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Thread: Constant Lighting vs. Speedlights for Event Photography

  1. #1
    sbougon's Avatar
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    Constant Lighting vs. Speedlights for Event Photography

    If you were photographing a party or prom type event, where there would be a designated area for photographs, would constant lighting or speedlights be preferred? Comments, suggestions and opinions welcome.
    Last edited by sbougon; 19th July 2012 at 03:16 AM.

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    Re: Constant Lighting vs. Speedlights for Event Photography

    I will make a couple of assumptions from your question. You are considering using in-place lighting at the facility hosting the event or providing your own on or off camera flashes for the job. You aren't mentioning strobes (preferable) so I have to assume they are not an option.

    For me, of the two, in-door constant lighting would be the best choice as it would give you a consistent result throughout a long-term event. A steady source without having to change speedlight batteries or waiting for recycle times as they degrade is less hassle. There are a couple of conditions though. If you are not providing the lights, they are in-place at the facility, then the constant lights have to be suitable for the job. That means bright enough to use f8 and 1/320 and of the same temperature to give you consistent results side to side without having to to any post editing. A couple of explanations.... I say f8 because the type of event you describe will not be conducive to getting all that creative with your depth of field. People will be in a hurry to get the shot then back to the party. With a good background the f8 will give you a DOF that you won't have to be that accurate with positioning and the revelers can get back to the partying with a minimum of effort. 1/320 minimum shutter for the same reason. In a party environment they may not be that cooperative about sitting still. Whatever your final choice, test and practice ahead of time. You need to work on this on your own to understand your setup to get it right but I'm sure others here will give you more detailed info to work with.

    By the way...you don't mention time of day so if you can, the best constant light is the sun. Open shade would be my first choice if it's appropriate. It may be prudent to get the photos out of the way early anyway.
    Last edited by Andrew1; 19th July 2012 at 06:01 AM.

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    Re: Constant Lighting vs. Speedlights for Event Photography

    Speedlights or Studio Portable Flash. It is a no brainer.

    1. Freezes Subject Movement.
    2. Low Heat.
    3. Doesn’t make them squint.
    4. Can be NON Mains Power if necessary – (Public Liability Insurance Premium / Event Insurance Premium)
    5. You don’t need mega-watts to get “a lot” of useable light into the scene.
    6. Light weight – easy to move.
    7. Easier to manage CT.
    8. Does not stuff up the ambience of the event with a “Bright Corner” constantly lit.

    Recently discussed.

    Also recently discussed.


    WW

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    Re: Constant Lighting vs. Speedlights for Event Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew1 View Post
    I will make a couple of assumptions from your question. You are considering using in-place lighting at the facility hosting the event or providing your own on or off camera flashes for the job. You aren't mentioning strobes (preferable) so I have to assume they are not an option.

    For me, of the two, in-door constant lighting would be the best choice as it would give you a consistent result throughout a long-term event. A steady source without having to change speedlight batteries or waiting for recycle times as they degrade is less hassle. There are a couple of conditions though. If you are not providing the lights, they are in-place at the facility, then the constant lights have to be suitable for the job. That means bright enough to use f8 and 1/320 and of the same temperature to give you consistent results side to side without having to to any post editing. A couple of explanations.... I say f8 because the type of event you describe will not be conducive to getting all that creative with your depth of field. People will be in a hurry to get the shot then back to the party. With a good background the f8 will give you a DOF that you won't have to be that accurate with positioning and the revelers can get back to the partying with a minimum of effort. 1/320 minimum shutter for the same reason. In a party environment they may not be that cooperative about sitting still. Whatever your final choice, test and practice ahead of time. You need to work on this on your own to understand your setup to get it right but I'm sure others here will give you more detailed info to work with.

    By the way...you don't mention time of day so if you can, the best constant light is the sun. Open shade would be my first choice if it's appropriate. It may be prudent to get the photos out of the way early anyway.
    I would be using two softboxes with adjustable lighting, and a speedlight for roaming shots.

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    Re: Constant Lighting vs. Speedlights for Event Photography

    Continuous lighting is O.K. for inanimate subjects but, I like flash (either studio or hotshoe) for people or animals...

    Getting enough continuous light for a decent f/stop and shutter speed means that you need some pretty bright light. This can be quite hot and quite bright which means that you will probably have uncomfortable subjects.

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    Re: Constant Lighting vs. Speedlights for Event Photography

    Steve, I assumed your initial inquiry about using continuous lighting was utilizing some existing well lit location within the facility. That not being the case, I indicated my first choice would be strobes. Your softboxes with strobes or speedlights, reflectors, etc would of course do you well in just about any situation. For your roaming shots, if you can, get your speedlight off the camera. Some of the brackets can look a bit geeky but are well worth the effort to use. Alzo and Stroboframe are two that come to mind. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvnfwPhK34Y Better yet, an assistant with a small speedlight softbox on triggers. Whatever you choose to go with, a little practice ahead of time and I'm sure you will do just fine.

    As a side note for continuous lighting, using a modern continuous light setup is not hot and is plenty bright enough for the work you have described. Daylight fluorescent bulbs either in tube form or compacts are being used more and more for studio work as people become informed of new technologies, their capabilities and learn how to use them in a suitable situation.
    Last edited by Andrew1; 20th July 2012 at 06:28 AM.

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    Re: Constant Lighting vs. Speedlights for Event Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew1 View Post
    Steve, I assumed your initial inquiry about using continuous lighting was utilizing some existing well lit location within the facility. That not being the case, I indicated my first choice would be strobes. Your softboxes with strobes or speedlights, reflectors, etc would of course do you well in just about any situation. For your roaming shots, if you can, get your speedlight off the camera. Some of the brackets can look a bit geeky but are well worth the effort to use. Alzo and Stroboframe are two that come to mind. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvnfwPhK34Y Better yet, an assistant with a small speedlight softbox on triggers. Whatever you choose to go with, a little practice ahead of time and I'm sure you will do just fine.

    As a side note for continuous lighting, using a modern continuous light setup is not hot and is plenty bright enough for the work you have described. Daylight fluorescent bulbs either in tube form or compacts are being used more and more for studio work as people become informed of new technologies, their capabilities and learn how to use them in a suitable situation.
    Andrew, point well taken. I have not purchased the equipment yet. I have umbrellas and stands, with all of the associated goodies, but I thought something like this setup would get me started on the righ foot.

    CowboyStudio 2275 Watt Digital Video Continuous Softbox Lighting Kit/Boom Set

    The price seems ok, and even if it doesn't last a lifetime it could be very useful.

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    Re: Constant Lighting vs. Speedlights for Event Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by sbougon View Post
    I have not purchased the equipment yet. I have umbrellas and stands, with all of the associated goodies, but I thought something like this setup would get me started on the righ foot.

    CowboyStudio 2275 Watt Digital Video Continuous Softbox Lighting Kit/Boom Set

    The price seems ok, and even if it doesn't last a lifetime it could be very useful.
    Before you buy, I suggest you do the mathematics.
    The specs state: “the total output for the [two] main lights is 2000 Watt”

    By my rough mental arithmetic (and it is 2300hrs and after dinner here, so I might be 1 or 2 stops in error) . . . BUT
    With those two lights set at 48 inches from the Subjects – you will be pulling about: F/4 @ 1/60s @ ISO400, perhaps an half-stop more open.
    Are you shooting Full Length Shots in the Photo Booth?

    ***

    Also – I think the warning is also in the description of the product here (my underlining for emphasis):
    “Product Description
    This kit is the perfect set up for web retailers or anyone wants to get a high quality videos and shots. It provides very higher power, total output is 2275 Watt continuous lighting.”


    WW

    (At this time in the evening maybe my metal arithmetic is radically wrong – someone might confirm.)

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    Re: Constant Lighting vs. Speedlights for Event Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew1 View Post
    As a side note for continuous lighting, using a modern continuous light setup is not hot and is plenty bright enough for the work you have described. Daylight fluorescent bulbs either in tube form or compacts are being used more and more for studio work as people become informed of new technologies, their capabilities and learn how to use them in a suitable situation.
    Despite the technology which allows less heat (CFL and LED) continuous lighting still has to be bright enough to allow a shutter speed fast enough to stop any subject movement and to achieve an aperture which will provide decent depth of field.

    Bright lights are not comfortable for human or amimal subjects and often result in the subjects squinting and, in human subjects, the pupils often contract to pin-point size.

    I was lighting these puppies for video with continuous LED and CFL light sources but, decided to shoot a still image with the same ighting. Although the light was fine for video, the slower shutter speed allowed the puppy to move its head creating a blur. I saved this image as an illustration of subject movement with continuous lighting. The movement doesn't have to be extensive to cause a blur...

    Constant Lighting vs. Speedlights for Event Photography

    With flash indoors, the short duration of the flash will usually stop any subject motion. The flash also is usually a lot brighter than the continuous light source but, doesn't annoy the subjects...

  10. #10
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    Re: Constant Lighting vs. Speedlights for Event Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    Despite the technology which allows less heat (CFL and LED) continuous lighting still has to be bright enough to allow a shutter speed fast enough to stop any subject movement and to achieve an aperture which will provide decent depth of field.

    Bright lights are not comfortable for human or amimal subjects and often result in the subjects squinting and, in human subjects, the pupils often contract to pin-point size.

    I was lighting these puppies for video with continuous LED and CFL light sources but, decided to shoot a still image with the same ighting. Although the light was fine for video, the slower shutter speed allowed the puppy to move its head creating a blur. I saved this image as an illustration of subject movement with continuous lighting. The movement doesn't have to be extensive to cause a blur...

    Constant Lighting vs. Speedlights for Event Photography

    With flash indoors, the short duration of the flash will usually stop any subject motion. The flash also is usually a lot brighter than the continuous light source but, doesn't annoy the subjects...
    What if this setup was used in conjuntion with a speedlight set for closer distances?

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    Re: Constant Lighting vs. Speedlights for Event Photography

    Steve, while I still maintain that constant lighting is fine if used properly, I really don't believe you will get suitable lighting for the amount of money your add shows. You get what you pay for and in this case it won't be much. You will be very disappointed and probably be wasting your money.

    As I indicated in my last post I thought you were using lighting that was already in-place at the venue which you then cleared up to say you were going to use soft boxes. I shouldn't have assumed you already had them. Had your original post indicated you were looking at purchasing all your equipment for this event I would have given you a different answer. (except about the sun which is still the #1 source) I won't make any more assumptions.

    I went on quite a bit here about what you could do but erased it in favour of a question. What do you have for equipment now related to your intended use? Camera, flash, triggers, reflectors, umbrellas, background, etc. Also, your familiarity with using the equipment. Give us some kind of idea what we are starting with. Oh, also your timeline and budget would be nice too.

    Thanks Steve.

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    Re: Constant Lighting vs. Speedlights for Event Photography

    Andrew,

    I have one Nikon speedlight SB910, one 46" umbrella and one 40" umbrella. I also have the flash trigger cord. I would like to get another speedlight that is CLS compatible, I believe the Nikon SB 600 would fit the bill. I really have not done too much indoor photography other than with either a speelight or camera equipped flash.

    Additionally, your time and patience helping me, is very much appreciated.

  13. #13
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    Re: Constant Lighting vs. Speedlights for Event Photography

    Actually, a single bounced hotshoe flash mounted on a off camera bracket (I use a Stroboframe Camera Flip) and modified with a diffuser/reflector (I use the Demb Flash Diffuser Pro) can give you very decent results for run and gun shooting at an event...

    Constant Lighting vs. Speedlights for Event Photography

    Constant Lighting vs. Speedlights for Event Photography

  14. #14

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    Re: Constant Lighting vs. Speedlights for Event Photography

    Steve, you certainly have a good start on the lighting equipment and could easily do what you are after. For the walking around candid type shots your 910 is more than up to the task. Bouncing the light off of ceilings or walls is an option but quite frankly a pain in the butt and just something else to look out for. I's suggest a good diffuser such as the LumiQuest Softbox III or Lastolite Ezybox. They do a great job of giving you a softer light. These are only two brands of many. Someone local will have something similar.

    As for the more formal designated area your umbrellas will also be fine. They give a wider less controlled spread than a softbox would but you can manage. You also mention the possibility of an additional flash and the 600 would be good choice if you would like to utilize all the CLS capabilities Nikon has to offer. Personally I went another route with middle of the road radio triggers and a few SB28's to give me more lighting options for about the same price. Neither is better, just different.

    Rather than go on and on here about what you can do with your equipment I'll just put down some links I've found very helpful over the years. On the Lasotlite site go into the video demos, browse by technique. They are showing their own equipment but it doesn't matter. There's some great info there. The Strobist is also a great one, SmokingStrobes is invaluable and Mark Wallace's 1on1 is another that sets the bar for others. You may want to skip through some of his basic stuff and go right to the ones on lighting. Take a look at the videos, play a bit with your equipment and you'll do just fine.

    http://www.lastolite.com/
    http://strobist.blogspot.ca/2006/03/...flash-and.html
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYscFasr3EQ
    http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLF2E554F11CBFF32B

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