Shooting Indoors - Bar Scene

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by DRGinLBC, Feb 3, 2010.

  1. DRGinLBC

    DRGinLBC TPF Noob!

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    Equipment:
    Canon Rebel XSi

    Lenses:
    Canon 50mm 1.4f
    Canon 18-55mm

    Flash:
    Canon Speedlite 430EX II
    Sto-Fen omni bounce diffuser


    Situation:

    Headed to Santa Rosa, CA this weekend for the release of Pliny the Younger (Russian River Brewing). Planned on taking some pictures while there. I'm an amateur when it comes to photography...but understand the basics/moderate settings.

    I was curious if anyone could help me with proper camera settings when shooting in a bar/indoor situation. Wanted to take some good pictures of friends/scene/beers while there. Can anyone help me with settings I should use for these type of situations? I tried my hand using the 50mm at a brewery in Marin, CA a few months back...but it seemed all my shots came out dark (didn't use a flash). I figured that lens could gobble up light without it. I just got that lens for X-mas so maybe I need more lessons with it.

    Any help with settings to "start with" would be greatly appreciated.

    Look forward to using these forums in the near future for help!
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    Welcome to the forum.

    What I would do in that situation, would be to use the flash and put the camera into Manual mode.

    I'd suggest using the 50mm lens because it will make focusing easier, but you may want to use the zoom lens to get wider shots at times.

    I'd set the aperture for the DOF I wanted. Maybe something like F2.8 to F5.6. I'd set the shutter speed for the amount of ambient (background) exposure I wanted. The longer the shutter speed, the more ambient you get.
    For example, if you set the shutter speed at the max sync speed of the camera (probably 1/200), then you will likely get shots that look like your subject is in a dark cave (especially if you aim the flash right at them). But if you use a shutter speed of 1/30, you are more likely to get the ambient room lighting to show up. You would normally get motion blur at slower speeds...but the flash can help to freeze the movement of your subject. It's a balance and you'll have to experiment to find the shutter speed that works for you.
    I set the ISO higher to get more ambient, and so the flash doesn't have to work so hard...but you don't want to go so high that the images have a lot of digital noise. ISO 400 might be a good balance.

    How you use the flash, will likely depends on the location. If you can bounce it off of the ceiling or walls, then go for it. It will give you a softer, more directionally light and can also help to light the scene...but it may also pick up the colors of the surface and give a tinge to your subjects. Play with it and see what works.
     
  3. flightless_beaker

    flightless_beaker TPF Noob!

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    I second using the 50. The problem you may have had the last time is you either set the shutter speed too high, the aperture on a higher number or your ISO number was set too low. What mode do you usually shoot on?
     
  4. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    It almost always helps to start with the photography, and to leave the beers until later in the session. Let your friend, no--make that "encourage your friends" to down a few pints of beer while you stick to soda or H20 for a while, and that'll get them relaxed and less-worried about the camera.

    I have not been to that bar; if it's dark, a fast lens like an f/1.4 will help you to shoot without flash, but you need to shoot from 10-15-20 feet away on a 1.6x body to get "scenes". A 50mm lens on a 1.6x body is a pretty tight, narrow-angle of view lens.

    I keep telling myself that some day, I will buy the Sigma 24mm f/1.8 lens as a high-speed, short, indoor, low-light lens....I can't see my way clear to paying $1800 or whatever for Canon's 24mm f/1.4-L for the limited uses.

    One option is to use the kit lens, which will allow you to shoot some flash exposures, and still be at "normal" distances at the shorter end of the zoom range. You'll probably need a touch of flash, since the 18-55 is slowish, and at closer ranges you want/need to have the lens aperture closed down to f/5.6 or so in order to get enough depth of field to encompass social setting 'scenes'. What I mean is you can easily get a shot of a Pilsner glass full of beer on the table into adequate focus, but you cannot bridge a three-foot or 10-foot deep scene with good focus all the way unless you are reasonably far away from the scene.

    Then again, being in California--maybe the place has good window or sky light lighting and at ISO 800 you'd be able to shoot with the 18-55 without the flash and count on IS to stop camera movement. I think you'd find that in most bars, shooting with flash and a big camera makes you feel like, well, a wet blanket. Got a pocket digicam???
     
  5. nanhi

    nanhi TPF Noob!

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    Hi DR, some hint on flashless Bar / Pub Photos with a lot of smoke and din. I have shot some very candid photos in pubs in Scotland.
    1) use the fastest wide angle lens you can afford. I had a Pentax FA 24/2 AL on my Pentax K20D DSLR.
    2) set ISO to 800 - the limit for low noise photography under low light.
    3) pub owner a war vetran like me - pally pally - so asked him to switch on all lights and exhausts. Warm yellowish light so set the camera for tungsten.
    4) used manual mode with lens set to f2 and speed 1/15 sec. Camera on a tripod. Bracketed 3 shots.
    5) increased in camera setting for saturation to +2, decreased sharpness to 0 to minimise noise.
    6) use matrix metering.
    7) shake reduction OFF.
    8) set Jpeg quality and sensor mega-pixel to the highest. Note: best to use RAW as you can then "play" with the image in photoshop.
    9) used layers in photoshop to minimise the smoke haze effect.
    Vow got some winners.
    Good luck next time.
    Nanhi
     

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