Shooting at a formal business event

Discussion in 'Beginner Questions' started by tidris, Sep 26, 2009.

  1. I have been asked to cover a formal business fairly academic event (Annual Lecture), indoor in a lecture theatre. I will have complete control of where I position myself and opportunities for any informal shots including backstage.
    I will be carrying a D200 (plus D70 backup) body. 18-70mm (f3.5-4), 50mm (f1.8), 35-80mm (f3.5) and a Metz 48 AF1n flashgun with a soft flash diffuser. I have never covered such an event. What have I forgotten? Also, are there any useful techniques I need to be aware of? Many thanks. Taha
  2. Extra chips, extra batteries--particularly for the flash. I don't know how your diffuser is working for you, but I find that larger diffusion surface=better diffusion and more natural lighting, and prefer working with an 8x10 bounce card.
  3. You're pretty well covered for equipment. The rest is up to technique.
    Be sure to practice your flash technique in advance, preferably in conditions simulating what you'll encounter at the event. Hotshoe flash at long range is tricky. Try to practice in a room with similar ceiling height, distance from walls, reflective surfaces, etc.
    Don't count on the flash diffuser being effective at long range. Beyond around 20 feet most hotshoe flash diffusers become less effective and serve only to steal light without any softening effect. You'd need a large, ungainly diffuser to be effective beyond around 20'.
    Red-eye can be a problem at longer distances. A diffuser won't help as much as distance between flash and lens. A bounce card can help by elevating the light source a few extra inches. A bracket can help but may not be absolutely necessary. Again, practice on someone in advance at distances you'd expect to encounter at the event.
    If the ambient light is adequate you can use flash just to lighten the shadows on faces and add catch lights to the eyes. Be sure you're familiar with the higher ISO noise levels of your dSLRs and how well flash works at those higher ISOs. I use a D2H and SB-800, so what works for me may not work for you. I'd probably shoot at ISO 400 (ISO 800 tops, and I'd plan on using noise reduction in post) with the flash on a bracket and flash head aimed straight forward, based on previous experience with this equipment in large auditoriums, convention halls, etc. Only you can determine what works best for your equipment by practicing well in advance.
  4. Charles and Lex,
    Many thanks for your substantive responses to my question. I suppose it's also a case of asking you guys to say good luck. The event is not until 14 October so I have time to get some practice done. I have ordered a large quantity of alkaline batteries as I find NimH don't seem to last long in the flash. Taha
  5. Many (most?) auditoriums are lit by standard tungsten lamps. If you supplement this ambient light with direct flash, the difference between the areas lit by the higher color temp flash and the areas lit by the lower color temp ambient light will be noticeable to anyone, and, IMHO, are unacceptable for a pro photographer. Basically, your images will have a snapshot-like quality with the closer objects in the scene being more blue, and the more distant objects, shadowed objects, sides of faces, etc. being quite orange-ish.
    To get around this, I suggest that you check out the ambient light in the auditorium and gel your flash to match it. You then correct for the overall color cast in your NEF converter (if you are shooting RAWs) or using your on-camera color temp adjustment control. I'm sure there have been many previous threads on gelling flashes in giving more detail on this technique, names of the suppliers of gels (eg, Roscoe, Gam, etc.), examples, etc.
    Tom M
    Washington, DC
    PS - Beware that the lights illuminating the speaker usually are at a higher color temp than those illuminating the remainder of the hall, and you will have to compensate for this.
  6. I had not thought of that at all. The auditorium is lit by high energy flourescent bars. This would mean putting a light blue gel on the flash, I suppose unless I get quite close in which case I will use the flash power alone to avoid colour casts. I will definitely be shooting raw plus jpeg.
  7. There are many different types of fluorescent lights, and each requires a somewhat different type of gel. In general, because of the Hg in all fluorescent lamps, they all emit a strong line in the green. Google something like {fluorescent "color correction" (gel OR filter) } and you will find tables of matching and corrective gels and filters. However be sure it is not a table of the complimentary colors (eg, a magenta filter to correct a green cast). Rather, you want to match the ambient light output. I seem to recall that Roscoe has tables of appropriate gels on their website.
    The bottom line, however, is that you should do tests in the hall ahead of the day of the ceremony. Use a stand-in at various places around the hall that you might be shooting (especially the on-stage locations)and make sure you nail this down b4 the day of the shoot. Undoubtedly you will have to make compromises in the color correction, but even doing a little cc is better than doing none and winding up with lime green backgrounds. :-(
    Tom M
    Washington, DC
  8. Thank you Tom. I am now on the lookout for the correct colour correction gel/filter.
  9. You're quite welcome. Good luck, and if possible, post an image or two after the event.
    BTW, another major advantage of gelling your flash is that doing so saves you enormous amounts of post-processing time and effort, should you decide that you just can't stand two-toned people. ;-)
    Tom M
    Washington, DC
  10. Thanks Tom. I managed to find the following item for a bargain £5.00:
    Pre-cut set of 12 genuine LEE Filters Gels for use with flash and strobe units.
    As featured in Strobist these gels provide a massive range of opportunities to create special effects with your flash or strobe.

    Manufactured by LEE Filters the world's leading manufacturer of lighting filter products this set contains 2 each of 5 different colour correction gels.
    • Lee 204 Full Colour Temperature Orange CTO (converts 6500K to 3200K) X2
    • Lee 205 1/2 Colour Temperature Orange CTO (converts 6500K to 3800K) X2
    • Lee 206 1/4 Colour Temperature Orange CTO (converts 6500K to 4600K) X2
    • Lee 247 Lee Minus Green (Used on lighting to eliminate unwanted green cast created by discharge light sources on film. Approximately equivalent to CC30 magenta camera filter) X2
    • Lee 201 Full C.T. Blue (converts 3200K to 5700K) X2
    • Lee 202 1/2 C.T. Blue (converts 3200K to 4300K) X2
  11. Hi Taha - That's a great set of gels to start with, especially at that price, but I don't see any gel on the list that could be used to match the output of fluorescent lights (ie, a greenish or greenish blue gel).
  12. PS - Put differently, of course, you could put "minus green" gels on every single fluorescent light in the auditorium to convert their output into something resembling sunlight, but wouldn't it be easier and less costly to put a single plus green on your flash and then correct the uniformly greenish cast of everything at once, in post processing?
    In fact, the first approach is the only approach possible if you have to deal with more than two sources, each of which has it's own color, eg, fluorescents, tungsten and daylight sources, and is commonly used in major photo / video shoots, but for what you are doing, hopefully, the second approach will be adequate.
  13. Darn it. I misunderstood the significance of minus green - I thought I could use that. Anyway, back to basics and a search again of the green or blue/green gels available.
  14. Okay I have now bought the Lee 244, 245 and 246 plus green, 1/2 green and 1/4 green gels which I think will suffice as they are intended for the purposes that Tom has so patiently tried to guide me to understand. Thank you to all of you.
  15. About something else: you don't obviously aren't afraid of carrying stuff around, but is the 35-80mm (f3.5) really necessary when you already have a 18-70mm (f3.5-4) ? Unless its picture quality is noticeably better it seems unnecessary to me. Or is it a backup ? -)
    Try changing zoom only when you know you're gonna be on a close/distant spot for a long time... Changing the lens too often makes you slow and miss opportunities. I'd keep the 18-70 when moving around and mount the 35-80 only when i know i'm gonna be in the back for a while.
    Good luck !
  16. About something else: you obviously aren't afraid of carrying stuff around, but is the 35-80mm (f3.5) really necessary when you already have a 18-70mm (f3.5-4) ? Unless its picture quality is noticeably better it seems unnecessary to me. Or is it a backup ? -)
    Try changing zoom only when you know you're gonna be on a close/distant spot for a long time... Changing the lens too often makes you slow and miss opportunities. I'd keep the 18-70 on when moving around, mount the 35-80 only when i know i'm gonna be in the back for a while, and revert to the 18-70 as soon as i leave my rear spot, while walking frontward...
    Good luck !
  17. Hi Fred, the 35-80 is there as a backup permanently mounted on the backup D70. I will also be carrying a backup flash which I will leave in the car but its good advice from you. I do find the 18-70 of not a bad quality and it is wider than the 35-80 particularly on a 1.5 crop. I may even mount the 35-80 on a tripod ready to go on to if I should have to. Looking at the hall I probably would bge using the zoom in the 50-70 area most of the time anyway.

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