Shooting in nightclub

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by paul_sharratt, Jul 25, 2007.

  1. I may have an assignment to shoot in a trendy nightclub - employees, people at
    bar, dj's, people dancing, exterior at night (probably not the long lines...)
    and wanted peoples advice. Nikon D200 and SB-800. Bounce light off a card?
    Small soft box and use CLS? Direct on camera? I might even have an assistant
    to run around holding the flash while I shoot (handhold umbrella w/sb800)?
  2. 85/1.4 or 50/1.4 lens, ISO 800 or 1600 - depends of the lighting, no flash needed.

    If you must use a flash, use a setup of 2 remote flashes commanded by the built-in commander. If onl;y SB-800 in the camera shoe, then depends on the shooting distance, perhaps use of the Nikon Diffuser dome is needed. If the club is small and has good white walls or ceilings - you could use bouced light, but always pay attention to any under exposure value reported by the flash, and open the lens wider, or boost ISO.
  3. I tried the no flash with wide open aperture method. It doesn't work very well.

    Trendy clubs have many levels so you won't find a good ceiling to bounce off of.

    I haven't done this yet but from reading the blog that should not be named, I would give the assistant a soft box or umbrella and use radio triggers or a sync cord rather than CLS. Meter the ambient, under expose by a stop or 2, slow sync.
  4. Sam is right. I would add be sure to have a very wide lens. Wide-angle shots look very "club" like, plus they are practical when it comes to crowded spaces. Try using the flip-up card on the flash, with the flash pointed straight up. Don't worry about the ceiling. You are not trying to bounce off it, just trying to bounce some of the light forward. This is good for people a few feet to about 10 feet from the camera. 800 iso is good. 4.5 to 5.6 is good. Play with the shutter speed. I like the 18-70 kit lens for this kind of stuff. I also bring a 14mm Sigma I have for wider stuff. Most shots are in the 17-20mm range I would guess.

    After you get the hang of that, try having the assistant hold a flash with the Nikon dome on it behind the subjects or at inteseting angles to the on camera one. I like to have everything on manual. On camera main to manual, remote on manual. Play with the ratios. Have the assistant stay roughly the same distance from the camera when you are playing around.

    After an 1/2 hour or so you should have the hang of it and come up with some very clubbish looking shots.

    Don't forget to move your position, too. Shoot some with a very wide lens with the camera close to the ground, etc. Wide-angle distortion, motion blur, and hard directional lighting can look good in your situation.

    Main thing is to make sure you have some light, consistant frontal lighting if people are in the shot. It will over-power the colored club lights so the people don't look sickly, plus it will draw your attention to them more than the background.

    Sounds fun!
  5. Mostly good advice from Greg, except that having "the assistant stay roughly the same distance from the camera when you are playing around" won't matter that much... it's the flash's distance from the subject that is important for consistent exposure, which is hard to do in a club. <p> I've had best success with this technique by using a thyristor based flash on auto exposure for the remote, triggered by a Pocket Wizard. The flash's sensor sees what the flash sees, and does a pretty good job. As a back light, it's exposure isn't as critical, especially for the club scene. A slightly hot backlight looks "hot" especially on good hair and skin. CLS is a little potty under such extreme conditions as a dark nightclub with glaring hardlights (decor). Mount the remote flash on a monopod with a tilting umbrella adapter and have your assistant hold it high and positioned as Greg suggests. Be sure it is set to it's widest. <p> I use the on-camera flash on a bracket with the diffuser dome on TTL set for slight under exposure. <p> Be careful making shots from ground level that someone doesn't trip on you, you don't get kicked or stepped on, and you don't p__s someone off by making photos up a girls skirt... I prefer above my head for drama or waist level for dancing/body shots. Safer in many ways... t
  6. Thanks! From similar shots done at this club it looks like they are happy getting images that are straight "event" type shots - even light that looks like it was bounced from a card with the flash at an angle. I'm definitely going to drag the shutter and use rear curtain sync for some of mine to give more atmosphere and "club" look. I do distantly recall shooting punk rock bands in the early eighties (I know I'm suprised these folks even want to let me in the door!)with a 283 and opening up one stop from the colored thyristor setting - thanks for the recall prompt but now I'll spend most of the day trying to forget the punk rock scenes! I suppose for the overheads I can try to create a mosh-pit scene and just surf above the crowd. In all seriousness, this has been very useful and started the creative thoughts flowing.
  7. For simple one light work, I use a 400ws Lumedyne with their auto module, with a 9in round reflector with a scrim on it, either high on a bracket or hand held to one side. Here is a page of what I get... t
  8. Thanks Tom - your work is top notch. Shoot rescheduled for August...I'll post some results.

Share This Page