Assistance needed, tonight Ball - cocktail venue - lighting issue

oto02

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Hi All,

I just grabbed a last minute unpaid job for a Ball party in a cocktail venue.
So tonight I will be involved into this party as main photographer and apart of the photo attached, don't know much about the lighting conditions from this place. I have been told it would be "not too dark and not too bright" - cocktail atmosphere.
I would like not to use the flashes, just to rely on my f1.4 Panaleica 25, f2 Oly 12, f1,8 Oly 45 and 75 on my two EM-5's

The question that bothers me, is: should I still use the bounced flashes, or just crank the ISO up to 3200.
Just bear in mind that those photos may end up on some local TV show.

Thanks guys and hope I'll get some answers within the next hour or so, before I'll get into the real business, :)

Cheers
 

robbie36

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Well you have no idea what the light is going to be like. 'Not too dark' 'not too light' isnt exactly helpful. If you can get the shots you want at iso 1600, I would stick to the ambient light. If not use your flash to bounce light. So take along your flash and if you dont end up using it, nothing lost.
 

Ramsey

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Definitely bring a flash (with diffuser), but be prepared to use higher ISO if the ceiling is too tall for bounce.
 

OzRay

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There is nothing wrong with using even direct flash, ideally with a diffuser. What could be worse than finishing the night and finding that some of the best shots are crap because of movement, bad lighting etc? I'm baffled as to why so many advocate no flash or artificial lighting for even the most important of jobs. It's a photographer's responsibility to understand and use everything that's available to them if they are doing work on behalf of others.
 

Ross the fiddler

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There is nothing wrong with using even direct flash, ideally with a diffuser. What could be worse than finishing the night and finding that some of the best shots are crap because of movement, bad lighting etc? I'm baffled as to why so many advocate no flash or artificial lighting for even the most important of jobs. It's a photographer's responsibility to understand and use everything that's available to them if they are doing work on behalf of others.
Orchestral concerts are not a good place for flash & best to stick with ambient light if possible & only use flash between playing. A ball is different to that & flash should be able to be used if needed.
 

OzRay

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I don't think it matters what the occasion. At the end of the day, you need to produce good results, if that means using a flash, so be it. If people are attending a concert, then all you're going to be dong is photographing people getting smashed during the intermissions and at the start/end, so anything goes. If it's a ball, then you'll be covering people dancing, standing/sitting around talking etc. I've done this in the past and nobody sets up the lighting to suit the photographer/s, they are always left high and dry. Sometimes just focussing can be difficult because the light is so dim. How I wish I'd had my E-M1 in those days.
 

oto02

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Thanks so much for all your input guys.

It turned up badly. I used flashes without diffuser and tried to bounded on the ceiling but was dark and night. In the hallway I tried not to use it the flash at all, just taking advantage of the ambient lights.

I only used PanaLeica 25 and stuck with 1.4 only, and Oly 12 and never again glued it at f2. I thought the longer ones were too tight and hard to manage in those conditions.

I ended up with out of focus photos, plenty of noise, and on top of that one guy was with his video camera and sometimes put his light on and blown all the balance away.

Now I'm not that happy to hand over these pics to my costumer...

Here are one of the "best" if I can call them like that, for your comments.

Thanks all
 

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OzRay

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Unfortunately, you can have the fastest lens in the world and the best high ISO sensor in the world, but if the natural lighting is not conducive to good results, you won't get good results. There seems to be this move by many to 'natural' lighting; the only natural lighting is outdoors created by the sun, everything else is artificial, deemed by someone else as suitable for what they need. Even in daylight, flash, reflectors etc can be vital. Sometimes you just have to learn the hard way.
 

Vivalo

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I don't think your resuslts are that bad. In fact I think some of them are good. Clearly it has been difficult light. And remember that if they were expecting pro quality, they would have paid someone to do it, so relax!
 

OzRay

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I don't wish to kick anyone while they are down, but this is a fairly salutary lesson for all, you just can't go into any photography job unprepared. If you don't fully know what you are likely to be up against, you have to prepare for the worst. This may have been an unpaid job, but it provided a 'first impression'. There is only ever one opportunity for a first impression and you have to make it count (if it matters to you).

That said, these things need to be taken in context and used as experience. And while not all experiences are good, you need to remember an old saying, 'If you've never made a mistake, you've never made anything.'
 

Ross the fiddler

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I don't wish to kick anyone while they are down, but this is a fairly salutary lesson for all, you just can't go into any photography job unprepared. If you don't fully know what you are likely to be up against, you have to prepare for the worst. This may have been an unpaid job, but it provided a 'first impression'. There is only ever one opportunity for a first impression and you have to make it count (if it matters to you).

That said, these things need to be taken in context and used as experience. And while not all experiences are good, you need to remember an old saying, 'If you've never made a mistake, you've never made anything.'
That's true as I did a wedding which were really just a little more than happy snaps, but I still think a number these photos are worthwhile.
 

oto02

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The truth is

I haven't played with flashes much beforehand, and I was unprepared. I thought the wide aperture and high ISO would solve my problem. NO WAY!!
So the whole cause of failure is myself, without practicing with those flashes.
Now playing at cold, I brought in the AF light to help, and it's hell of a difference, set up the flash mode from the camera at Manual and Full flash. I forgot to mention I use two YN-460 II and they are fabulous.
Again, at home is different, but I bounced the light against the walls or ceiling and all the photos that I have taken in purely dark looks great - ISO 200 and also use S mode

I wish I could have done the same on the ball night, three simple things:
- use flash direct to the subject with diffuser
- use AF light assistant
- use ISO 200 to 500 max.
And now I should be laughing.

Enough said, lesson learnt in a hard way!!

Thanks for your nice words you beautiful people. And don't forget: stay away from the noise.
 

RobWatson

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I took a bunch of photos at a recent wedding, rehearsal and reception with no flash and generally horrible lighting (dark, weird colored lights, disco balls and moving colored spots, wide dark areas, etc). To my eye out of ~2500 photos 3 were not crap. This is my fave.

However, once posted and distributed and reviewed by the wedding party and many party goers not one single critical comment was offered. Everyone was just glad to have some photos of the event.

There were 3 paid photographers and a videographer and what an annoying bunch running all over the place with their lights and flashes.
 

zettapixel

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However, once posted and distributed and reviewed by the wedding party and many party goers not one single critical comment was offered. Everyone was just glad to have some photos of the event.

There were 3 paid photographers and a videographer and what an annoying bunch running all over the place with their lights and flashes.
True, true... flashes can be disturbing. Which is NOT what want to do when I'm just a guy at a party - having fun is generally considered more important by guests than having their photos taken.

Also I've been to a couple of weddings when Dave Barry's quote came to mind: "You'll want to have lots of photographs of your wedding to show to your family and friends, who will have been unable to see the actual ceremony because the photographer was always in the way."

Anyway, relying solely on fast lenses on parties is generally pointless since for many photographs they need to be stopped down for DOF. You do what you can. In this case the only thing to do afterwards is post processing. Depending on how large the print (or viewing size) will be a lot can be fixed. Some of the photos are quite good, some I would try to improve with color balance (blue tint is not my favorite) and selective exposure adjustment....
 
M

minibokeh

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Agreed that some of the pictures could be salvaged to some extent (not going to make big prints, though ...).
Two things that I would try:
#1 convert to black and white, ideally with a plug-in or presets that give you a "film" look. More forgiving e.g. to eliminate some of the "bad" colors from mixed lighting.
#2 fix white balance (obviously mostly applies if you're not going b/w). I have found the "skin tones" (F4) command in SilkyPix to be more effective and helpful than any other tool, as it allows you to same an *area* of skin (not a single pixel) and adjusts both color temperature and exposure in one go.
 
D

Deleted member 20897

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My rule for these kinds of events. Find out what the host is going to limit you to, and then do whatever it takes to get the shots within the rules.

I shot a dance at a VFW once and I had 4 different light stands setup in strategic places. Got the shots I needed. Client/me happy.

I always try to go for the simplest approach. That way you reduce the chance of there being an issue, and if something goes wrong, there are less variables to deal with to resolve them.

For lighting, you can try crossing 2 lights across the floor from either corner, have an assistant hold a flash for you and have them position it where you want it, or use on camera flash as a feathering fill to the ambient. Get there early and experiment.
 
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