specific question group of 14 indoors

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by kelly_buechlein|1, Nov 25, 2011.

  1. Background: I have sekonic 358, pocketwizards TT1/TT5, 430 canon flash and a studio max monolight with one light stand, umbrella with black and white cover.
    I am new to lighting. I understand how to use the meter to check ambient light and then check flash to see percentage flash is putting out. So, enough I guess to be dangerous lol.
    So, I have a group of 14 (about 6 kids) that will take place in basement (has a larger window per client) tan walls. The picture will be in front of fireplace. So, my question is how do I keep shadows off of faces. I plan on putting them up against fireplace, so that I am guessing will help with background shadows? I will be using a 35mm lense for this shoot since I am not sure how much space I will have?
    So, should I just put the mono center and a few feet above tallest person in the back with light slightly tilted down? I can keep my flash on camera as well with a gary fong difusser and have it pointing up as well and maybe reduce its power if needed?
    Should I take ambient readings and then add the above and check meter to see the percentage? and keep checking until I have how much like 50%, 60% for this size of group. I am just worried about shadows as well as overexposing?
    With the fireplace I am sure there is a place to sit people in front, but how would I then position the middle. Meaning if you have people sitting in the the middle- the sides I guess could be kneeling and then kids sitting on floor in front? My point being you cant have people standing in the middle because the fireplace stoop/bench in-front going across the fireplace. Or do I have people stand in front of the fireplace not using the the fireplace seat and the have some sitting on stools across center and then people could stand in back and then layer people in front. etc.
    So two part question.
    1. how to light 14 people with my equipment?
    2. How to stage in front of fireplace if it has an existing concrete hearth or whatever its called going across?
     
  2. oh and should I shoot in manual and the flash will be on manual to utilize the pocketwizards with my sekonic. I just realized by doing the percentages my aperture will bounce around? So, I prob need to make sure that I stay around f11 to get a group of 14 prob 2 deep maybe 3 in focus correct.
    So, I would have to make sure the meter was on aperture priority, but with flash thats going to be hard right?
     
  3. In a basement, with probably low ceilings, so I wouldn't have anyone standing. Two rows of seven; half sitting on the hearth, (if it's wide enough) the others cross legged on floor in front. That way you can put your monolight up as high as it will go, tilted down, slightly off center to one side of camera tripod. Use your speed light, off camera, on the other side of center, probably on it's widest setting.
    What camera are you using?
     
  4. Canon T2i for now. saving for Mark. Never thought about ceiling. This is a HUGE home so I am guessing they will have at least 10 ft ceiling in basement, but will try the above seating first. I told client indoor groups are not my experience, but she said they just want a basic snapshot which not sure if I should be scared of that answer or glad lol. I am hoping the weather holds out and if possible I will get them outside as well, so I have another option to work with.
     
  5. Camera should be in 100% manual mode so you set the aperture, shutter speed and iso.
    You should also set the flash power and have the flashes/strobe in manual mode.
    There are several ways to control the output on the canon flash. I think setting the flash in manual (on the flash) and dialing in the flash power (on the flash) is the least complicated way.
    When you fire the camera the TT1 transmitter will fire the TT5 transceiver and your canon flash will go off. Your studio strobe will detect the canon flash and also fire.
    How to light it depends on
    1) what the scene looks like
    2) how you want your image to look.
    How to meter with the light meter and get your settings right depends on how you light it. Without knowing 1 & 2 there is now way of telling how to meter.
     
  6. oh, from what I have researched that a aperture of F5.6 or above will keep everyone focused with flash? MY experiences are with kids, maybe 4 o 5. I am sure my meter will give me a higher aperture once I am testing, but not sure what to do if it goes lower. Last resort I will ditch the meter and chimp I guess.
     
  7. Hi Pete,
    I shoot in manual mode for all equipment. I cant use the meter to check flash otherwise. Yes, my meter will tell me how much percentage of flash vs ambient light. I didnt know if 50% or higher was a good number to aim for? If its too dark I will read 100% I am guessing.
    Yes, my mono has a slave which will be triggered by my canon flash.
     
  8. My goal is to get a well exposed, no major shadows on anyone and good focus. If I can get that that will be good. They just want a shot with all family members together. Nothing high fashion or drama.
     
  9. Don't bet on high ceilings in a basement. Custom homes may have 8 ft ceilings, the rest will have 7 ft ceilings.
     
  10. Seems that you are pre-occupied too much with the Sekonic meter, and percentage values.
    You do not tell anything about ambient lighting in the basement, or energy of your monoblock, so is not easy to commint for you to any percentage value.
    How will you deal with mixed lighting and matching color of the lights?.
    You could possibly get good exposure with flash lighting alone.
     
  11. If you go to www.dofmaster.com and put in the details of your gear you may find that even at f/5.6 you have plenty of depth of field if you are as I expect between 10 and 15 feet from the group ... but I was guessing at the focal length of your WA lens, and the camera-to-subject distance with my inputs. Focusing on the front row seemed to give plenty of DoF to have the backrow sharp as well.
     
  12. Thanks everyone, yes Frank I may be too pre-occupied with it lol. I have had it for a year and since I am trying to learn more about OCF I want to use it. I watched hours of tutorials on Sekonics site and they showed using it outside and going with percentage. However, during an outside shoot this afternoon I ditched that whole percentage idea lol. I used the meter for ambient and then added some flash at 1/8 or whatever seem to add just a little fill to the picture when I viewed. Just quick download of the pictures and nothing is overexposed and seem pretty decent. There were a few where I had them standing in front of a brick wall where there were shadows behind the the 2 center people (family of 4), but moved the light center and that took care of it.
    The home is huge. I went there a few weeks ago for a birthday party my daughter was invited too. The basement was huge, however, I didnt pay attention to height at the time, but I am sure they are higher than 8 ft. Mine is a poured basement with 10 ft. I considered the house I am going too a mansion lol. Anyways, they have 2 fireplaces in 2 different rooms downstairs. She said the room we will be in has tan walls with large window. So, if thats the case I will not turn on any lights and measure the ambient and then add flash. Is that a good plan? I am not sure if I am going to take my mono. I have not used it and feel more comfortable with my flash, so I am hoping it will be enough to cover 14 people. I tried using a shoot through umbrella outside today, but lost too much light, so went back to the gary fong diffuser. I thought the umbrella would spread more light?
     
  13. I tried using a shoot through umbrella outside today, but lost too much light, so went back to the gary fong diffuser. I thought the umbrella would spread more light?​
    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I might suggest learning lighting. I personally don't know why anyone would use a GFLS outdoors? It is a bounce diffuser. An umbrella can be useful outside... but I am not sure what you mean be "spread the light more"? Some shoe mount flashes have a wide angle diffuser that folds down over the flash that will give you wider coverage. An umbrella is usually used to soften light. You have learned the hard way that shooting through an umbrella isn't ideal outside. It isn't as though all of the light magically passes through the umbrella, a great deal of it is reflected away from your subject. In general, and especially outside with a weak flash, you want to use a reflective umbrella. The shoot through technique is generally used to put a softer light on the subject. Light modifiers are useful when you know why and how you want to modify the light!
     
  14. Kelly, it seems you are making this too complicated, especially when shooting 14 people including 6 kids.
    A simple solution would be to place the key light strobe on the opposite side of the prevailing ambient from any window, and fire it off the ceiling centered over the subjects (providing the ceiling is white or a lighter neutral color, which they usually are in a home) ... this will spread the light wider and drop any shadows down behind the subjects. You may have to adjust the distance to get the right bounce angle and spread. Just check the LCD. Having the strobe set to either the right side or left side of the camera position will create a directional quality even bounced off of a ceiling.
    Put the Canon flash in the hot-shoe and set it to TTL to provide fill. Forget about the Pocket Wizards, just set the strobe to fire using the optical trigger and the Canon flash will fire it in sync.
    Simple-dimple, and it works every time.
     
  15. Put the Canon flash in the hot-shoe and set it to TTL to provide fill. Forget about the Pocket Wizards, just set the strobe to fire using the optical trigger and the Canon flash will fire it in sync.​
    Provided the strobe has a setting that ignores the first flash (and assuming the strobe has an optical slave), otherwise the TTL pre-flash will fire the strobe out-of-sync when the pre-flash fires. This can be overcome simply by using the hot shoe flash in the manual flash mode where there is no TTL pre-flash.
     
  16. " I personally don't know why anyone would use a GFLS outdoors? It is a bounce diffuser. An umbrella can be useful outside... "
    John, Gary Fong shows how to use it outside. Instead of using the flash directly into my family face yesterday I had it off camera high angled down towards the family for fill. Here is link where he discusses using it outdoors.
    https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=107377938299​
     
  17. Thanks Marc, I am reading too much information and trying to learn too quickly. I have been at this for 1 1/2 years, but realize how important adding lighting is. I prob need to slow down I guess. For today, I will try to keep it basic. I actually have more experience with my flash as compared to the studiomax 320 mono (which has a slave). I will play with it here at home and just use TTL. Would you still meter for ambient with the sekonic and then let the flash do the rest? However, I will have to figure out the output on the mono as its manual? I guess if the flash on TTL isnt quite bright enough, I would just start on low power on mono. I may just ditch the mono..
    As I was typing:
    Well, great news they called and the father wants the picture outside. Today in Indiana its about 58 but cloudy, so that is great! The wind will be the issue, so I told them we needed a wall or something which would help with that. They have a big brick home, so finding a good side shouldnt be an issue. I will just measure ambient and add some flash if needed. May review my Off Camera Flash book by Neil Van Niekerk.
    But,I will also take everything incase it rains!! Then we will be inside!!
     
  18. John, Gary Fong shows how to use it outside.​
    Sure he does, he wants to sell you a Lightsphere. I watched the video and I hope you aren't putting too much stock into what he is saying. I will admit, he is getting clever! He isn't jumping up and down anymore telling you how soft the light it is (because outside a bounce diffuser won't soften the light). He is telling us that by using it you are reducing contrast. Sure. Anything that scatters the light rays will act as a diffuser... such as a $20 Stofen diffuser. Problem with the GFLS is that is chews up too much power and most of the light is wasted elsewhere, rather like using the shoot through umbrella. Neil's book and website are quite informative... and Neil isn't using a GFLS!
    Would you still meter for ambient with the sekonic and then let the flash do the rest?​
    I doubt it. It would have to be really nice light indoors for me to use it. Otherwise I am simply mixing light sources and risk having two different color temperatures in the shot. And in a case like this, I doubt I would use TTL on the shoe mount flash. Using manual will be much more consistent.
     
  19. The shoot ended up being outside which was fine. Kinda windy, but things turned out okay.
     
  20. I doubt it. It would have to be really nice light indoors for me to use it. Otherwise I am simply mixing light sources and risk having two different color temperatures in the shot. And in a case like this, I doubt I would use TTL on the shoe mount flash. Using manual will be much more consistent.
    John, can you give an example of the above? So, if you were indoors at a home for example you wouldnt use a meter, therefore, you are using camera meter to determine exposure? I normally use in camera, but from research its shows the Sekonic meter will give me more accurate exposure, so I thought I should get used to using it?
     
  21. Kelly, I'm pretty certain that John talks about not using the ambient light (in combination with flash). Not the use of the meter.
    You can usually cut out the ambient light indoors by using a fast shutter speed like 1/250s (if your camera can flash sync to this speed). So that way the shot will only be lit by flash.
    Using the meter will get you the exposure where you want it faster and the same each time. You can also do it by using the histogram and learning how bright the image should be on your LCD but it's not as precise and takes a lot longer. Just have a look at David Hobby on the Strobist videos to see how many times he runs back and forth just to get the exposure right.
     
  22. Kelly, I'm pretty certain that John talks about not using the ambient light (in combination with flash). Not the use of the meter.​
    Correct. Ordinarily, in this situation, the camera meter is not that useful. I could be wrong, the room might have a ceiling window nicely lighting an area. But typically, I am not interested in using the ambient light.
    Sekonic meter will give me more accurate exposure, so I thought I should get used to using it?​
    This is a tough one. Yes, proper use of the meter will be better than the camera. But you want to know how it all works so that when a question arises, you are better able to solve it. The hand held meter is an incident meter. It reads the light falling on the subject. Whereas a camera meter is a reflective meter, it reads the light be reflected back at the camera. Reflective readings can be fooled by bright or dark scenes as the meter is looking to render a scene 18% gray. IF that is all you use a meter for, then you could have saved some money an gotten a gray target card and used the cameras spot metering to spot meter off a gray target card. Spot metering off a gray target card will return the same value that an incident meter would. However, the meter has several other uses. First and foremost, provided it is a flash meter, it can read the light your flashes give off, you camera can't do this. You can can use TTL (preflash) to meter it's own dedicated flash, but this is subject to the same inconsistencies of any reflective reading. You also can't tell what your ratios are with the camera meter. Put another way, you don't know where the light is falling with a camera meter. As example, let's say I have some window light I want to use, I put my subject close to the window, facing the window (looking out), and what I want to do is rim light my subject. In others words, I only want to record the level of light hitting the 5 planes of the face (even though I am missing at least one of those planes in my shot!). I can use a light meter at the subject face, point towards my light source, to meter that light. Your camera meter wants to meter "all" the light. Sure, you could try to spot meter say the nose, adjust the meter for skin tones, and so on. But the point is that a camera meter can't tell you where the light is in your scene. Which, BTW, is the fundamental problem with using a histogram as a light meter. A histogram can't tell you where the light is falling. If I posted nothing but a histogram, would you be able to tell me if it is properly exposed? Now, yes, you can use the histogram in conjunction with the image to evaluate your exposure and this gets easier/better with practice, but the fact still remains: a histogram can't tell you where the light is falling. So yes indeed, an incident/flash meter is highly beneficial.
    Whew. This all goes back to my broken record advice: learn lighting. Volumes are written on the subject. But don't take the advice of peddlers selling their wares. Know what you need and how to achieve it.
     
  23. Thanks. I am reading Off Camera Flash Neil Van Niekerk and have watched most of the strobist videos, etc. I understand reflective vs incident. I have been doing spot metering for about a year and actually understand that concept and do everything manual and raw. I am trying to introduce flash and there is many different ways and opinions that it gets confusing. I have no problem shooting without flash and have no problems with exposure, etc. I feel the next step in growing is to learn external light. I really enjoy doing outdoor sessions, but want to be able to understand the proper way to add light if needed. The winter months will decrease my outdoor business, so I want to be able to do indoor sessions thus want light. This will mainly be children 1 and under.
    My practice room is a 12x12 room with 9 ft ceilings with white walls, white trim, white doors and wood floor. 2 north floor to ceiling windows. My goal is to teach myself external light in this room. I have canon 430 flash, a mono light, umbrella (black removeable for shoot through), pocketwizards TT5/TT1 and sekonic meter.
     

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