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Flash and Studio Lighting Equipment, Techniques and Setup: Discuss Engagement party...I have been asked invited to an engagement party of a friends but they have asked if I would be ...
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Old 15-11-2014, 19:40   #1 (permalink)
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Engagement party

I have been asked invited to an engagement party of a friends but they have asked if I would be their photographer as they haven't got the budget to pay for a pro just for the engagement party. Having shot a few indoor events I know that lighting is going to be an issue. What setup do you recommend I use for shooting this event. Also, what do you recommend for white balance, do I use gels to balance for the disco lights or not?

Any tips would be great !😄😄
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Old 15-11-2014, 20:46   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Engagement party

For this sort of event I favour my D700 with a 24-70 lens (so for crop factor cameras an 18-55) and a speedlight with a Gary Fong Cloudy Lightsphere diffuser (or copy). I use auto WB, camera in manual mode between 1/30and 1/80 depending on how much ambient I want and between f4 and f8 depending on the distance my subject is from me. I normally use ISO200 but sometimes go to 400.

I would not bother with gels unless you are looking for a particular effect. You would have to be very quick to be able to change the gels for the different colour disco lights!!
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Old 16-11-2014, 00:39   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Engagement party

Everything that Graham said plus ... for the disco

If you are trying to capture the atmosphere of the disco then to get the best effect make sure that your camera doesn't chase its colour changes either, and set a fixed white balance - somewhere between 4500K and 5000k, and keep it there. If possible set it up as an optional user setting, to allow you to quickly change settings.

A fixed white balance will prevent your camera from trying to compensate for the various disco colours and instead give you some photos that more reflect the disco colours. If you need to use flash, then try to balance the output of the flash with the lights so that you can still catch the disco atmosphere - i.e. don't overpower the disco lights so that it looks like daylight, you may need a few test shots to get this to your requirements. With the flash you might need to raise the white balance to 5500K or maybe 5800K. If everything looks too yellow then lower the WB.

Setting the white balance will help you get the results you need even of you are using RAW, as you are likely to get a better exposure and base image to work with in post processing.
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Old 16-11-2014, 13:55   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Engagement party

Thanks for that both of you. Another question, what is the best way to use my flash. I'm not sure wether to use a diffuser like the lighsphere or wether to bounce the flash off of the walls and ceiling. I want to be able to get the atmosphere in the background so don't want the whole room to be lit with flash. How about using a rogue flash bender to create a mini softbox?
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Old 16-11-2014, 14:42   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Engagement party

Unless there is a low ceiling you will probably find that bouncing is ineffective. You will be loosing a lot of light so unless you have fast lenses you will have to increase the ISO. You can get an idea of the difference in aperture required between direct flash and bounce by dividing the distance travelled by the light from the flash into the guide number. So at 10 feet with direct flash with a guide number of 55 you will need f5.6, but the distance from your flash to the ceiling and then to your subject might be nearer 20 feet, so you would need f2.8. The beauty of a diffuser is that you will only loose about 1 stop and the light will be soft. Or at least softer.

You can bounce from walls but be careful of colour casts if they are not white.

I have a home made reflector made from a large piece of white cardboard cut with with a tab at the bottom to allow it to be fixed to a flashgun with an elastic band. With the flash pointing up it will throw a lot of light forwards and the top can be bent down to deflect some light forward too.

You say that you have done this sort of shooting before so you will know the sort of situation you will be shooting in. Best advice is to have a practice first. You don't want to be messing around trying things out on the night.

You can also try the flash at differing power so with a slower shutter speed and low flash power you will get more ambient in the shots too.
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Old 16-11-2014, 15:12   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Engagement party

Here are some happy snaps that I took at a wedding last month. These are purely to illustrate the sort of results I get with the Gary Fong Lightsphere. They are not great pictures, but just look at the lighting. The ceiling is way too high for bouncing and the wall would not give as even a light spread across the room.

First some longer shots.
1

2


3


Some close ups
4


5 ISO 400


Available (disco) light
6


Outside
7 ISO 200


8 ISO 400


9 ISO 400


Continued....
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Old 16-11-2014, 15:15   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Engagement party

Close to the disco
10 ISO 200


All of the rest are ISO 400
11


12


13


14


All of these were taken using my method described in post #2 and are how in wanted them. However, different settings will change the mix of flash and abient. Beware of motion blur if you slow the shutter to increase the ambient though. I had a lot of this when on the dance floor amongst the dancers, exacerbated by very short range so any movement is magnified.

#1 is at f2,8, #5 is f11 - very close - and all others are between f4 and f8. EXIF is in all images.
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Old 17-11-2014, 16:52   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Engagement party

That's great😄 thanks for sharing those, really helps. What focal range did you find best for the close up work?
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Old 17-11-2014, 17:47   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Engagement party

The two close up here were about 6-8 feet and 4-5 feet respectively. Both taken at 70mm (50mm crop factor). I've recently bought the large size Rouge Flashbender, but have not used it enough to form an opinion of it. I suspect that it will be more directional than the Lightsphere, but how much more I'm not sure.

I've also got a Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite which is also very good.
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