Discussion in 'Portraits and Fashion' started by concert_images, Apr 14, 2005.

  1. I've just been asked to do some promo shots for a major rock band
    tomorrow night before their gig. There are 4 of them, it will be in
    their dressing room or other backstage area and I don't expect
    lighting to be great.

    Kit is Nikon F100, 17-35 f/2.8-4 or 28-70 f/2.8, Fuji NPZ 800 film,
    SB28 flash. If the light is too dark to handhold without flash I
    start worrying - I've only ever used the flash for slow sync in
    concerts, but this needs to be simple static TTL fill flash, not slow
    sync. If I want to work at f/4 for example, A mode gives wild weird
    readings, so I have no clue how to set this up so that I get fill
    flash into their faces without either blowing the highlights, or
    reducing the background to a dark mess. P mode gives 1/60 at f/7.1
    but I don't need that depth. Also, how to angle the flash head!?!??!?!

    I can't mess this up - this is a one off chance and I have no time or
    opportunity to run test rolls...

    Please help!!! I'm panicking!!!!

  2. Niel, take this one step at a time. First of all, what film are you going to use? B&W? Color? I am guessing color. What's the final product? Liner notes? A poster? Web? Depending on the answer to this, you will have to choose a film that meets the requirements of the look you are going for. I personally would probably shoot Fuji Superia 1600. I shot it at a show a few weeks ago in nyc with stunning success.

    Flash -- manual, in my opinion. It's the only way to go in this situation. With the SB-80DX that I use on my F100, I can set the power based on a calculated distance displayed on the back of the flash unit. If I was shooting at an average of 12 feet, I set the thing at the calculation for 12 feet. I'm telling you now, I was much more comfortable doing it this way rather than setting it on matrix ttl flash metering mode. I knew that if I did that, the highlights, or even the midtones, woudld be totally blown out. The way I compose often puts the subject at the extreme edge of the frame, which is a big way to fool the TTL flash metering system in the F100.

    Anyway, I have loaded fuji 1600 in my camera. Now I probably would put on the 17-35 (wishing I had a prime, maybe a 28 or 35 because it is so sharp, simple, and fast; and it allows me to be extremely comfortable, fostering creativity).

    Using the camera in M manual mode, I meter for the ambient light using either a spot on a good middle-toned surface (these types of dark situations can really fool your human 18% grey detection algorithm so watch out) or using the matrix metering system. Using a fast shutter sync speed, like 1/125 sec. or something like that I choose an aperture that will give me a well-exposed background. Then, I set my flash to the distance I am from the subject. I would use bounce flash, but chances are I will be moving around and it will be bouncing off of a really reflective surface one minute and no surface the next, screwing everything up, but giving nicely-lit results on a few frames.

    The NUMBER ONE thing about this little gig you are shooting is that you HAVE to get comfortable. If you constantly fiddle around with your camera, changing settings, doing calculations in your head, trying to guess what is happening, you are going to be a nervous wreck, and I guarantee you will miss the decisive moments. You must get these moments for the shoot to be a success. Well, maybe not considering the condition photography is in these days, but if you have high standards.... I digress...

    Good luck. Don't worry. Have fun.

    Oh, and if you get there and the conditions are well-lit with light you could use to your creative advantage, by all means pocket that flash unit, open up your aperture, and snap away. The band will feel more comfortable with you there, and you will feel more comfortable rattling off frame after frame with minimal intrusion into their world.
  3. I missed the part about using the NPZ. :) It doesn't change my recommendations though.
  4. You can hardly go wrong with TTL flash. When I bounce the light off the ceiling I get very well exposed shots, no matter what aperture I choose. It's ok to work in A mode (actually I believe it's probably the best choice in this type of situations), and when you mentioned P mode gives f/7.1, I would think that you DO need some safe dof. The meter reading is not related to what the camera will be using because TTL works dynamically: it evaluates the amount of light during exposure and stops the flash when enough light has hit the film.
    Sorry for the messy description, but you can summarize it with: A mode, center wighted exp mode, and TTL flash.
    Hope this helps.
  5. a few from that concert i mentioned. no flash.


  6. Any thoughts on getting the flash off camera with a cord and possibly using a diffuser? As long as I order them today they will be with me tomorrow for the shoot...
  7. The TTL flash control in the F100-SB28 combo works just fine. In a small room, like a dressing room, you probably want to use -0.5 to -1.0 compensation on the flash unit to avoid blowing highlights. A diffuser cap, like a Sto-Fens, works very well in this situation. The background stays much lighter and there's less of the "chalk on black velvet" look.

    If you want a more natural look, use slow flash (rear or front). Put an amber gel on the flash (even under the Sto-Fens) so the flash blends in better with the incandescent room light. Do all the color correction in post. You can get 24"x24" sheets of gel from a camera shop for studio photogs, and Nikon sells a gel pack separately (it comes with the SB-800).
  8. A mode with TTL should be perfectly fine. Wouldn't worry about those wild readings that Nikons give in that mode. Set the DOF you want and fire away. The flash/camera combo on A should give you excellent results, and the NPZ will certainly do a nice job.

    Mind you, if it were me, I'd skip the flash and push the NPZ to 1600, but that's just me.
  9. Neil, relax. I would definitely pack a flash. Your job is to put four guys in one frame in a clever manner. I'd be looking thru music magazines for ideas. This shot is of the group Talk Talk from 1982, when I shot them backstage. I know it's not the greatest shot, it was done only for myself, but you will find backstage, similar circumstances-- nothing elaborate. mary

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