Photographing people in front of an aquarium

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by crewsypix, Nov 24, 2008.

  1. crewsypix

    crewsypix TPF Noob!

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    I have an event coming up and need some advice. I have to photograph people in front of an aquarium. This is what I already know. The room will be dark with black ceilings so I cannot bounce light off the ceiling. I will be using studio lights at an angle of the people and the tank to avoid glare from the strobes. I know I have to match the ambiance of the tank to the studio lights and shoot on manual. The lighting in the tank is minimal and can get a decent photograph of the tank at 400 ISO, 1/60th at 5.6 f-stop. I have photographs of what I shot on my meeting day with my on camera flash.
    I cannot do test shots before the date with studio lights but I can do them hours before the event. The company will let me shoot on a background if I cannot shoot the people in front of the tank so I am covered there. I do not know yet if I can add a light high above the tank to light the tank and if I do, it will have to be lit from the outside of the glass and not outside above the water.
    This will be a corporate event and we will be photographing around 150-250 couples in about 4-5 hours and printing their photographs on site.
    I would like to go prepared for anything so any advice would be appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Cindy Crews
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    It sounds like you have a pretty good idea of what you are doing.

    If you know what exposure you need for the tank to look good, then just set your lights to match that on the subjects and you should be good to go. It might give some cool effects to light the tank from above, but I'd think that will need to be tested first.

    Either way, it hopefully won't take long to test a few things and get your gear all set. After that, it sounds like it might be a whole lot of the same thing...with people moving through like a production line.
     
  3. jcolman

    jcolman TPF Noob!

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    Cindy,
    You already know what exposure you need to set your studio lights. Good job of pre-production planning.

    The biggest problem you'll have is keeping reflections/glare off the tank. I would set two lights on either side of the tank and flag them so that no light hits the tank. Set your people in front of the tank and use these side lights as your key lights. Then add some fill light from above the camera with a softbox with the light tilting down to avoid reflections.
     
  4. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Not too high... maybe a height equal to the tallest person plus 6-12 inches and GOBO the light so that it hits the people and not the glass. Also, in this case, I would suggest a longer shutter duration (1/30th-1/60th instead of maximum sync speed) so that:

    - You do not introduce dark rings under their eyes, foreheads, cheeks and other facial ridges.
    - less flash power is needed reducing specular highlights
    - more of the ambient light burns in, exposing the aquarium behind them.
    - note: If room permits, get your group to stand 5-10 feet away from the glass wall. The further, the better and less chance light will hit it, killing the shot's main effect.

    The big balancing act will be aperture. Too little and background blurs. Too much and background darkens. Increasing shutter speed helps, but there is only so slow you can get before you introduce motion blur.

    Tripod, tripod, tripod! ;)

    The less flash you use in the front, in this case.. the better. But you *will* need some front fill for sure.
     

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