Low Light Shooting Part 2

So the second part of my Low Light shooting experience was at a work event. Our Sales team all went away for a 2 day Offsite event, and the highlight was the Halloween themed Dinner and Dance evening. Costume was compulsory, and with 100 or so people there I was anticipating an entertaining evening of photography.

However once we got to the dining room it became very clear that the quality of the lighting was very poor. My shutterspeeds became measured in seconds, and everything was coming out all blurry. What to do??

This was an unexpected situation, and I only had my trusty 17-85mm lens on which wasn’t the ideal option, but it was what I had. So I cranked up the ISO to about 1200 or so and had a fiddle with the White Balance settings. That helped a bit, I was able to get my shutter speed down a bit, but it was still sub optimal.

Luckily another Canon user was there and they loaned me their flash – I think it was a 580ex but Im not sure. I had never used one of these on my camera before (or ever) so I had some fun with experimenting with bounce angles (straight up worked best) – the ceiling was fairly white so it seemed to be a vast improvement.

It was a really good lesson about the difficulties of shooting inside – the shape of the room was very odd, and it was quite large, and didnt have very many windows, so there was very limited natural light even during the day. And when they turned the lights on for the evening, the colour of the light was extremely yellow. The lights were also fancy wallmounted ones, just above head hight along the walls, and carefully placed to be as inconvenient as possible to a photographer wanting shots against a neutral background.

Still it was a good evening, and most people were happy to be shot, with or without a flash, and I managed to get some good group shots, which pleased the members of the groups, and a few entertaining candids as well (candids are MUCH harder to get with the flash on, obviously)

Major issue I had with this setup? The weight. Add camera and lens and then the flash on, which was a lot heavier than I expected, and I got very tired very quickly. And the time it took for the flash to recharge or ready itself for the next shot meant I lost the opportunity for a lot of good ‘second’ shots. This was an unexpected side-effect of flash photography I had been ignorant of.

It was an *excellent* learning experience, and good that I could do it in a fairly safe environment ie there were no major expectations around the volume or quality of my images, everyone was pleased to see what I did get, and have a laugh at the result πŸ™‚

And of course you want to see the evidence!

 

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About lensaddiction

Mad keen photographer figuring it out as she goes!
This entry was posted in Camera Adventures, For Beginners, Waffle and Burbling and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Low Light Shooting Part 2

  1. Craig says:

    My 2nd investment after the circular polarisers was a flash πŸ˜€ Can’t be without it now. But you don’t know heavy until you wander around with it on and a 1.4KG 70-200L or 300F2.8 out the front πŸ™‚

    I imagine the slow recycle issue you talked of might have been a result of the camera mode. Flashes can only burst as fast as 250th/second. So if you have it in High-speed sync, or to the point the flash needs to fire at full power EVERY time it drains it very fast.

    I’m starting to teach myself workarounds to similar situations to minimise shadows (weddings.. ick) So far I go manual on 1/250 (or down to 80th) with flash on, stick to around F3-F5 and adjust ISO to try and hit that mid sweet spot.

    Then use flash exposure comp (forcefully adjust the power) so its not so over powering.

    • lensaddiction says:

      Thanks Craig – I had NO IDEA how my camera was set up for flash – I know when I was using the popup I had set it to rear curtain (one of the things I remembered from my Scott Kelby books) but other than that, I didnt do anything to the settings. I still have no idea how to set my camera up for a flash πŸ™‚

      And yes the weight was a HUGE surprise, you dont expect something the size of a flash to weigh as much as it does, but then it has all that battery in it I guess.

      Have you got some pix online? link?

  2. Craig says:

    I do. But not updated flickr in some time
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/11719003@N07/

    and my main bunch of showoff ones (also needing an update) http://photos.cwcrew.co.nz

    • lensaddiction says:

      Nice shots – I like the one on your wedding site of the guy carrying the bride while walking down the train tracks – nice idea and composition πŸ™‚

  3. forkboy says:

    You sound just like me last year.

    I purchased the 580EX II shortly after acquiring my Canon 40D. I had never used a flash/strobe like this so I did some quick reading online and read about bouncing the flash’s output off walls, ceilings, etc.

    When it works it works great. When it doesn’t…oh well.

    And the weight problem…I guess I’m lucky in that I’m a 1.93 meters tall so I don’t find hauling around my 40D and a 100-400mm lens tiring. Unless it’s for more than a few hours.

    You might consider investing in a monopod for those times you know you’ll be out for hours, lugging around the camera and such. I’m beginning to think about purchasing one myself to supplement my tripod.

  4. Miserere says:

    I prefer bouncing the flash off walls whenever possible. Even better, is bouncing it off the angle where the wall meets the ceiling, that way you get light hitting your subjects from two different directions. Strobe photography is another Art, so keep practising! πŸ™‚

  5. Gyula Rusinczky says:

    Hey there,

    I am pretty much specialized for low-light photography, I shoot mainly at night. I use quality prime Nikon glasses, steady hands and only ambient light. Take a look at my works if you fancy.

    Thanks!

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