Help with Smoky Environments?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by simnine, Mar 15, 2005.

  1. simnine

    simnine TPF Noob!

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    I occasionally find myself in a bar taking pictures of the bands performing and I have had the issue of the smoke reflecting alot of light back resulting in a low contrast image. Is there any way around this or any way to reduce this effect. I was thinking of using a polarizer, but I'd like to hear from people who have dealt with this issue before I blow alot of shots on a hunch.
     
  2. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    I don't think a polarizer will help you, and it'll suck up 2 valuable stops of light in the low light situations. You just have to come up with a way of making the smoke part of the image.
     
  3. Kent Frost

    Kent Frost TPF Noob!

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    I have this problem a lot as well, but typically it's because the nimrods running the party have this tendency to overshoot the fog machine, so I hear where you're coming from. The best thing to do, if you have a flash attachment, is to swivel the flash head and bounce the flash off of something, like the ceiling, the wall, someone with a white shirt, or even your hand. The problem lies in the flash being so direct. You'll also find that your pictures will gain a certain depth when the shadows are coming from one of those sides instead of straight-on.

    If your flash is built-in, believe it or not, you can use a small handheld vanity mirror (make sure it's clean!) to point the flash elsewhere. It's a bit awkward, but it's well worth the effort.
     
  4. simnine

    simnine TPF Noob!

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    :) I'll have to give the bounce flash a try. only problem is finding something to bounce it from. Most bars I have been in have black ceilings. I'll just keep trying stuff.
     
  5. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    Matt is right. A polariser will make no difference. Fog, mist and smoke do not polarise light but scatter it (scattering longer wavelengths most which is why smoke and stuff usually has a blue cast).
    You have to see smoke as being the same as fog.
    Direct flash will bounce off causing flare and reducing contrast.
    Kent has a much better idea with an off-camera flash.
    You want to avoid light sources that come from the same side as the camera. Light coming from overhead is best.
    I'd go with Matt. It's easier to use a problem to your advantage than to try and get rid of it. Besides, the smoke is part of the atmosphere and can provide mood.
     
  6. Rob

    Rob TPF Noob!

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    I tend to use a higher ISO film (sometimes a tripod) and avoid flash. As has been covered above, you'll find that a bright flash will disperse into a cloud and you'll get a great picture of smoke, with no band in evidence. 1600 or 3200 ISO will usually do most situations, and you can overclock most of the grainy films as well.

    Tripods aren't really practical at most gigs, but a mono-pod and 400 film is usually acceptable.

    Personally, I load my Contax T2 with T-Max 3200 and get the benefit of discretion and not worrying about a big kit bag. You can then have a beer and enjoy the concert!!

    Rob
     

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