wedding)



Oct 24, 2016 at 10:59 PM
kaplah
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Low lighting event shoot


amandagillen wrote:
Can anyone give me pointers on getting successful pictures? I hate to disappoint but Im kinda out of my league on this one ; /


1) go to the venue in advance and practice. Do not practice during the event. If you are in fact out of your league, and the images matter to your business friend, tell him/her that you want the evening to be a success, withdraw, and point them at a local photographer who has experience with events.

2) read Niel VN's stuff on bounce (link below is a start, he has more) and get a more-powerful flash - I think the SB500 is underpowered, and you can't zoom the head, which cuts effective power even more and makes it harder to shape the light. I think that the SB-700 is the starting point for power.

http://neilvn.com/tangents/tutorial-bounce-flash-photography/





Oct 24, 2016 at 11:33 PM
Two23
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Low lighting event shoot


kaplah wrote:
1) go to the venue in advance and practice. Do not practice during the event.

2) read Niel VN's stuff on bounce (link below is a start, he has more) and get a more-powerful flash - I think the SB500 is underpowered, and you can't zoom the head, which cuts effective power even more and makes it harder to shape the light. I think that the SB-700 is the starting point for power.



Agree with both points. I routinely go to a place a day ahead of time, when the light will be the same, to see what I'm dealing with. Keep in mind that I'm fairly experienced and still do this. I would try to use flash, bounced off ceiling if it is NEUTRAL colored (which I would find out the day before), and would use a Lumiquest 80/20. If I didn't use the 80/20 I'd at least use a white bounce card (SB-900 flash have one built in.) I also agree the little SB-500 is probably going to let you down. You are probably going to need some pow-pow-power here! The little SB-500 was not made for this sort of thing. As a last ditch, I'd use something like a 35mm f1.4 plus 85mm f1.4 and ISO dialed up , a Gary Fong or other modifier on the flash. Keep in mind that f1.4 is a two edged sword. On the one hand it copes with low light better and helps to separate a single person from the background. On the other hand if shooting more than one person it's likely that one face will be sharp and the other(s) not. I would remind the person in charge that you are not a pro and you don't really have the important gear for this (flash, lens.) You might read up on slow sync while you're at it, and practice at the location with a "model" to see if this is going to work there.


Kent in SD




Oct 24, 2016 at 11:48 PM
Two23
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Low lighting event shoot


Paul_K wrote:
To prevent getting a, due to the use of high ISO, yellow/orange picture (as a result of mixing the camera 5500K WB for the flash, with the available light WB at 3200K)



Proper use of the X-Rite Color Checker should prevent that. Since the lighting should be consistent there, once you've taken a test shot with the card, you should be good for the rest of the night unless the light changes (i.e. some shots flash, some not.)


Kent in SD




Oct 24, 2016 at 11:54 PM
amandagillen
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Low lighting event shoot


The dinner is tomorrow nt..... The professional photogs wanted 500$ per hour and his budget wasn't anywhere near that so he asked me; knowing Im clearly not as experienced. All of their other pics from events were taken with cell phones. I have a D750, 50mm 1.8, 70-200 2.8 are the 2 lenses I use most of the time. I have the 24-120 VR 4 that I got with the D750 but I just don't love that lens. The oNLY flash I have is the SB-500 and Ive never really had to use it with the pics I take.
This venue is SO tiny! The ceiling is DARK BROWN and pretty high. The walls are older pinkish and white brick. They have lots of cool lighting in there bc its a wedding venue but still.... https://goo.gl/images/dCxiuG look here for a pic of the place. Ive been there. The bar is all lit up in BRIGHT blue at nt. https://goo.gl/images/TrL5IM
The CEO of this company is a dear friend. I DONT wanna disappoint yet he couldn't afford a "real" photographer either...and I will be better than his cell phone. Man, I just don't wanna screw this up. Its pretty far outta my league and Im just now to the point where I set up a biz and am taking payment. They want pics of the speakers, candid shots of people eating at the table- just little group shots. They used to rent photo booth for pics. You think the 50mm 1.8 will be too big? The 24-120 is only 4....I know the 50 and 70-200 like the back of my hand. I usually spot meter but you think I should matrix in a situation like this?



Oct 25, 2016 at 02:05 AM
BSPhotog
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Low lighting event shoot


In a small space, the 50MM would be tight for some shots. Are there any camera shops in town that you can rent a lens from? Something like the 28mm f/1.8g would be great for getting more context. If not, then keep the 24-120 handy. If you're at like ISO 1600 f/2 1/125, then f/4 puts you at ISO 6400, which should be alright on the D750.

I'm not familiar with the SB500 to really have a handle on the power and/or limits, but for a small space it should be effective for people in close. You have a little time yet, so it might not hurt to try your hand at constructing some kind of a bounce card to soften the light up. Lots of DIY stuff out there online. Oh yeah, make sure you have good AAs and plenty of extras. Looks like the SB500 only uses 2 at a time, so it may chew through them pretty quick.

Try to avoid having any faces lit by the blue bar lights. It is okay as a back light maybe some accent, but blue lights on skin are a pain in the ass for post production.

If you haven't been briefed already, find out specifically what the intended use for the photos is and what their priorities are for shots. This can be a good way to get out of your head with worrying and concentrate on using your existing skills to deliver what they really want/need.



Oct 25, 2016 at 02:26 AM
Two23
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Low lighting event shoot


amandagillen wrote:
1. The dinner is tomorrow nt.....

2, . I have a D750, 50mm 1.8, 70-200 2.8 are the 2 lenses I use most of the time. I have the 24-120 VR 4 that I got with the D750 but I just don't love that lens

3. . The oNLY flash I have is the SB-500 and Ive never really had to use it with the pics

4. The ceiling is DARK BROWN and pretty high. The walls are older pinkish and white brick.

5. The CEO of this company is a dear friend. I DONT wanna disappoint yet he couldn't afford
...Show more


1. You are SCROOOWED! Should have been on this a week ago.

2.. The 70-200mm will be worthless in that small space. The 50mm is mostly going to be too long. The 24-120 f4 really isn't up to the job if the light is really low, but you better learn to love it fast! It's your only choice.

3. Buy a big floppy coffee filter and rubber band it around the flash head. Try to make it big and "poofy." It will soften the harshness of the flash. (Wax paper sheet might work too.) Check at home to see how much light this eats up.

4. You are SCROOWED! The X-Rite Color Checker can potentially save you ass if you know how to use it. Make sure you are shooting in NEF here! There will be some bounce from a white wall. Use it as a reflector when you can.

5. Let's hope he has a sense of humor. You should have a chance of coming out OK if your competition is cell phones, but those things are getting more sophisticated.

6. Candid shots will mostly call for 24mm-120 at the wide end. Up your ISO as high as you dare to increase shutter speed. Don't forget that with f4 you have less DoF so be very careful where you place focus point. Do not use flash with people who are at varying distances from you--the closest ones will over expose and the distant people will be dark. Flash for speakers, yes. Also for speakers I'd go with the 50mm f1.8, try shooting f2.8 or so with it. I'd turn off the focus assist beam on the speakers--camera should focus OK without it using an f1.8 lens. Test at home! The speakers will be the easiest part, but try to catch them between movements. I predict you will use the 24-120mm f4 80% of the time, the 50mm the rest of the time. You are very limited with lenses. If you know of anyone with something wide & fast (24-70mm f2.8, 28mm f1.8, etc.) I'd be making some fast phone calls. Otherwise, watch your shutter speed, catch people when they aren't moving, watch your histogram, put in two memory cards and set them to "NEF, duplicate." Charge your battery now (put your camera next to the charger so you don't forget the battery) and bring extra battery, extra memory cards just in case. I'll predict you will shoot less than 500 shots, probably more like 200.

7. Spot meter will be useless. Go with matrix. You need to have the camera set up for bang-bang shooting. Don't be messing with the camera and missing fast breaking shots. Color casts will be horrible so take several "color checks" with the X-Rite. Be sure to take a few with flash and a few without. I assume that while the light will awful it will mostly be pretty even? If so, you have a chance.



Kent in SD


Edited on Oct 25, 2016 at 02:44 AM · View previous versions



Oct 25, 2016 at 02:40 AM
snapsy
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Low lighting event shoot


amandagillen wrote:
The dinner is tomorrow nt..... The professional photogs wanted 500$ per hour and his budget wasn't anywhere near that so he asked me; knowing Im clearly not as experienced. All of their other pics from events were taken with cell phones. I have a D750, 50mm 1.8, 70-200 2.8 are the 2 lenses I use most of the time. I have the 24-120 VR 4 that I got with the D750 but I just don't love that lens. The oNLY flash I have is the SB-500 and Ive never really had to use it with the pics I take.
This venue
...Show more

You'll want the 24-120..although it's slower than your 50mm you'll likely be having to stop down anyway to get sufficient DOF in the close quarters you'll be shooting (and because with multiple people you'll need extra DOF since they wont be standing perfectly parallel to each other). Since the roof is dark and high ideally you'll want to set up remotely-triggered off camera flashes around the perimeter of the meeting area to have adequate coverage and decent diffusion. Since you only have the one flash I would set still set it on a high stand off-camera and remotely trigger it with the onboard flash of your D750.



Oct 25, 2016 at 02:41 AM
 

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Two23
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Low lighting event shoot


Did not realize the SB-500 can be used off camera. Practice at home first! For the speakers, it would look better if the flash was off the camera by a couple of feet. Set the flash a bit above eye level if you can so shadows will fall behind. (Making sure you can make it fire reliably and know how to switch it to remote mode and back OK.) This will prevent the dreaded "red eye". You could use an "HLS" here (human light stand--someone holds & points the flash,) or duct tape it securely to a smooth wall (paneling, painted brick etc.) with your home made modifier on it. Check the LCD to make sure enough light is getting to your speaker. I would bring 6 fully charged AA batteries for the flash.


Kent in SD



Oct 25, 2016 at 02:53 AM
mphocus
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Low lighting event shoot


Remember the iron curtain at Shutter 250. It will kill you every time. Other than that you are good


Oct 25, 2016 at 02:57 AM
kaplah
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Low lighting event shoot


amandagillen wrote:
1-The professional photogs wanted 500$ per hour

2- I have a D750, 50mm 1.8, 70-200 2.8 are the 2 lenses I use most of the time. I have the 24-120 VR 4 that I got with the D750 but I just don't love that lens. The oNLY flash I have is the SB-500 and Ive never really had to use it with the pics I take.
3 -This venue is SO tiny! The ceiling is DARK BROWN and pretty high. The walls are older pinkish and white brick. They have lots of cool lighting in bc its a wedding venue but still....
...Show more

I'll pile on.

1) wow. I should move to Knoxville.

2) For you, I'm going to suggest the 24-120 for walkaround. At f/4, you can do one or two people with adequate dof. Stop-down for groups (try 5.6). Build a bounce card, which you can do with a piece of white paper and some gaffer tape or an elastic band, and that's all you have time for. Use the 70-200 for the speakers, natural light (because you aren't setup for off-camera flash, and now is not the time to learn how), at 2.8, ideally with a tripod (it gets heavy). The reach gets you to the back of the crowd, not disturbing their view. You want to be invisible when capturing speakers.

3) cool for the attendees, nasty for you. That high, warm brown ceiling will completely eat your SB-500. Hence try a bounce card for the walk-arounds.

4) I hate to say this, but I would not, in your shoes, charge for this gig. It's a training experience, and you don't want financial liability. And yeah, they all can't afford a "real" photographer, which doesn't mean you should say "yes", but that ship has sailed, so do your best.

5) see 4)

6) see 2) and 3). Also, many people dislike being photographed when eating, so use some sensitivity and if you do it, take multiple shots so that at least one will be okay (not chewing, food half-in-half-out). And you can use the 70-200 at f/2.8, at a distance on a tripod, for candid table shots with natural light.

7) for the speaker shots: manual for consistency, spot-metered on the first speaker's face - better yet, use a light meter. The speaker's face is the subject, so don't worry about any other part of the scene. Get a color checker shot before or after.
For the walk-arounds, manual about 1 stop underexposed, let the flash / bouncecard do its job with TTL, and get one color checker shot using a volunteer to hold the thing for you, or just set it on a chair or bench. Remember to use FV Lock as required: https://nikonclspracticalguide.blogspot.ca/2008/01/4-so-what-is-flash-value-lock.html

Use your people skills to interact with the crowd, ensure that you are constantly alert for great moments (use your ears to hear conversational moments that might be picture-worthy), and take lots of spare batteries for your camera and flash.

Good luck.



Oct 25, 2016 at 03:24 AM
kaplah
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Low lighting event shoot


PS: all this talk of off-camera strikes me as, at this late hour - literally a day before an event - completely impossible for someone who has not done it before.


Oct 25, 2016 at 03:27 AM
sonofjesse2010
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Low lighting event shoot


Borrow a 35mm 1.4......the 1.4 and D750 can shoot in very dark conditions.


Oct 25, 2016 at 03:40 AM
snapsy
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Low lighting event shoot


kaplah wrote:
PS: all this talk of off-camera strikes me as, at this late hour - literally a day before an event - completely impossible for someone who has not done it before.


An hour of practice and the OP would be competent enough to produce usable photos. iTTL is rather clever and forgiving.



Oct 25, 2016 at 04:08 AM
amandagillen
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Low lighting event shoot


Two23 wrote:
1. You are SCROOOWED! Should have been on this a week ago.

2.. The 70-200mm will be worthless in that small space. The 50mm is mostly going to be too long. The 24-120 f4 really isn't up to the job if the light is really low, but you better learn to love it fast! It's your only choice.

3. Buy a big floppy coffee filter and rubber band it around the flash head. Try to make it big and "poofy." It will soften the harshness of the flash. (Wax paper sheet might work too.) Check at home to see how much
...Show more

Well, this was helpful for someone who can't sleep.....I was just hired for this 3 day long project (the majority is in office buildings during the day and I will be totally fine w that) on Sunday and JUST got the specs on the evening ordeal this morning. I have spent the entire day learning what to do, meeting with my professional store for advice, and of course asking y'all bc quite frankly y'all give WAY better advice than ANY other forum Im on.
I can rent one of their wider, fast lenses if y'all think that would be beneficial. They have plenty of options. Which would you recommend in this situation? Im worried the 24-120 isn't really fast enough? I don't have much expert w it. So is taking the 70-200 pointless for this event?



Oct 25, 2016 at 04:15 AM
amandagillen
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Low lighting event shoot


kaplah wrote:
PS: all this talk of off-camera strikes me as, at this late hour - literally a day before an event - completely impossible for someone who has not done it before.


you are correct. I am not prepared to do off camera flash. When I said I would do the three day event I was under the impression that it was all in their office during the day. I learned this morning about the dinner and when they told me the venue I almost died- that place is SO DARK and tiny!! I will be there for just 2 hours. Lord help me. Praying my shooting in raw and good focus techniques pay off.



Oct 25, 2016 at 04:22 AM
amandagillen
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Low lighting event shoot


so tell me; if my 50mm 1.8, 70-200 and 24-120 4 aren't ideal; what IS ideal so that I can go rent it tomorrow morning? And how do I go about making a bounce card for my flash? I know some bigger flashes come w them that just slide out....mine doesn't.


Oct 25, 2016 at 04:26 AM
j-photo
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Low lighting event shoot


Make a bounce card for the flash. Angle the flash head at about 60 degrees from horizontal.

Use your f/4 zoom. Any larger aperture and too much will be out of focus.

1/125 sec, f/4 for groups of two, smaller aperture for larger groups where more depth of field is needed.

Try iso 2000 for starters. This will give you a balance of ambient light and light from the flash. The higher the iso, the less work the flash has to do, meaning it will recycle faster and batteries will last longer. To reduce the ambient light contribution, and make the flash work harder, reduce iso. To increase the ambient light contribution, and make the flash work less, raise iso.

Set flash to TTL-BL. If you have gels, you can warm up the flash so it balances better with the ambient light. If not, don't worry about it.

Shoot RAW. Set your picture control to neutral. On the back of camera monitor, watch red channel highlights. If they are blowing out significantly, add negative flash compensation.

Expect to stay close to your subjects. It's a low-power flash, so don't expect to work miracles.



Oct 25, 2016 at 04:31 AM
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