Low light event photography - flash?

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#1
How often do you use flash for candid shots?

In particular related to a Office Christmas Party.


I'm shooting f1.4, 1/125th ISO 6400 - so the light is low, the camera can certainly see better than I can at this point.

The problem with 1/125th is that hysterical laughing and huge movements can easily become blurred.

I tend to only use flash when a shot is posed and I want to ensure reasonable lighting.


I experimented at a wedding once using a direct flash with grid and I liked the results - maybe I should have just used that.

I've got a masquerade ball tonight (not the dancing bit), would be good to have a plan, I like plans :)

My aversion to flash I feel like it's a commitment to the shot, whereas without I can take a few safety shots and wait to see if it gets better. But that's maybe me overthinking it
 
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Glenn
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#2
I dislike using flash, so don't use it often, so my competence and confidence are low and I'm usually disappointed by the results, so I dislike using flash and don't use it often... etc. :(

Hopefully you'll get something more constructive....
 
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#4
You can use flash in a few different ways bounce it use it at a lower power but always use a diffuser to soften the light. The use of flash may take away the candid bit
 
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Ken
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#5
I was asked to shoot a pole dance charity event for The University :) on Wednesday.
No flash allowed.
The stage lighting wasn't too bad for most of the show, but pretty dire at other times.
Mostly shot at 3200, F4, 1/160 with a Tamron 24-70 2.8 G2 on a D600
 
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#7
Hi Dan for candid shots at parties with poor light my approach is to expose for the ambient plus direct flash of a small bracket (to get it close to the lens axis and minimize visible shadows) dialed down, say -2EV. I don’t like the party photo look with obvious flash. This approach is simple and keeps a fairly natural looking image plus fill so the people’s faces are clear and catch lights in their eyes. The only problem can be metering getting confused if the light is changing a lot, then I just put the flash in manual. If bounce is possible that can be better but it’s not always practical. Hope this helps.
 
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Hi Dan for candid shots at parties with poor light my approach is to expose for the ambient plus direct flash of a small bracket (to get it close to the lens axis and minimize visible shadows) dialed down, say -2EV. I don’t like the party photo look with obvious flash. This approach is simple and keeps a fairly natural looking image plus fill so the people’s faces are clear and catch lights in their eyes. The only problem can be metering getting confused if the light is changing a lot, then I just put the flash in manual. If bounce is possible that can be better but it’s not always practical. Hope this helps.
Thanks, definitely reminded me about catch lights.

Do you find people notice the flash when you're trying to shoot candidly? Sometimes I'll train the camera on a couple talking, smiling, laughing - take a few snaps, and wait a bit longer to see how it develops. I'm probably over thinking this, but I'm wondering how much I'd have to change how I work.. and whether it would be for the better or worse...

The lighting was some ceiling lights on at one end of the room and the edges with strips colour cycling LEDS :) awesome.
 
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#10
People notice you’re there with or without flash, I don’t think flash on it’s own makes much difference. The most common reaction is people wanting to pose for a photo so the end result is usually a good mixture of candid and posed.
 
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#11
People notice you’re there with or without flash, I don’t think flash on it’s own makes much difference. The most common reaction is people wanting to pose for a photo so the end result is usually a good mixture of candid and posed.
I'm sneaky, I face away from who I'm shooting and point the camera to my side and use the tilt screen :D I find it draws less attention
 
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#13
If you only want candids keep moving so people don’t have time to interrupt their conversation to pose?
 
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#15
If you only want candids keep moving so people don’t have time to interrupt their conversation to pose?
I'd probably loiter around a potential scene, keep an eye on them out the corner of the eye - when something momentous happens, twist and shoot. :D
 
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#16
Do you put a warming filter on the flash to (try and) balance the ambient for interiors?...I always forget and regret it. :)
Not lately, but I've got some magmod kit - so it's easy enough to pop on, i should do it tonight! thanks for reminding me :)

Last time i took a photo where it mattered and it gave me a yellower background, I just used an adjustment brush in Lightroom - it was a single portrait of a winner, so not an entire evening of images to consider fixing.
 
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#17
With mixed colored lights at parties I don’t bother with gels. Makes sense when there is a dominant WB to address.
 
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#18
You can use flash in a few different ways bounce it use it at a lower power but always use a diffuser to soften the light. The use of flash may take away the candid bit
Diffuser in a party situation helps if it’s really big or you’re really close? When you’re a reasonable distance from a group I don’t see a difference vs direct flash.
 
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#19
That looks a lot brighter than my gig the other night, Dan.
Very nice set.
 
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#20
Well I've just finished processing a Corporate Christmas party from last night, only posed stuff with flash.

https://danielcookphotography.pixieset.com/g/thomsonchristmasparty/
Whatever you're doing there, keep doing it (y) That's a good set, and while using flash often changes the atmosphere from what it actually was, if it's replaced by something suitably sympathetic but obviously better, no worries.

You say flash, but just trying to deconstruct a few images out of interest, I think I can see various examples and combinations of flash/ambient, bounce ceiling/walls, direct fill-in, off-camera flash etc. Care to explain one or two images in more detail? Cheers :)

Edit: As a comment, it's very rare indeed to find artificial ambient light that's properly usable without some help/flash, and usually it's frankly dire - not enough of it, coming from multiple sources, shadows all over the place, and with different colours. Flash every time, but there are 101 ways of using flash.
 
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#21
Whatever you're doing there, keep doing it (y) That's a good set, and while using flash often changes the atmosphere from what it actually was, if it's replaced by something suitably sympathetic but obviously better, no worries.

You say flash, but just trying to deconstruct a few images out of interest, I think I can see various examples and combinations of flash/ambient, bounce ceiling/walls, direct fill-in, off-camera flash etc. Care to explain one or two images in more detail? Cheers :)

Edit: As a comment, it's very rare indeed to find artificial ambient light that's properly usable without some help/flash, and usually it's frankly dire - not enough of it, coming from multiple sources, shadows all over the place, and with different colours. Flash every time, but there are 101 ways of using flash.
I didn't bounce flash, I used magmod forward firing modifier for any where people are posed for me, and perhaps 1 or 2 photos where they are not.

Let me know which 2 you have in mind.

and thanks!
 
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#22
I didn't bounce flash, I used magmod forward firing modifier for any where people are posed for me, and perhaps 1 or 2 photos where they are not.

Let me know which 2 you have in mind.

and thanks!
No worries Dan. Just that the light changes quite a lot throughout the set so I was wondering if you'd done anything deliberate. Maybe that's just how things turned out as people and positions moved around.

I like the way you've used foreground/people bokeh effects. It works well compositionally and creates a nice party atmosphere :)
 
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