Event Photography With Flash

Posted May 18th, 2011 by   |  Flash Photography, Photography  |  Permalink

Great questions today from a photographer (W. Kwan) who attended my recent workshops in Los Angeles. Here are his questions and my answers below.

Mike,

First off, I’d really like to take this opportunity to thank you for your hard work and dedication to the Nikonians community.  Your workshop was the best class/workshop I’ve ever been to including my undergraduate work.  I truly felt like I’ve learned a lot from your class and made me really want to experiment for with my flash.  I’ve been practicing greatly by just keeping my flash on my body.  I rarely try to take any pictures without my flash now.

I wanted to ask you for some advice since I’ve been asked to photograph someone’s graduation party inside a banquet hall by the beach with a patio overlooking the beach at sunset.  I’ll have my friend who will be helping throughout the banquet.  The gear that we own is (2) d7000s, (2) sb-600, 85mm 1.8, 35mm 1.8, 50mm 1.4, 11-20mm 2.8, 18-105mm 3.5-5.6, and two continuous soft boxes.  I have several questions and it would be greatly appreciated if you could help me out by answering some questions.

Question: I was wondering if our equipment is good enough for an event like this.  If not, what are some equipment I should rent.  I was thinking about renting a 24-70mm 2.8.

Answer: Yes. Your equipment is fine. Honestly, it is less important to have the “gear” than it is to have the “technique.” I strongly encourage you to practice shooting in a couple of scenarios before the big event. Try shooting at sunset. Try shooting in the dark inside a banquet hall. You’ll learn an incredible amount by doing this before hand.

I like your lenses, especially the 85mm, 35mm and 50mm. I don’t see any reason to rent the 24-70mm other than just having another backup.

Question: Also, it’s been difficult taking pictures with low light and flash because in the past I noticed in Aperture Priority mode, the shutter speed would be at 1/15 or 1/20 second making it too slow to shoot.  Also, my ISO would also be at like 1200.  In a situation like that, what are the different options I have?

Answer: The solution for long shutter speeds in low light with flash is … ISO and aperture. Don’t be afraid to bump up ISO to 1600 or 3200. The D7000 performs very well at these ISO values and I shoot up there all the time. For aperture, shooting at f2.8 or f1.8 will also help to bring in much more light. At these big apertures though, you’ll need to be careful about getting accurate focus since depth of field is so narrow.

Question: Any advice on shooting big group photos of like 10-20 people?

Answer: For big groups in a dark area, the key is to bounce the flash. If you aren’t careful, you’ll blast the front row with a lot of light and the back row will be dark. Therefore, using a bounce method to send the light up to the ceiling will be helpful. If this isn’t possible (i.e. ceiling is too high), then I recommend flattening the group and trying to keep them all about the same distance away from the camera. In other words, use two rows rather than 5 rows.



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