how to shoot a parade at night

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by rubbertree, Nov 5, 2008.

  1. rubbertree

    rubbertree TPF Noob!

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    I have an event coming up that I'm starting to prepare for and would like your advice.
    It will be a night Christmas parade, 5:30 in the evening in December. It will be pitch black by then. This is the scenario:
    Very small town, shops with lights on one side of the street, not much on the other. The trees going down the middle of the street will have Christmas lights on them.
    I do not have an external flash, only what's available with my Nikon D80. However, I do have a SB-600 sitting in my shopping cart at Vistek right this moment. Checkout now? hehe!
    I cannot set up strobes or other lights, I need to be able to move freely around.
    Should I set up on the side of the street with no lights, facing the other side of the street with the shops and lights? That would give some background lighting? Or should I set up on the side of the street that has the shops and lights, and use that light as ambient lighting?
    How do you meter for light at night? If I face the shops, do I meter for the light coming off them and then use the flash to fill in the parade?
    Lenses are listed in my siggie, what lens would you use?
    I appreciate your help!
     
  2. fightin14

    fightin14 TPF Noob!

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    I would say the 1.8 or the 2.8 just because they are faster but someone with more knowledge can enlighten both of us.
     
  3. fightin14

    fightin14 TPF Noob!

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    Also go test it out if you can prior to the parade.
     
  4. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I'd suggest the 1.8 as well; crank you ISO up to 800 or higher, and keep reviewing your shots. As was suggested, try and scout out the location ahead of time, do some test shots of the area just to see what your exposures are like.
     
  5. Chris Stegner

    Chris Stegner TPF Noob!

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    Not sure how the D80 is but my Canon 5D is pretty nice to me at 1600ISO. If you're not going with large prints you might try it with available light and go to 1600?
     
  6. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Practice, practice, practice!!!
     
  7. rubbertree

    rubbertree TPF Noob!

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    location scouting has already been done, I live in this town so know the area and it's only one street, there are only a few locations to chose from!
    I will be practicing ahead of time, once the Christmas lights go up on the trees so I can determine what the lighting will be.
    D80 is not kind at an ISO of 1600. But I know that upping the ISO will be necessary. I am considering buying noise reduction software.
    a f/1.8 I risk having such a shallow depth of field though. I would need much more depth to capture the parade?
    I'm nervous about the flash, having never used an external before. That's why I'm getting it now, so I can get some practice in.
     
  8. rubbertree

    rubbertree TPF Noob!

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    oh yes, and my other issue is that while of course I will go out there to practice with the available lighting and the new flash, I cannot recreate the floats and lighting that may be coming off them so worry about how accurate I can even predict the scene to be.
     
  9. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Learn to understand depth of field. An aperture of F/1.8 is no guarantee of a shallow DOF. Yes it is shallower than F/8, but once you understand how it works, you can use this knowledge to your advantage and get a DOF measured in feet instead of centimeters at large apertures.

    Noise reduction software: Imagenomic's Noiseware Pro is the best on the market currently, but if you play your cards right, learn how to expose properly, you can minimize noise in your camera, even at high ISO and reduce your need for noise reduction levels that destroy detail.

    D200's are not known for being clean at ISO 1600 (no cleaner than your D80), but this level of low noise is what you can achieve with the right knowledge and practice:

    ISO 1600:
    [​IMG]

    The Zone System (google it)... learn the version for digital cameras, practice it, perfect it... it will help you to:
    1 - know what to meter for in the current conditions
    2 - how to meter for in the current conditions

    Read "Understanding Exposure" by Bryon Peterson (its a book). That also will add to your final results if you use the info in that book properly.

    I used to be concerned with high ISO noise in low light. Between understanding what to meter on, how to properly expose and a good noise reduction software, it's just basically not an issue anymore.

    Having the camera in manual or aperture priority will likely give you best results when you understand what you are doing. With practice, even if the conditions are not exactly the same at the event as when you are practicing, you have to learn to compensate and adjust. Not only will conditions differ from night to night, but on the same night... from picture to picture!

    Flash... in wide, large areas, a flash will hurt more than it will hinder. Learn how to take advantage of ambient light and learn how to control your light when you want to focus on a smaller area. In those conditions when it's just not enough, do not use a flash to light your scene, consider it as a low powered filler, giving you just enough to let you get the shot, a little oumph to add a tiny punch to a picture, nothing more. That way you are also not using the flash on full power, trying to uselessly light the street 50 feet away from you.

    Again... practice, practice, practice!
     
  10. rubbertree

    rubbertree TPF Noob!

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    Learn to understand depth of field. An aperture of F/1.8 is no guarantee of a shallow DOF. Yes it is shallower than F/8, but once you understand how it works, you can use this knowledge to your advantage and get a DOF measured in feet instead of centimeters at large apertures. [/quote]

    How??? Teach me! I have practiced an ran test shot after test shot with the 50mm f/1.8 and cannot get a depth of field measured in feet at 1.8. How do you achieve that?

    even at night? Night always shows the noise so much worse.
    Off to google Zone System, thanks for that. Yes, I have the BP book and understand exposure and how to meter, I've just never done an event at night and am uncertain of the conditions.

    I am reading as much as I can on the flash as well, I know not to use it full power but just to add a bit of additional light. I hope it gets here quick so I have plenty of time to practice with it. I'll be reading strobist for the next few weeks.

    Thank you.
     
  11. fightin14

    fightin14 TPF Noob!

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    I have a d200 and the noise at 1600 is quite bad IMO. I don't like going higher than 1000.
     
  12. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You did not listen to me. I said LEARN about DOF and how it works, after that, the answer to that will be obvious.

    Question: Why is my DOF at F/1.8 less than a centimeter in this shot:

    [​IMG]

    But several inches in this shot at a bigger aperture of F/1.4? (taken using the SAME lens and camera):
    [​IMG]

    Once you understand how DOF works, you can answer that question.

    Don't expect the impossible unless you have a D700 or D3 (lol)... you will always get some noise with your setup. I did not say you could eliminate it 100%, I said that if you hit the exposure on the head, it will be drastically reduced. That works in the day as well as at night... but the differences are more noticeable in night or low light shots.

    You're doing well, don't stop studying and practicing!
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2008

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