1. James Sparham

    James Sparham

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    Hi all

    I've been asked to take photographs at two birthday parties. As this kind of thing is isn't usually my forte I'd be grateful for any tips on equipment and technique (literally anything you can throw at me). They will more than likely be low light.

    One is at a hall, so indoor. The other is at a house in summer, so much of it will be outside.

    Some will be candid. One of the families is also setting up a kind of 'booth' so they can pose with silly props and the like.

    Cheers,

    James
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2018
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  2. sep9001

    sep9001

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    Hi

    Using a flash on camera and bouncing off ceiling or wall, just make sure they are white would be a good starting point.

    If you post what equipment you have you will get better replies.

    Thank you
     
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  3. James Sparham

    James Sparham

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    Brill, thank you

    When you say 'make sure they are white' are you referring to white balance?
     
  4. sep9001

    sep9001

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    No, when bouncing the flash, if you bounce of a red wall you will get a red colour cast in the picture.
     
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  5. Phil V

    Phil V

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    Frankly I never worry too much about the colour of a bounce surface, as at a party you’ll have multi coloured light sources and you need to capture the atmosphere rather than be technically ‘correct’ and WB can always be tweaked in post.

    I think the key is to remember you’re balancing 2 separate exposures. The ambient and the flash.
    This means ... shoot manual*, get a feel for the ambient and choose your exposure level for that (usually a stop under, but it’s to your taste) then use ttl for the flash (remember you can tweak the flash exposure with FEC)

    Other more creative decisions...
    I tend to have quite a narrow zoom on the flash, to avoid it being a floodlight for the background.
    My regular bounce position is to aim the flash head into the join between the wall and ceiling behind me, but more often nowadays I use a radio trigger and hold the flash in my left hand to light directly.

    *by shooting manual and using ETTL you are still allowing the camera to help with the flash exposure, but you’re not trying to 2nd guess the shutter speed and or aperture the camera will choose. So you can pick something fool proof like 1/60 and 5.6 andthe ISO will be high enough so your flash isn’t working too hard.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2018
  6. Gogster

    Gogster

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    IMHO this is absolutely not what you should do, unless it's portrait style you're looking for, if you are going to use flash, dial it right back and use it as fill, otherwise you will lose the light (and atmosphere) of the party. I would go as high ISO as you manage without too much grain, your fastest lens - you can pick up the 50mm f/1.8 very cheaply, and shoot using the disco light colours to add effect. Play around with the shutter speed to freeze the action or allow a bit of movement to give a nice effect.

    On a final note, it's all very well me saying this, the people you should be asking are the people who are asking you to take pictures, what are they looking for?
     
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  7. James Sparham

    James Sparham

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    I'm really grateful for the advice guys, thank you. Gogster, in relation to your last comment they have requested a combination of candid shots and posed photographs with a backdrop. The latter is another can of worms!
     
  8. James Sparham

    James Sparham

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    Hi Phil

    Thank you for your help so far. I now have a good flashgun and a flashgun bounce card with foldable panels, which should help to a certain degree. There is one thing I'm concerned about. The set up for some of the photographs will be a white backdrop with small groups posing in the garden. This will be evening time in summer, so relatively low light. Do you think the flashgun and bounce card will take a strong enough photograph? Or do you think it will take a strategically placed umbrella or softbox to light it properly? I actually have two flashguns if it helps. Hope you don't mind me asking! Cheers
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2018
  9. Phil V

    Phil V

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    If you really need a white background, it needs its own light source.

    An example... if your flash is 4” from the subject, and the subject is 4” from the background, then the background gets 2 steps less light from that flash, so worst case scenario, it’s mid grey with darker shadows from your subjects.

    White background really is the worst thing for a 1st attempt... but surprisingly loads of people want to start with it.

    I’d not choose on camera flash for that type of shot ever, we light subjects to control the shadows, shadows create interest.
     
    James Sparham likes this.
  10. chris malcolm

    chris malcolm

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    From the point of view of pleasing people with posed photographs against a background I've found it very time consuming and very difficult to please people, probably because I'm rubbish at being a stand-up comedian while taking the photos which is what gets the animated expressions and gestures which they like. But if I set up a background and lights, and then flip the display round so they can (roughly) see what they're taking, and give them the remote shutter trigger and ask them to take their own photographs, they clown around and very quickly take photographs which they absolutely love!
     
    KIPAX likes this.
  11. Mr Badger

    Mr Badger

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    An interesting idea, but the last thing I'd want is a load of slightly to rather drunk people getting anywhere near my camera kit, sounds like a recipe for a breakage to me! Reminds me of many years ago when I was a DJ, a couple of times I had to replace a stylus on the decks when some drunken oaf had stumbled into the consul after staggering over to request a certain (and usually totally inappropriate) record! So unless the event is a temperance tea-party I'd want to keep the guests well away from my camera kit!
     
  12. James Sparham

    James Sparham

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    James
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    Indeed, this is causing me issues. They had a photographer last year who used a white background with just one continuous light apparently, but I'd rather use my two flashguns with a commander. Being new to this I'm just not sure where to position them or whether to use an umbrella or softbox. I've been told one flashgun behind the subject pointing at the backdrop and the other... I don't know. It's something I'm going to have to practice with trial and error I guess!
     
  13. Kell

    Kell

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    Kell
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    I'm not an expert, but an on-camera flash improved my indoor stuff dramatically - even when using a fast lens (I tend to stick my 35mm f1.4 on for this type of party)

    I'm still learning, but made the classic mistake of opening up the lens rather than dialing it back down. After seeking advice from here, I've found that the above lens (Sigma) is much happier at about f2.8 and in turn I'm happier with the results.

    As for outside, and off-camera flash, I have no experience at all.
     

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