Water over ny head? Shooting portraits at a christmas ball for teens.

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Thalion, Dec 3, 2017.

  1. Thalion

    Thalion TPF Noob!

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    My son's class is arranging this year's christmas ball, and I have agreed to be their photographer. The idea is that I'll be stationed "somewhere" and the teens will come to me. Which is fine, cause it means the conditions will be more or less constant. I don't yet know how this somewhere will look, and it's lightning conditions, but that isn' t my biggest consern.

    That would be that if I mess up these pictures, all the teens will be pretty disappointed. Before I go on I should admit that the only requirement for this assignment was to own something slightly better than a phone to take the pictures with. But still...

    Anyways, what I have is a Canon Eos 1100d (rebel t3) and a Yongnuo yn565ex ii speedlight. The speedlight is brand new, and I haven't had the chance to learn to use it yet. Two weeks to go to learn the basics... I also have a tripod, and a cabeled remote for the camera. I don't have a trigger for the speedlight, but it can be triggered by the on-camera flash. I have a few different lenses, but I think I will be using my Sigma 17-50 2.8, as I expect to shoot small groups as well as couples and singles.

    What I am considering is to mount the speedlight on the tripod, and shoot handheld. I hope to be able to bounce the light, but may buy or make something softbox'ish. But I am really uncertain about what settings I should use. Both aperture, shutterspeed, flash output... Everything, really. Or should I even use another setup? Will the on camera flash required to set off the speedlight really mess up the lightning, or will it be so weak in comparison that it'll only behave like a fill-in? And I'm really worried about not getting the focus fight!

    Any sort of advice appreciated.

    (By the way, does anyone know... If I were to buy a trigger for my speedlight, will I need one for the camera and one for the flash? Or will just the one for the camera do? The user's manual was a little unclear for a flash-noob....)


     
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    One speedlight ought to be plenty with the camera's ISO value set to 320 or 400, and the flash operating at full power.

    Have the flash set up on the LEFT side of the camera and coming in at approximately 30 degrees of an angle,so the light comes from above the head height on the left, and slants downward somewhat and to the right, which is, subconsciously, the preferred light source direction.Seriously. You do not really "need" fill light, in my opinion, just one flash ought to light the people in couples or in small groups.

    My concern is the flash placement: a height of about eight to nine feet would be my preference, and I do not think a tripod will give you that much flash height.

    I would try for an aperture value of f/6.3 or f/7.1, with the camera in Manual mode, and the shutter speed left at a fixed speed, of say 1/60 to 1/125 second, somewhere in that range.

    Consider something like a Rogue Flashbender as an option to an umbrella or softbox...easy to use, and gives a broad enough light source yet with a slight bit of directionality to the light that will create dimension on the people.

    Keep in mind: MOST of the couples should be shot with the camera in the TALL orientation, to show off their clothing! Please keep that in mind: dance and prom photos typically should be full length, tall shots.

    It's always tricky giving advice to people who are undertaking something new and are not practiced in the type of even they're going to do, but the above is my advice. If you buy a Rogue Flashbender, I would be tempted to tell you to simply put it on-camera, and shoot with flash right in the hotshoe...this is NOT that "bad" of a look, and these days, people are used to that aesthetic.

    Others might tell you to use the flash differently, but that's my advice for a first-time shooter of this kind of an event.
     
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  3. weepete

    weepete TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Looks like you'll need a transmitter and a reciever for that flash, usually a cable to connect the shutter release to the camaera too, if you go down the road of radio transmitters. Yonguno do a few different types, I have the RF603C which I like but they are manual only. Need the RF622Cs if you want to keep ttl metering.

    Try these links for good advice on flash photography.
    Strobist: Lighting 101: Introduction

    Strobist: Lighting 102: Introduction
     
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  4. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Some things I just thought of, and not necessarily in order of importance or usefulness:

    The light: If this is in a school gymnasium with HPS or MV lighting, you're going to play heck getting the colors to look right. I think you would set your white balance to (?) fluorescent maybe? and hope for the best. Use a fast shutter to eliminate most of the ambient lighting, and if your test shots show nothing at all in them, then the WB might not matter, and you can leave it set to "flash".

    Your built-in flash should be set to fairly low power so that it will act as a fill light.

    Try to (as you say) make something "soft-boxy" for the flash to shine through.

    Try to get it up at least 10 feet above the floor or even 12 to 13 feet would not hurt a thing. Kind of pointing down toward the subjects. Make sure you test this arrangement to make sure it will work in real life. You might have to bring a long stick to hold the flash up high enough. Lots of tape to get it to stay put. Have some highly-visible signage/poster board or a big guy with a stick to guard this construct from people walking into it/tripping over the legs, and knocking it over.

    Bring some painter's tape to make lines/boxes on the floor to guide people to stand in/or toe the mark.

    Personally, I would probably mount the camera on the tripod, and make/purchase a light stand. You're going to need one someday anyway, so go ahead and get it now. Get a softbox too.

    The reason I would want the camera on the tripod is two-fold; 1.) by pre-aiming the camera and keeping it at the right height, your photographs will be more uniform in coverage and style. Use your cable release. 2.) By mounting your camera on the tripod, you will have one less thing to carry around and possibly drop. Leaving your hands empty is a good thing to help direct your subjects.
     
  5. Dave442

    Dave442 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I often do both, flash on a stand and flash on the camera. For this reason I think you should go prepared in the use of the flash so you can switch between both situations and be able to make the adjustments. A good thing to know is how to do a reset of the flash and then from there get to the settings you want to use.

    I have a couple Yongnuo units I use off camera and control them with a wireless unit on the camera. Your flash might require a receiver if you want to use wireless, but mine also work just fine when triggered by the camera flash (can set to lowest power). Then I often take the flash units and put one on each camera - one with the Rouge FlashBender (I have the smallest version) and the other just popping up the white card included in the flash head.

    When I had a camera brand flash I used TTL frequently, with the Yongnuo I use manual flash setting all the time. My general starting point with flash on-camera is 1/125th (slower if you want more ambient light), f/5.6 (don't shoot with open at f/2.8 as you want some DOF), ISO 400, flash at 1/8 power, take a shot and adjust and another shot to check. I don't go to full power very often with my Yongnuo units as the manual noted that extended use at full power shortens the life of the unit. I take a couple extra sets of charged up AA's for the flashes.

    Remember -
    With flash the shutter speed is not going to affect the percent of exposure supplied by the flash. If you shoot in a dark room then 1/15th of a second or 1/200th of a second will give you the same exposure as the flash is supplying all the light.

    The inverse square law - no you don't have to remember it. But, this is why it usually helps to bounce the light off a ceiling or wall when the flash is on the camera - as it usually means there is less difference from shot to shot between the reflected surface and the subject. If you have the flash on a stand and an X on floor, then the people are always the same distance away from it and you can move back and forth with the camera and the amount of light supplied on your subjects is always the same.
     
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  6. Thalion

    Thalion TPF Noob!

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    These are great answers, thank you all very much!

    I think I will buy the small flashbender, and just mount it in the hotshoe, like Derrel suggested. After all, these are 13-15 years old, and just wanted something a little better than a phone camera.

    But as most, or maybe all, photos will be shot in the tall orientation; is this ok with the flash and flashbender in the hotshoe?

    Oh yes, and at what distance is it recommended to put the teens from the flash?
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
  7. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    With your speedlight in the hotshoe, and turning the camera to "portrait" orientation, the light will be coming from one side of the lens. Not terrible, just different.

    As for distance; simply frame your subjects normally with whatever focal length lens you will be using, and adjust the flash power or aperture to get good exposures. As I wrote earlier, a fairly fast shutter speed will cut down on ambient light, for good or bad, and the exposure will be governed by a combination of the flash power and aperture.

    With the flash on camera, you won't get "modeling light", but the light will be rather flat, so don't expect miracles.
     
  8. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    one trick I've seen wedding photographers do is when bouncing with a flash, they aim it normally back and to the right. If they need to shoot portrait orientation, the flash is now pointing back and to the left.

    My Nikon Sb-700 can orientate in this manner, my youngnuo and neeewer flashes cannot.
     
  9. SCraig

    SCraig Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Might want to consider what you're going to use for a backdrop and/or background as well.
     
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  10. Thalion

    Thalion TPF Noob!

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    Ok, so I'm caving in. :) I have ordered the small flashbender softbox kit and a light stand that goes up to 280 cm. Now I hope for a quick delivery so I can get the time to practice before the event.

    Thank you all again for the advices. :D
     
  11. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Practice, practice, practice! Know what you're going to do before you get there. If focusing is a concern then set up at about the distance you expect for that night and practice that til you can nail the focus consistently.

    Then GO EARLY. Way early. Get set up and do some practice shots (of something, maybe a chair?). Do some test shots and see if you need to make any adjustments with lighting or placement of the background or your set up. Once the kids are there this could move along quickly so if you're prepared ahead that could help.

    If you can, I'd ask if you can come in and look at the gym or wherever this will be set up. Can you find out where they'll have you set up for picture taking? Maybe do a few quick test shots if possible.

    edit - School gyms can be lousy lighting, but I was doing sports where it wasn't possible to fire off a flash at floor/ice level. Just get familiar with your equipment as best you can; this is sort of like cramming for a test! lol
     

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