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Low light group event portrait



 
 
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  #1  
Old July 24th 07, 06:42 PM posted to rec.photo.digital.slr-systems,rec.photo.equipment.35mm
Paul Furman
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Posts: 7,367
Default Low light group event portrait

I've been asked to photograph a company retirement party (paid) which
will be about 20 people in a restaurant under candlelight at a few
tables. I've agreed to do it but warned them that's really extraordinary
shooting conditions. I have a 50mm f/1.2 but that's too long for most
cases on crop frame D200, otherwise I have f/2 lenses at 28mm & 35mm and
a 20mm f/2.8 AF though that starts getting so wide it distorts the
people at the edges. Even a 10.5mm f/2.8 fisheye :-)

I suggested maybe turn on the lights for a few more formal group shots,
they don't seem to be planning to do any big prints, just wanting the
digital files for web or probably a small print in a corporate
newsletter or some such.

I don't have or know how to use external flash though I could try
reflecting the onboard flash with a white card at the ceiling.

I figure I'll do a custom WB setting and I'll bring a tripod though I
doubt that'll be useful for most of the candids. Maybe the 70-200/2.8 VR
could be tried for the VR at 70mm & further back for more candid stuff,
less of the photog in your face.

I probably should bring my laptop to check how it's working after the
first bit.

Any other suggestions? Should I back out & tell them to hire someone
else with flash because this is a hopeless assignment? I enjoy low light
shooting but this will be really rough.



Here's some examples with the 50mm f/1.2:
http://www.edgehill.net/1/?SC=go.php&DIR=2_human-world/4-People&PG=1&PIC=4
Click for enlargement.
The previous shot is soft due to the 1/3 second shutter speed:
http://www.edgehill.net/1/?SC=go.php&DIR=2_human-world/4-People&PG=1&PIC=3
This one shows the depth of field better (click for enlargement)
http://www.edgehill.net/1/Misc/photography/bokeh/2007-04-03-50mm1.2/_PBF5404.jpg
though that'll be less extreme in a wider group view.

--
Paul Furman Photography
http://www.edgehill.net/1
Bay Natives Nursery
http://www.baynatives.com
  #2  
Old July 24th 07, 07:17 PM posted to rec.photo.digital.slr-systems,rec.photo.equipment.35mm
Nicholas O. Lindan
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Posts: 1,227
Default Low light group event portrait

"Paul Furman" wrote

I've been asked to photograph a company retirement party (paid) which will
be about 20 people in a restaurant under candlelight at a few tables.


What is the destination of the pics: Xeroxed company newsletter;
4x6" momento prints for the participants; www (how big); framed
8x10's in the company lobby?

If it's a same-old-same-old for the company newsletter
then nobody cares - I would bow to tradition and take the
pictures with an Instamatic 104 and a flash cube.

If it's the framed 8x10 end of the quality spectrum then I would
visit the restaurant a few days before hand, scope out the
lighting and duplicate it at home/studio. It doesn't have
to be exact but sorta should have the same mix of candles &
incandescent and maybe the same color-range(ish) of wall
coverings. Then find something that works - on your own
time.

If they are paying then they should get a professional job:
you walk in, take the shots, walk out. No farting with cables
and laptops. Either during cocktails or just after desert.

Using flash will just add to the color balance mish-mash,
see flash-cube, above.

Set up - Me it would be a 4x5 and b&w, er, the 20D, 35mm
normalish lens, tall tripod and possibly one of those
collapsible light reflectors. Bring my own step stool if
the chairs are fancy. Bokeh be damned.

--
Nicholas O. Lindan, Cleveland, Ohio
Darkroom Automation: F-Stop Timers, Enlarging Meters
http://www.darkroomautomation.com/index.htm
n o lindan at ix dot netcom dot com


  #3  
Old July 24th 07, 07:23 PM posted to rec.photo.digital.slr-systems,rec.photo.equipment.35mm
Peter Chant
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Posts: 238
Default Low light group event portrait

Paul Furman wrote:

I've been asked to photograph a company retirement party (paid) which
will be about 20 people in a restaurant under candlelight at a few
tables. I've agreed to do it but warned them that's really extraordinary
shooting conditions. I have a 50mm f/1.2 but that's too long for most


Could be a lack of technique and skill on my part (and I am definitely not
pro or intend to be) but under similar conditions, candlelight and v dim
tungsten I've not managed to get many usable shots using Delta 3200 with a
28mm f2.8 hand held (Ricoh GR1v). Those that I do get are v grany and not
that sharp - not necessarily blurred, but not sharp.

Others may have had more success.

Pete


--
http://www.petezilla.co.uk
  #4  
Old July 24th 07, 08:09 PM posted to rec.photo.digital.slr-systems
Frank ess
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 1,232
Default Low light group event portrait



Peter Chant wrote:
Paul Furman wrote:

I've been asked to photograph a company retirement party (paid)
which
will be about 20 people in a restaurant under candlelight at a few
tables. I've agreed to do it but warned them that's really
extraordinary shooting conditions. I have a 50mm f/1.2 but that's
too long for most


Could be a lack of technique and skill on my part (and I am
definitely not pro or intend to be) but under similar conditions,
candlelight and v dim tungsten I've not managed to get many usable
shots using Delta 3200 with a 28mm f2.8 hand held (Ricoh GR1v).
Those that I do get are v grany and not that sharp - not necessarily
blurred, but not sharp.

Others may have had more success.

Pete


Seems to me they have expectations of "record" photographs. That's
going to be difficult. I'd make it clear that "I'm an art
photographer. I'll make you some great impressionistic works very
evocative of the occasion. If you want record photos, maybe you could
get someone else..."

Or maybe just do the "Instamatic + flash" for the record and some
"very evocative" works as a bonus. That opens up the noise/grain of
high ISO and the blur of slow shutter, as acceptable.

Sounds like a real challenge, but I bet you can do it well.

--
Frank ess

  #5  
Old July 24th 07, 08:16 PM posted to rec.photo.digital.slr-systems,rec.photo.equipment.35mm
Paul Furman
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 7,367
Default Low light group event portrait

Nicholas O. Lindan wrote:
"Paul Furman" wrote

I've been asked to photograph a company retirement party (paid) which will
be about 20 people in a restaurant under candlelight at a few tables.


What is the destination of the pics: Xeroxed company newsletter;
4x6" momento prints for the participants; www (how big); framed
8x10's in the company lobby?


They just want the digital files, that's all I got as a reply when I
asked so I'm guessing it's email & company newsletter.

If it's a same-old-same-old for the company newsletter
then nobody cares - I would bow to tradition and take the
pictures with an Instamatic 104 and a flash cube.

If it's the framed 8x10 end of the quality spectrum then I would
visit the restaurant a few days before hand, scope out the
lighting and duplicate it at home/studio. It doesn't have
to be exact but sorta should have the same mix of candles &
incandescent and maybe the same color-range(ish) of wall
coverings. Then find something that works - on your own
time.

If they are paying then they should get a professional job:
you walk in, take the shots, walk out. No farting with cables
and laptops. Either during cocktails or just after desert.


OK well, $300 which I figure at $50/hr with 3 hours of shooting & 3
hours of cleaning up the set. So 'professional' but not high budget.
That's why I wonder if they should just hire someone who does this kind
of work to show up for 10 minutes & set up a bunch of gear. I'm going to
sit down & eat dinner too; I know them and have done consulting for them
for other things & they like me & respect my work.

Using flash will just add to the color balance mish-mash,
see flash-cube, above.


Good point, thanks for confirming that. Digital may come out OK with
dialed down bounced flash but I wouldn't rely on more than a few
experiments that way.

Set up - Me it would be a 4x5 and b&w, er, the 20D, 35mm
normalish lens, tall tripod and possibly one of those
collapsible light reflectors. Bring my own step stool if
the chairs are fancy.


Why get up so high? Isn't it usually more flattering to shoot from below
making the subjects appear 'tall & powerful'? Just a way of getting the
whole table of faces in the frame?

Another consideration is if they don't have a private room, I really
shouldn't even set up a tripod (maybe once briefly) or spend too much
time hovering around with the camera 'like a pro' distracting the customers.

Bokeh be damned.


I warned them it's going to look 'artsy' & grainy & not like normal
lighting. If it's candle light, it should look like candle light IMO.

--
Paul Furman Photography
http://www.edgehill.net/1
Bay Natives Nursery
http://www.baynatives.com
  #6  
Old July 24th 07, 08:35 PM posted to rec.photo.digital.slr-systems,rec.photo.equipment.35mm
Floyd L. Davidson
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 5,138
Default Low light group event portrait

Paul Furman wrote:

....

I don't have or know how to use external flash though I
could try reflecting the onboard flash with a white card
at the ceiling.


....

Any other suggestions? Should I back out & tell them to
hire someone else with flash because this is a hopeless
assignment? I enjoy low light shooting but this will be
really rough.


I think there are two options, obtain an external flash
or backout of it.

I shoot parties and many many random bits of life in one
local restaurant (located literally across the road, and
I use it as my living room), and have often done parties
at another.

A lot depends on the particular restaurant. How evenly
lit it is, how large the room is, how high the ceiling
is, and what color the walls and ceiling are.

But invariably it comes down to how to set up a flash,
because there simply is no other way. (Restaurants are
probably the only place where I routinely use flash as a
main light.)

Certain tables might have enough light, or might have
light at certain times of the day and not at other
times. That is useful for my purposes, but probably not
for your assignment.

One trick I've used for parties is to set up three
different flash units, each with an optical trigger, in
the corners of the room at ceiling height. It basically
dowsed the entire room with light every time an on
camera flash was fired. That eliminated the typical
harshness of flash, and it also made it easy to sit in
one corner and use a zoom to pick out interesting
compositions.

Flash works best if the ceiling and walls are bright.
And I would not do multiple flash units if others will
be taking pictures...

Usually I use an external flash mounted on the camera,
pointed straight up and with a regular sheet of white
paper wrapped around it and held with a rubber band.
Two small cuts on the side and a slight bend at the mid
point to angle the top half, above the flash, at 20-30
degrees makes a good enough diffusor. Again, it helps
to have ceilings that are low and highly reflective.

I also power the flash with an external (Quantum)
battery pack, and use a tripod as much as possible.

--
Floyd L. Davidson http://www.apaflo.com/floyd_davidson
Ukpeagvik (Barrow, Alaska)
  #7  
Old July 24th 07, 08:41 PM posted to rec.photo.digital.slr-systems
Paul Furman
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 7,367
Default Low light group event portrait

Peter Chant wrote:
Paul Furman wrote:

I've been asked to photograph a company retirement party (paid) which
will be about 20 people in a restaurant under candlelight at a few
tables. I've agreed to do it but warned them that's really extraordinary
shooting conditions. I have a 50mm f/1.2 but that's too long for most


Could be a lack of technique and skill on my part (and I am definitely not
pro or intend to be) but under similar conditions, candlelight and v dim
tungsten I've not managed to get many usable shots using Delta 3200 with a
28mm f2.8 hand held (Ricoh GR1v). Those that I do get are v grany and not
that sharp - not necessarily blurred, but not sharp.


That's pretty much what I'm expecting, and hope I don't mess something
up but I've done tons of low light nature & street shooting so it should
be OK. I can do 3200 on this camera though it's really just a pushed 1600.

Others may have had more success.



--
Paul Furman Photography
http://www.edgehill.net/1
Bay Natives Nursery
http://www.baynatives.com
  #8  
Old July 24th 07, 09:40 PM posted to rec.photo.digital.slr-systems,rec.photo.equipment.35mm
Bates[_2_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 46
Default Low light group event portrait

On Jul 24, 1:42 pm, Paul Furman wrote:
I've been asked to photograph a company retirement party (paid) which
will be about 20 people in a restaurant under candlelight at a few
tables. I've agreed to do it but warned them that's really extraordinary
shooting conditions. I have a 50mm f/1.2 but that's too long for most
cases on crop frame D200, otherwise I have f/2 lenses at 28mm & 35mm and
a 20mm f/2.8 AF though that starts getting so wide it distorts the
people at the edges. Even a 10.5mm f/2.8 fisheye :-)

I suggested maybe turn on the lights for a few more formal group shots,
they don't seem to be planning to do any big prints, just wanting the
digital files for web or probably a small print in a corporate
newsletter or some such.

I don't have or know how to use external flash though I could try
reflecting the onboard flash with a white card at the ceiling.

I figure I'll do a custom WB setting and I'll bring a tripod though I
doubt that'll be useful for most of the candids. Maybe the 70-200/2.8 VR
could be tried for the VR at 70mm & further back for more candid stuff,
less of the photog in your face.

I probably should bring my laptop to check how it's working after the
first bit.

Any other suggestions? Should I back out & tell them to hire someone
else with flash because this is a hopeless assignment? I enjoy low light
shooting but this will be really rough.

Here's some examples with the 50mm f/1.2:
http://www.edgehill.net/1/?SC=go.php&DIR=2_human-world/4-People&PG=1&...
Click for enlargement.
The previous shot is soft due to the 1/3 second shutter speed:
http://www.edgehill.net/1/?SC=go.php&DIR=2_human-world/4-People&PG=1&...
This one shows the depth of field better (click for enlargement)
http://www.edgehill.net/1/Misc/photography/bokeh/2007-04-03-50mm1.2/_...
though that'll be less extreme in a wider group view.

--
Paul Furman Photographyhttp://www.edgehill.net/1
Bay Natives Nurseryhttp://www.baynatives.com



Paul,

I'm not even close to a professional but I have shot a few weddings in
very low light - some of them in cases where flashes were not
allowed. I would have suggested the 1.2 50mm but the crop factor may
be a bit of a problem - I was shooting film at the time with my
Minolta and an F1.4 50mm that saved me. I'd suggest maybe trying a
monopod rather than a tripod since it will be easier to move around as
long as you think you can keep the shutter speed in the 1/15 or 1/30
range.

Of course a flash is going to be a big help here as well as you
mentioned.

The only other thing is that you may want to shoot RAW as you can
adjust the WB after the fact that way and not have to worry about it
too much during shooting. Otherwise you may find yourself switching
back and forth between a tungsten type setting and a flash setting
depending on how you are shooting.

My best advice (and what I did for the wedding I spoke of) - see if
you can get in the place and take a few test shots (bring a friend as
a model) and see what works best.

I would not back out - you warned them. Have fun with it. Worse case
scenario just fire away with the flash - get some candid shots and it
should work out well.

Bates.....

  #9  
Old July 24th 07, 09:52 PM posted to rec.photo.digital.slr-systems,rec.photo.equipment.35mm
Annika1980
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 4,898
Default Low light group event portrait

On Jul 24, 1:42 pm, Paul Furman wrote:
I've been asked to photograph a company retirement party (paid) which
will be about 20 people in a restaurant under candlelight at a few
tables. I've agreed to do it but warned them that's really extraordinary
shooting conditions. I have a 50mm f/1.2 but that's too long for most
cases on crop frame D200, otherwise I have f/2 lenses at 28mm & 35mm and
a 20mm f/2.8 AF though that starts getting so wide it distorts the
people at the edges. Even a 10.5mm f/2.8 fisheye :-)



Sounds like you need the excellent high-ISO capabilities of a Canon.
That old Nikon just ain't gonna get her done.

  #10  
Old July 24th 07, 10:13 PM posted to rec.photo.digital.slr-systems,rec.photo.equipment.35mm
Paul Furman
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 7,367
Default Low light group event portrait

Floyd L. Davidson wrote:

Paul Furman wrote:

I don't have or know how to use external flash though I
could try reflecting the onboard flash with a white card
at the ceiling.


Any other suggestions? Should I back out & tell them to
hire someone else with flash because this is a hopeless
assignment? I enjoy low light shooting but this will be
really rough.


I think there are two options, obtain an external flash
or backout of it.

I shoot parties and many many random bits of life in one
local restaurant (located literally across the road, and
I use it as my living room), and have often done parties
at another.


I appreciate & respect your experienced opinion but would you do that
for $300? I could rent some flashes but that also seems awfully
distracting to the group.

A lot depends on the particular restaurant. How evenly
lit it is, how large the room is, how high the ceiling
is, and what color the walls and ceiling are.


I was told they'd have 'many' candles... and I assume there is at least
some dim overhead light but who knows....

....OK I looked into it & it's a private banquet room with windows &
venetian blinds and it starts at 5:30 so there'll be plenty of light &
the candles are kind of redundant at that time unless the blinds are
closed. This isn't the room but:
http://www.sharpparkgc.com/pg/photos/sharp_park_golf_course/picture273.aspx
I suppose I should drop by & look but it doesn't sound like a dark room.

Thanks for your suggestions!

But invariably it comes down to how to set up a flash,
because there simply is no other way. (Restaurants are
probably the only place where I routinely use flash as a
main light.)

Certain tables might have enough light, or might have
light at certain times of the day and not at other
times. That is useful for my purposes, but probably not
for your assignment.

One trick I've used for parties is to set up three
different flash units, each with an optical trigger, in
the corners of the room at ceiling height. It basically
dowsed the entire room with light every time an on
camera flash was fired. That eliminated the typical
harshness of flash, and it also made it easy to sit in
one corner and use a zoom to pick out interesting
compositions.

Flash works best if the ceiling and walls are bright.
And I would not do multiple flash units if others will
be taking pictures...

Usually I use an external flash mounted on the camera,
pointed straight up and with a regular sheet of white
paper wrapped around it and held with a rubber band.
Two small cuts on the side and a slight bend at the mid
point to angle the top half, above the flash, at 20-30
degrees makes a good enough diffusor. Again, it helps
to have ceilings that are low and highly reflective.

I also power the flash with an external (Quantum)
battery pack, and use a tripod as much as possible.



--
Paul Furman Photography
http://www.edgehill.net/1
Bay Natives Nursery
http://www.baynatives.com
 




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