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Thread: Oh so difficult lighting, C&C Please!

  1. #1

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    Oh so difficult lighting, C&C Please!

    "Please can you take some promotional pictures of our string quartet?" "I'll give it a go"

    "You can't interact with them, direct them or ask them to move anything. You can only take pictures during the practice. No direct flash. No 'Equipment'. No tripods. Don't get too close. Be quiet. There's lots of light"..........

    This was the room.

    Oh so difficult lighting, C&C Please!

    High ceilings, large, dark red walls and ceiling, the lights you see....

    My poor overworked speedlight, and stand...

    Oh so difficult lighting, C&C Please!

    An ambient light shot, 1/13 f4.5 iso3200

    Oh so difficult lighting, C&C Please!

    And the rather rubbish chosen one, which was the very first shot I took!

    Oh so difficult lighting, C&C Please!

    How would you have tried it?

    Thanks for any help.
    D90, 24-70 f2.8, Speedlight, daughter.

  2. #2

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    Re: Oh so difficult lighting, C&C Please!

    Hi Peter,

    I had a similar "challenge" late last year when the singer Yulia asked me to photograph their workshop for up and coming young talent. Basically, you need a good exposure, and you can't have camera shake, so that means maxing out the ISO - maxing out the aperture (wide open) and let the shutterspeed "fall where it may" (IS lens makes or breaks it really) (I had 1/20th to /80 during the concert @ F4.0 @ ISO 3200 (at 280mm), but (thankfully) had a tripod for that part).

    I also had a single 580EX II on the camera, with a Gary Fong Lightsphere attached (for the workshop only, not the concert) - it did a great job.

    Oh so difficult lighting, C&C Please!

    Oh so difficult lighting, C&C Please!
    In my case I was basically lucky enough to be given the freedom to do what I wanted, but in your case I'd be inclined to stand firm on a few things: "Love to help, but can't change the laws of physics - so if you want me to do this then ... there WILL be some equipment during rehersal - there WILL be some direct flash - I WILL need to move in close sometimes ... and they can just bloomin well get used to it, or I'm afraid that I won't be able to help".

    There NEEDS to be teamwork - the photographer is part of the team, as are the artists.
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 17th April 2012 at 11:37 AM.

  3. #3

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    Re: Oh so difficult lighting, C&C Please!

    Forgot to mention that the instructions came from the 1st violin, my wife!

    Heard good things about the Gary Fong Lightsphere, will have to invest in one.

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    Re: Oh so difficult lighting, C&C Please!

    Quote Originally Posted by PKFUSION View Post
    Heard good things about the Gary Fong Lightsphere, will have to invest in one.
    I've got no less than 4 of them, and they work well for me. Some like me swear by them, whereas other (whom often don't seem to understand how & why they work) seem to think they're no different to "Stofen type" diffusers.

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    Re: Oh so difficult lighting, C&C Please!

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    I've got no less than 4 of them, and they work well for me. Some like me swear by them, whereas other (whom often don't seem to understand how & why they work) seem to think they're no different to "Stofen type" diffusers.
    I have been using them as a result of Colin's advice and have found them very useful. I only take the Stofen with me when I don't want to look too technical or ridiculous with the tupperware on top of my flash!

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    Re: Oh so difficult lighting, C&C Please!

    Quote Originally Posted by Alis View Post
    I have been using them as a result of Colin's advice and have found them very useful. I only take the Stofen with me when I don't want to look too technical or ridiculous with the tupperware on top of my flash!
    Although, thanks to the weather sealing on the 580EX / 600EX series, you could in theory use the lightsphere as a martini glass, and thus look far more sophisticated!

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    UKDivemaster's Avatar
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    Re: Oh so difficult lighting, C&C Please!

    I agree wholeheartedly with the teamwork thing - they are either 'practicing' or getting promotional photos: it is very difficult to do both.

    However, for my taste there is too much light. This might show off the room and all its glory (and discarded music scores littering the floor) but it distracts from the performers. My aim would have been to meter for the highlights on the performers' faces. A high contrast strategy would have darkened the room around them and created more atmosphere.

    Oh so difficult lighting, C&C Please!

    The shot above used ambient light only, although that was provided by spots rather than traditional room lights. I pushed the ISO up to 1600 which gave me 1/60 at f7.1 on a focal length of 30mm - enough to prevent camera shake and give me workable depth of field. The camera was an EOS D400 (hence the grain at 1600).

    You may have been able to create a 'spotlight effect' with your speedlight and daughter combo, with the flash directed towards the performer and power adjusted so edge light from the flash just 'kissed' the artist and instrument.

    Oh and I did have to get in the performer's 'faces' - but perhaps bands are more forgiving than string quartets.
    Last edited by UKDivemaster; 18th April 2012 at 07:46 AM. Reason: more info

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    Re: Oh so difficult lighting, C&C Please!

    Quote Originally Posted by UKDivemaster View Post
    However, for my taste there is too much light. This might show off the room and all its glory (and discarded music scores littering the floor) but it distracts from the performers. My aim would have been to meter for the highlights on the performers' faces. A high contrast strategy would have darkened the room around them and created more atmosphere.
    Hi Mark,

    I agree with the intent, but pretty hard to execute in-camera. If one simply spot-meters faces then the exposure would have been about the same - which is close to what the floor is. In reality the flash is probably hitting the floor too - as well as causing issues with over-lighting the artist to camera right -- so to get it better in-camera one would either have to use a number of flashes and start flagging their output which is pretty hard without assistants and all the right gear.

    I'd suggest just making the changes in post-processing. In this quick adjustment I've knocked the floor back 2 stops - the lights at the top back one - the person and area to camera right back one - and applied a vignette to try and achieve the isolation you mentioned ... (be sure to click for larger version)

    Oh so difficult lighting, C&C Please!
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 18th April 2012 at 09:10 AM.

  9. #9

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    Re: Oh so difficult lighting, C&C Please!

    I like it, thank you! I will try to recreate it and maybe do something about the music on the floor...

  10. #10

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    Re: Oh so difficult lighting, C&C Please!

    Quote Originally Posted by PKFUSION View Post
    I like it, thank you! I will try to recreate it and maybe do something about the music on the floor...
    Here's a quick and dirty fix ...

    Oh so difficult lighting, C&C Please!

  11. #11
    UKDivemaster's Avatar
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    Re: Oh so difficult lighting, C&C Please!

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Mark,

    I agree with the intent, but pretty hard to execute in-camera. If one simply spot-meters faces then the exposure would have been about the same - which is close to what the floor is. In reality the flash is probably hitting the floor too - as well as causing issues with over-lighting the artist to camera right -- so to get it better in-camera one would either have to use a number of flashes and start flagging their output which is pretty hard without assistants and all the right gear.

    I'd suggest just making the changes in post-processing. In this quick adjustment I've knocked the floor back 2 stops - the lights at the top back one - the person and area to camera right back one - and applied a vignette to try and achieve the isolation you mentioned ... (be sure to click for larger version)

    Oh so difficult lighting, C&C Please!

    Wow, Colin, your post processing skills are great. Yes, you are right about metering for the faces/highlights. One work around would be selectively using the flash on individual musicians - which would have had the 'daughter-stand' working hard, but I doubt it would have captured the group image as you have done.

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