Need Lighting Solution

Clint

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I have a shoot Thursday that will present some challenges, photo of room below, and the final prints will be 40" wide.

I have 250-300 people who will line the balcony, staircase and main floor. The area is about 80 feet wide and 25 feet high with mixed lighting. The snapshot below was taken at ISO 400, 1/100, f2.8 at 12mm.

Because of circumstances the hotel wants me to use a minimum of gear. Although no specifics were mentioned I think more than two light stands and one tripod is on the verge of their definition of too much gear. And I'll only have 1/2 an hour to set up, get the photos and remove my gear.

Any ideas?

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OzRay

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Does that half hour include arranging the people? If so, you're going to have your work cut out. That chandelier is also going to be an issue, it simply dominates the scene. That's a shot where I'd probably use all four of my FL-50s just to pump in as much light as possible, two towards the ceiling (but forwards) and two into the lower half and balcony/staircase.

As an alternative, could you photograph them all on the lower floor, with you on the balcony? That's how we used to often do very large groups, from a cherry picker and by arranging the group suitably.
 

AlanU

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I would use the floor and stairs. See if the hotel will lend you a maintenance ladder and shoot at least f/8. OR as mentioned you go on the balcony and shoot down on the group.

I'll have to say your going to need some high watt second strobes in conjunction with higher iso settings.

Recently i assisted in lighting for 220 people in a horribly lit church. I used f/10, 125SS, iso 400 and total of 1280 WS full power Einstein strobes in 2 seven foot shoot through umbrellas. This was with a canon 5dmk3.

You'll need to worry about light fall off inverse square law. Placement of flash will be tricky because you'll get hot exposure on the first row and dark shadow's in the rear. This is where you must determine what you want to do. Expose for the front row and use a exposure gradient to uplift the exposure on the back row. This is if your shooting with the group on the floor.

if your on the balcony shooting down I would get as much Watt seconds flash power as much as possible and shoot all of the lights on the ceiling. Do test shots to get a proper photo of your custom white balance card.

No joke... your task really requires at least 2 strobes to output at least f/10 to properly get sharp faces on all 300 people. On the balcony hit the ceiling real hard with light so you can have diffused even lighting down below.

First task it to rent or borrow alot of lights. Not sure what you have but you need to shoot high iso if you dont have alot of flash power.

IMO I'd shoot down on the group while your on the balcony. Use the ceiling as your best friend and get even lighting.

I love these challenges. Get a friend to help organize the people. Dont drink too much coffee because it'll be stressful times dealing with the people while you execute the shot with perfection....been there done that and love every second of the challenge.
 

OzRay

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That's why I suggested shooting from the balcony and have people look up at you, that way light coming off the ceiling will diffusely and evenly light all the faces. One thing is for certain, you can't have enough lights.
 

AlanU

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If you rent a strobe you can use a regular flash on camera to trigger the "optical trigger" on the strobe. Just keep in mind that you have to be within the max flash sync of your camera. 1/125 is always safe and reduce the shutter speed if you want more ambient exposure. The flash output of the strobe is the setting on your camera (f stop) Shutter speed will determine the background exposure.

Have fun :)
 

Clint

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Shooting from the balcony and down is out, customer requirement. And in this case I have three equal customers that all put this event on! Plus the scene looking down and back is even darker and nothing to look at. Hotel said no ladders but some risers on the bottom floor are a possibility.

The ceilings, besides having these offsets are also covered in popcorn acoustic coating so they will eat up the light. I was thinking that bouncing the light off the celling will have issues with those on the balcony as well as the difference in the light striking them and those on the floor?

I do have help getting the subjects to the area and placed where I need them.

I only have three FL-50r's but I just don't think they have the power to put out the overall coverage and power. I do have four Quantum Qflash T5dRs but only five foot umbrellas.
 

OzRay

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I'd use the Q flashes without modifiers and just use the space to allow them to flood the area with light and allow light to spill all over. The FL-50R flashes may help to fill in some awkward spots. Do you have the opportunity to test the Q flashes and see what sort of effect it will have? Walking in on a wing and a prayer will always have Murphy looking over your shoulder.
 

mcasan

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I'd use the Q flashes without modifiers and just use the space to allow them to flood the area with light and allow light to spill all over. The FL-50R flashes may help to fill in some awkward spots. Do you have the opportunity to test the Q flashes and see what sort of effect it will have? Walking in on a wing and a prayer will always have Murphy looking over your shoulder.
The chandelier and sconces will give off very yellow light. I would put a 3800 amber gel on any flash so the light colors match. You can later alter the temp in post processing as needed.
 

Wisertime

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Just thinking aloud....never done a group this large in a space like this.....you could possibly bounce your flashes off the wall behind you (if there is one and it's white?) angled up towards the ceiling. You can get away w/higher ISO if need be too I think. I'm not sure if a ND grad would be a good idea for the chandelier.... MCASAN has a good suggestion. If there was a way to point a corner of a square filter down from the top covering the chandelier, that would help and not obscure any faces....you'd have to experiment on that to see if it works..though either way you can adjust exposure in Post and keep it even I'd think.
 

AlanU

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4 quantums will only be 600 watt seconds of power. In your case I'd push the iso to the max amount until you lose detail. I'd go upto iso 1250 to 1600 if your camera can handle the noise. If the lighting is evenly distributed you may not see much noise but loose details.

I'd evenly distribute the quantums on the floor and if you can get many friends to hold a monopod or other long pole extension and hold it up high with remote triggers to cover the balcony (42 inch shoot through umbrella's or large index cards while flash is pointing to ceiling) . That should cover the light bomb to fill the faces.

If your renting lights I'd imagine 3 studio strobes would evenly light the entire bottom section of the group and mount the quantums with umbrella brackets on the top with kacey paint pole adapters on long paint poles. This way you have time to setup the bottom with light stands and get friends to hold paint poles and have them move around to adapt and fill in the light. if you want to be fancy you can put flashes on the rear of the group for rim light ;)

This situation really looks like your enemy is the lack of light.
 

Clint

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You'll need to worry about light fall off inverse square law. Placement of flash will be tricky …

Don't drink too much coffee because it'll be stressful …
Shoots like this is where to use the benefit of the inverse square law. The lights will not be close to the subjects, 32 - 45 feet away so the fall off will be greatly curtailed.

Placement of the lights for this is going to be very tricky (to say the least) - and even more so since I found out I only have 12 foot light stands! So some light is bouncing off the ceiling even though I know it won't work great.

Coffee - my life blood. Got me though decades of the Navy! And keep me going today.
 

Clint

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That's a shot where I'd probably use all four of my FL-50s just to pump in as much light as possible, two towards the ceiling (but forwards) and two into the lower half and balcony/staircase.
Actually you probably right on target. It has been so long since I used since I used the FL-50r's I'd forgotton how good they are. I took mine and tested them today they just have a touch of an issue of lighting differences from the left to middle to right when measured at 40 feet, but here is about a 45 wide foot coverage when they start to feather out. Now if I just had four of them!
 

Clint

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Optical triggers, not much of good idea in my book when you have lights 15-22 feet in the air unless you know what power level you need before they go up or you have lot of time.

I'd use the Q flashes without modifiers and just use the space to allow them to flood the area with light and allow light to spill all over. The FL-50R flashes may help to fill in some awkward spots. Do you have the opportunity to test the Q flashes and see what sort of effect it will have? Walking in on a wing and a prayer will always have Murphy looking over your shoulder.
Last night I went down to a Target store that had closed and set up to shoot some light patterns on a wall, wasn't there five minutes before the Police came and asked very politely if I would not fire off any more flashes. But I learned that bare bulb is not a great idea when a good distance from you subject.

When I got home and unpacked I found one of the bulbs busted. First time I've seen that - it maybe fifteen years old though. So no problem, call the two local camera/photo shops here in San Diego - guess what - they don’t have a QF30 type flash tubes in stock, and none in L.A. - gotta get them from New York. So now I'm down to 2 T5d-Rs and a Trio. Tomorrow after two other events I'll give the Flashes a test and figure what I have to do to make them work.

Did you say something about Murphy! LOL
 

Clint

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This situation really looks like your enemy is the lack of light.
Nah, the enemy is lack of planning ahead with enough time in advance. This is an event I've done for 7 years, but with three organizations planning it and a few changes; things didn't get accomplished as early as usual.

And then as OzRay pointed out about Murphy - he's hangin right in there with me.

4 quantums will only be 600 watt seconds of power. In your case I'd push the iso to the max amount until you lose detail. I'd go up to ISO 1250 to 1600 if your camera can handle the noise. If the lighting is evenly distributed you may not see much noise but loose details.
Qflashes are pretty amazing pieces of gear for the size. Much like the m4/3s are impressive especially considering the size. 1600 ISO on the E-M1 is very workable.
 

OzRay

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Bummer about the flash tube. If all else fails, a bunch of cheap halogen work lights might give you sufficient light to get you through. The white balance shouldn't be a major issue.
 

Bokeaji

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havent read replies
but
1 camera on tripod
timer
run up with a wireless flash and whatever modifier will work for you
aim it at a small part of the group
refire timer shutter
run back up to next chunk of people and aim light at them
repeat till you have shots where everyone has been flashed
then blend layers in photoshop
 

OzRay

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havent read replies
but
1 camera on tripod
timer
run up with a wireless flash and whatever modifier will work for you
aim it at a small part of the group
refire timer shutter
run back up to next chunk of people and aim light at them
repeat till you have shots where everyone has been flashed
then blend layers in photoshop
:eek:
 

Clint

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My morning started off on the wrong foot - and then at 10:30 I walk into the convention center to find -
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Murphy - go away!!!! LOL
 
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