Proposal photography under the fireworks | Need lighting guidance (in the dark)

Discussion in 'People Photography' started by JeremyD, Jul 10, 2014.

  1. JeremyD

    JeremyD No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Greetings everyone!

    I have created my own 'niche' in my local market capturing proposals in Niagara falls under the fireworks. I was lucky with my first proposal because it was in the winter and the snow acted like a reflector and lit up the scene with beautiful colours and reflections of the fireworks. However when the season changed I am faced with new low light challenges that I love to encounter.

    Here are the settings I am using for most of these photographs. I am using my lowest aperture ( 1.8 ) with my 50mm prime and manual focusing the whole time. Since the proposals are at night my manual focus doesn't work in these circumstances. Since I have a full frame camera (5Dmkii) I am able to bump up my ISO so typically I am using 1600 to 3200 depending on how much light I have in the scene, my clients don't typically care about the noise since I reduce it a lot and it is in the contract that the photographs will not be tack sharp because of the situation they are putting me in.

    When it comes to capturing the photographs with the fireworks I am using ambient light only expect for picture #99. I have done three proposals now, the first time I only used ambient light, the second time I used ambient light for the firework scene then for the creatives I used my YN-560iii flashes with my pocket wizards and put them in bushes and on ledges and bounced it off the floor or used it as direct flash. The third time I actually brought light stands which really aloud me to get creative and have a unique style with a dramatic look.

    Here are some shots from my first proposal:

    #1
    [​IMG]Niagara-Falls-Fireworks-Proposal-Engagement-Photography by JeremyDalyPhotography, on Flickr

    #2
    [​IMG]Niagara-Falls-Proposal-Walk-Photography-Jeremy-Daly by JeremyDalyPhotography, on Flickr

    #3
    [​IMG]Fireworks-Niagara-Falls-Proposal-Engagement by JeremyDalyPhotography, on Flickr#4


    Here are some shots from my second proposal:

    #4 (Ignore the right image, its not in focus..But I really like the left image)
    [​IMG]Romantic-Proposal-Niagara-Falls-Fireworks-on-the-maid-of-mist-cruise-night-love by JeremyDalyPhotography, on Flickr

    #5 This scene has ZERO light, so I have a flash in the push to the left and bounced it off the ground, which gave it some cool shadows on the wall. Next time I might add two for symmetrical shadows)
    [​IMG]Niagara-Fallsview-Casino-Resort-Engagement-photography-proposal-wedding-jeremy-daly-fireworks- by JeremyDalyPhotography, on Flickr

    #6 I had a flash on a ledge bouncing off the ground, I am not keen of the composition but I like the scene of the falls in the background and the dramatic sky. For this shot I used the flash to freeze the subjects, then I used a slow shutter speed ( around 1/40th) to capture the ambient light of the background.
    [​IMG]Proposal-Engagement-Niagara-Falls-Photography-Garden-attractions-hotels-locations-USA-Canada by JeremyDalyPhotography, on Flickr

    #7
    [​IMG]Niagara-Falls-engagement-peace-love-happyness-joy-Jeremy-Daly-Wedding-Photography-Ontario-Canada-USA by JeremyDalyPhotography, on Flickr

    Here are some shots from my third proposal: I brought my own light stand for this one which aloud me to get creative

    #8
    [​IMG]Niagara-Falls-Romantic-Proposa-July-4th-fireworks-photography by JeremyDalyPhotography, on Flickr

    #9
    [​IMG]Niagara-Falls-Proposa-Engagement-Wedding-Photography-Ontario-Toronto-Videography-JeremyDaly-Fireworks-tourist-activities-magazine by JeremyDalyPhotography, on Flickr

    #10
    [​IMG]Niagara-Falls-Fireworks-Proposal-Egagement-Photography-Weddings-Magazine-bridal-creative-commercial-photography-jeremydaly by JeremyDalyPhotography, on Flickr
    #11
    [​IMG]Niagara-Falls--Sheraton-on-the-falls-hotel-Garden-Hard-rock-cafe-proposa-fireworks-canada-day-photography by JeremyDalyPhotography, on Flickr

    #12 With this image I had my light stand behind them to get a highlight around them, then I had another flash just on a rock bouncing off the ground to make the scene glow. Now keep in mind there was ZERO lighting in this scene without my flashes, I couldn't even see them through my viewfinder trying to focus on them..
    [​IMG]Niagara-Falls-Romantic-Fireworks-Proposal-Independance-Day-Canada-celebreation-love-engagement-weddings-magazine-bridal-jeremydaly by JeremyDalyPhotography, on Flickr


    Keep in mind that in most of these situations I had very little light and I could barely see them in my view finder so I was manual focusing the whole time and taking as many images hoping they are in focus.

    I also produced a highlight video for the first two proposals, here is one from the second proposal:



    So here is my questions to TFP community, I am trying to make a new system of how to capture these proposals so I can get more images in focus with a creative spin. I was wondering if there where any tricks and tips on focusing on subjects in the pitch black ? I was thinking perhaps after the proposal during the creatives I could give the client a little flash light to shine at me before we do a series of images at a scene then I can manual focus on the flashlight then ask him to turn it off then capture away as I guide them in some poses... But I am open to new ideas!

    Also if you have anything in mind of how I could capture these images in a better way that would be very helpful! I am the only photographer in the area ( I live 1 hour and a half away from Niagara Falls) that is willing to do these shoots. My clients have asked other Niagara Falls photographers but they all back out since it is such a difficult lighting situation.. But now I have created my own niche in the market and I am getting more bookings from keeping up on my SEO and such.

    My next proposal is next Friday and I will be bringing two light stands and some flashes with pocket wizards. I will also going to bring a little flash light for the couple to hold during the creative part of the shoot.

    Personally I love doing these shoots since it gives me a big challenge to produce light in the dark, and it is fun to get creative! For the whole gallery of these proposals feel free to visit my main website at Jeremy Daly Photography or my blog at www.jeremydalyphoto.com/blog

    Any feedback on the images would be cool, on a technical point I know they are not all in focus, or tack sharp, and other flaws due to the low light situation. Just feedback of how to make the next shoot more successful would be awesome!


     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 11, 2014
  2. Sherm

    Sherm TPF Noob!

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    It's great to capture the whole scene but I think being a little closer to the couple would be beneficial. I can't see much of their expression in most of these
     
  3. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    more than a few of these are, unfortunately, oof.
     
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  4. astroNikon

    astroNikon 'ya all Bananas I tell 'ya Supporting Member

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    You mentioned using a flashlight, but them pointing it at you.
    Why don't you have the flashlight and point it at them which will give your camera the ability to auto focus then put it into Manual Focus to keep focus.

    Also when you are using flashes why not go to f/4 or 5.6 instead of staying wide open.

    One your flashes are you shooting 1/1 power ? or adjusting for the situation, any diffuser?

    Also, are you doing any post processing .. such as bringing out selective Shadows and such ?

    You may just want to go out there with a couple friends and test, test, test different settings on everything.

    fyi ... i'm not a lighting expert but that's what I would do
     
  5. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    You've got a great concept, and establishing a niche market is one of the few ways to actually make money in retail photography, but your work needs a LOT of refinement. As mentioned, there's lots of missed focus, unnecessary Dutch tilt, gawd-awful white balance, but most of all you need to work on your lighting. The ideas are fine but the output and modification could use considerable improvment to take your work from 'nice' to WOW!'.
     
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  6. JeremyD

    JeremyD No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I did capture closer shots but I didn't showcase them on TFP, but yes I will get even closer for my next proposal!

    This was helpful, thanks! I will definetly give this a try. It does make sense to go to an aperture around 5.6 if I am using flash if I know I was going to have a in focus shot. I didn't before since I would be using my flash a lot since I was manual focusing trying to get the shot in foucs from trial

    Thank you, I will keep working on how I can make these more successful.
     
  7. JeremyD

    JeremyD No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Alright guys thanks for the tips!

    I finished the next session and some where actually in focus.. But some where a bit off.

    I had two flashes on stands, one with an umbrella that my girlfriend was holding and another one on the other side of them giving a back kicker light. I had them powerful enough so I could have a apterture around 3.2 to 5.6 and my iso around 2000.

    #1:
    [​IMG]Niagara-Falls-Proposal-Fireworks-Weddings-Engagement by JeremyDalyPhotography, on Flickr

    #2
    [​IMG]Niagara-Falls-Romantic-Fireworks-DIY-wedding-Canada-Candid by JeremyDalyPhotography, on Flickr

    #3
    [​IMG]Niagara-Falls-Wedding-Engagement-Proposal-Fireworks by JeremyDalyPhotography, on Flickr

    #4
    [​IMG]Tourist-Photography-Fireworks-Niagara-Falls-attractions-engagements by JeremyDalyPhotography, on Flickr

    #5
    [​IMG]Candid-Niagara-Falls-Engagement-Wedding-Photography by JeremyDalyPhotography, on Flickr

    Let me know your thoughts and any rooms for improvements.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2014
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  8. JustJazzie

    JustJazzie Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I just gotta say, I LOVE the concept that you have here. I cant wait to see more of your work as you continue to perfect your technique. That last black and white image is STUNNING!
     
  9. a_auger

    a_auger TPF Noob!

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    Really cool concept! Ever consider a body upgrade to a 6D? Focuses in practically moonlight and can go into reeeallly high ISO without too much noise. Anyways, I really like the second half of #4, the timing with the girl in the guy's arms and the huge blast in the background make for a really awesome shot.
     
  10. binga63

    binga63 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    work 1st on focus
    then the rest will follow
    the concept is sound but the execution let you down
     
  11. fokker

    fokker No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You're on the right track, each time is getting better so you'll be nailing shots in no time.

    A few recent shoots I did in low-light I brought my cheap LED head-torch with me which was indispensable. I used it when focusing by shining it on the subject, focusing, then turning it off and taking the picture. This worked really well, and it is also super handy to have a hands-free light when setting up gear (lightstands, flashes, lens changes etc). In my case I was quite close to the subject so didn't need an overly bright light, you look like you might be quite far back for a few of these, so may need a more powerful light to get enough light on them for autofocus to work. The 5d2 isn't the greatest in the focusing department (it's what I use too).
     
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  12. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Shot #5 here is really great. The rest I want to like, but the quality on them leaves little to be desired.

    There's no reason to be shooting at iso 2000 with flashes. I like what you did with them, but what's happening to your shots? Are you cranking the noise reduction to 11? Even with a dragged shutter, since you're using flash, the subjects so be perfectly in focus, and I could understand the blur on the fireworks if hand held. But what's going on here?

    with except on #5, they all look like they were taken with a cell phone.
     

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