1. George Daulman

    George Daulman

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    Hi all,

    Looking for some advice, and any tips and tricks to how to photograph in the dark.

    Situation: I am photographing at a party for someone's birthday. They have rented a room at a local pub, and would like me to photograph people coming in. It has an Oscar theme, and I will be using a backdrop that they have provide on supports. Guests will be in formal attire.

    Problem: The space is limited, so I will be working outside in a rather small space. There is basically no outside lights at the premises that I can use. I will be photographing these in near pitch black, apart from any light falling from the window, which is extremely minimal.

    Kit: I use a DSLR, with standard lenses, with a few fast primes etc... Also, I have a couple of on camera flashes (which I have an infrared trigger for too), plus two lightboxes (not wireless, plus isn't the best of qualities - Interfit).

    I've been photographing similar events for over 3 years now, but haven't had to do anything in the pitch black outside. Does anyone have any advice on how to best capture this, and how to position the lighting.

    Many thanks for any advice,

  2. Scooter


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    Hi George,

    tbh, lighting in the studio usually starts by excluding the ambient light - so in effect , we always work in a pitch-black room. A lack of existing random light is not your biggest problem by a long way, so forget about "fast primes" - you don't want some dingy random directionless ambient light anyway! The other "issues" I have found with photographing on a supplied background are:-

    • The background will be tiny
    • The background will be shiny
    • It's meant for single subjects, but 13 people will turn up to be photographed on the 5 foot wide background.

    You have 2 speed-lights - bounce one into a really big reflective umbrella and put this off to the left hand side at right angles to the background. This means subjects nearer the brolly only get light from the far side, but they are closer. Subjects on the right are further away from the light, but see all of the light. This results in fairly even light across the field of view. It also keeps light off the shiny background. Use the other one for on-axis fill in another brolly (ie near you and facing forwards), or for an edge light to camera right and behind the subject.

    Hurrah - just one guy.....(Lencarta Safari II in 90cm octa off to camera left - at right angles to the tiny, shiny background - 2 speed-lights in the back for edge lighting..)

    But they always have a friend and one friend can fit even if the right hand edge light is a bit much on the right hand guy.....

    and sometimes - you just give up, slap a speed light on the camera, ditch the background and go somewhere else, and bounce the light into the ceiling behind you.... no ambiance, but a decent record shot, and that's what people want from these events tbh

    George Daulman and juggler like this.
  3. HoppyUK


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    As above, though if it's really dark you'll have trouble seeing and framing the shot, and the camera won't focus.

    Sort the first problem with maybe an LED panel so you can see what you're doing (you're basically using it as a big torch) and and this should also allow the camera to AF. The flash's AF-assist beam would also fix focusing issues though really needs to be on-camera.
    George Daulman and Scooter like this.
  4. cargo


    Edit My Images:
    I like threads like this as it is a real life experience that many of us faffers may get asked to do. More so it is applicable to regular family get together's. In Restaurants pubs and the like.
    I prefer the bounced speedlight here. I can see there is a time and place for the more professional corporate looking set up though. Maybe it is because most folks like myself whom like to play with the camera will most likely bounce a speedlight at small family dooo's :)

    Scooter likes this.

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