Weekly Discussion Thread: Low-light scenarios (what are your preferences?)

AgnieszkaAgnieszka Photoshopping ...Between Denver and BostonRegistered Users, Retired Mod Posts: 3,262
edited January 23, 2012 in Weddings
Hi there.

Thought it would be interesting to hear everybody's thoughts about your low-light shooting preferences (especially during receptions).

Every church is different (light wise), but how do you handle (evening) receptions? Do you come in with external lights / do you use your on-camera flash, or do you refuse any flashes (if so what lens are you using & what are your favorite settings?)?

:lynnma
«1

Comments

  • mmmattmmmatt Big Grimace Registered Users Posts: 1,347 Major grins
    edited March 23, 2010
    I bounce on side walls whenever I can. If I'm in an area where walls aren't working out for me I will use the ceiling and the bounce card built into my flash. Outdoor receptions not in a tent, I go with a bracket and a diffuser or a stand and a diffuser but not to much you can do without off camera flash at night under the sky. I sometimes use video lights too but the battery length doesn't allow for much use.
    When bouncing, I shoot anywhere from 800-1600 ISO but 1600 is most typical. I use mostly fast primes like the 135 f2L, and 85 f1.8 USM but when I had my 70-200 f2.8L IS it worked well in all but the darkest of reception halls where it really struggled to focus. The 24-70 f2.8L is a great low light focuser and spends a lot of time on my camera regardless of available light. I shoot in manual and usually am trying to keep my aperture up as much as possible, but I don't often get much over f4. My shutter speed varies with the available light of course, but as low as 1/15 is sucessful as long as the flash is doing a lot of work. If the flash isn't making most of the light, the ambient light takes over and I get motion blur. In dark rooms though 1/15th is fine. I use a Cannon 580EX II and an external pack. I typically go through 20-30 AA batts durring a wedding. Bouncing in dark rooms requires your flash to fire almost full on every time and that eats batteries.

    here are a couple examples of my bouncing:


    1. This room was fairly dark but the wall I was bouncing from was close, and I was close to the subject which helps a lot. The flash is pointing over my right shoulder about 45 deg right and 45 deg up. A higher shutter speed of course helps me darken the surroundings but the bounce returns a wonderful soft light similar to window light. Canon 5d, 24-70 f2.8L, iso 1000, 1/200, f4
    723245492_WSmSP-L.jpg



    2. In this shot I am bouncing the flash to my right. See the shadows across her arms, bust and stomach, and how they slenderize her? Canon 5d, 135 f2L, iso 1600, 1/100, f4
    723598385_wHi2C-L.jpg

    3. I put this one in so you could note the lack of shadowing from his hat. This one the flash is about 45 over my left shoulder and level to avoid those shadows from the hat. You can see I had to push the exposure on this one a bit, but I think it still looks fine. I comonly have to adjust exposure on my files and so shoot exclusively in raw. Canon 5d, 135 f2L, iso 1000, 1/200, f4
    723253230_noTry-L.jpg



    I hope this is helpful to someone! I used to use off camera, and/or a bracket, and then went to this. I prefer the look of side lighting so I avoid the bulky bracket, and I think off camera in a busy reception room is a PITA, so I started doing things this way. I absolutely love the quality of light and the ease of use. I can do it consistently in very large and dark rooms. I can change the direction of light with the flip of my flash head so that I can light the faces of people regardless of where they are in the room, and I have the ability to evenly light people who are extending from me vertically. That is to say if you are shooting down a line of people you can hit the wall they are all facing and get similar light on all of them. I was first introduced to this by a photog I was shooting 2nd for, and then read about it more from Neil http://neilvn.com/tangents/. I then eventually saw both he and Dennis Reggie speak about the technique at a seminar last year.

    Matt
    My Smugmug site

    Bodies: Canon 5d mkII, 5d, 40d
    Lenses: 24-70 f2.8L, 70-200 f4.0L, 135 f2L, 85 f1.8, 50 1.8, 100 f2.8 macro, Tamron 28-105 f2.8
    Flash: 2x 580 exII, Canon ST-E2, 2x Pocket Wizard flexTT5, and some lower end studio strobes
  • QarikQarik Krazy Korean Registered Users Posts: 4,959 Major grins
    edited March 23, 2010
    on camera flash with fong sphere or straight bounce.
    D700, D600
    14-24 24-70 70-200mm (vr2)
    85 and 50 1.4
    45 PC and sb910 x2
    http://www.danielkimphotography.com
  • tenoverthenosetenoverthenose Major grins Registered Users Posts: 815 Major grins
    edited March 23, 2010
    Actually I treat low light situations just about the same as I do bright light. Some with external lights, some with "existing" light. Over the weekend I did an e-session with a couple both outdoors in full sun and at night street side in an urban environment. I actually used the lights a lot more during the day. Just a style thing...

    Gotta love high iso!
  • SwartzySwartzy Right Brained Scientist Registered Users Posts: 3,293 Major grins
    edited March 23, 2010
    I switch it up depending on the shot/time. Before and after dinner I'm bouncing flash, typically high ISO's and nail exposures. Receptions, my second and I have either lights on a stick or he will and mine's on board in Manual (1/8th..something like that) We cross light and get some really cool effects. Also I like to 2nd curtain in ETTL and slow the shutter speed way down. A few examples:

    Flash on board with PW attached firing 2nd's strobe:

    660168195_dDJan-XL-1.jpg

    Light on a stick

    411091407_8uHCv-XL.jpg


    Bounced light/flash on board ETTL

    370178973_3JpeM-XL.jpg

    Dragging the shutter (2nd curtain 1/8th)

    664226118_GHgWH-XL.jpg

    Saw some other cool set ups with strobes across the room I'd like to try this year.
    Swartzy:
    NAPP Member | Canon Shooter
    Weddings/Portraits and anything else that catches my eye.
    www.daveswartz.com
    Model Mayhem site http://www.modelmayhem.com/686552
  • shmingshming Big grins Registered Users Posts: 93 Big grins
    edited March 30, 2010
    mmmatt wrote:
    I bounce on side walls whenever I can. If I'm in an area where walls aren't working out for me I will use the ceiling and the bounce card built into my flash. Outdoor receptions not in a tent, I go with a bracket and a diffuser or a stand and a diffuser but not to much you can do without off camera flash at night under the sky. I sometimes use video lights too but the battery length doesn't allow for much use.
    When bouncing, I shoot anywhere from 800-1600 ISO but 1600 is most typical. I use mostly fast primes like the 135 f2L, and 85 f1.8 USM but when I had my 70-200 f2.8L IS it worked well in all but the darkest of reception halls where it really struggled to focus. The 24-70 f2.8L is a great low light focuser and spends a lot of time on my camera regardless of available light. I shoot in manual and usually am trying to keep my aperture up as much as possible, but I don't often get much over f4. My shutter speed varies with the available light of course, but as low as 1/15 is sucessful as long as the flash is doing a lot of work. If the flash isn't making most of the light, the ambient light takes over and I get motion blur. In dark rooms though 1/15th is fine. I use a Cannon 580EX II and an external pack. I typically go through 20-30 AA batts durring a wedding. Bouncing in dark rooms requires your flash to fire almost full on every time and that eats batteries.

    Matt

    Excellent and very informative post bowdown.gif. Quick question: When you are as low as 1/15 with your shutter speed are you in 2nd curtain? Don't know why, but I'm really curious about that. Are you switching back and forth between 1st and 2nd curtain? If so - have you found a faster way to access the external speedlight control within your custom menu settings. This has been an issue of mine during the reception. I'm constantly going in between the two and I haven't figured out a faster way to get to that setting. I'd love to be able to change back and forth within 2 adjustments no more. So If you know a way - PLEASE!!!!! post it. If not ne_nau.gif

    Thanks Matt
    Klinh
    KLinh
    Klinh Evelyn Grace Photography
    Fashion & Commercial
    (2)Mamiya RZ67 IID, Mamiya 645 AFD II, Leaf Aptus 65, Profoto D1's, Capture One.
    http://www.klinhevelyngracephotography.com
  • zoomerzoomer Major grins Registered Users Posts: 3,688 Major grins
    edited March 30, 2010
    d3 iso 3200
    flash on a bracket pointed straight up at the ceiling with a demb diffuser on the front.
    24-70 f2.8 at 2.8.
    Set Manual exposure for subjects about 10' away, then just shoot.

    Whenever possible turn the flash off and shoot ambient, this year I have an 85 1.4 so hope to be doing more ambient shooting.
  • mmmattmmmatt Big Grimace Registered Users Posts: 1,347 Major grins
    edited March 30, 2010
    shming wrote:

    Excellent and very informative post bowdown.gif. Quick question: When you are as low as 1/15 with your shutter speed are you in 2nd curtain? Don't know why, but I'm really curious about that. Are you switching back and forth between 1st and 2nd curtain? If so - have you found a faster way to access the external speedlight control within your custom menu settings. This has been an issue of mine during the reception. I'm constantly going in between the two and I haven't figured out a faster way to get to that setting. I'd love to be able to change back and forth within 2 adjustments no more. So If you know a way - PLEASE!!!!! post it. If not ne_nau.gif

    Thanks Matt
    Klinh

    Hey Klnh! Yes sometimes I put it in 2nd curtain and that helps if you aren't getting the amount of flash you need to freeze the subject. 2nd curtain will at least give you an "artistic" blur trail if the power of the flash isn't doing the job fully. I don't think there is any power loss or other downside to just leaving it on 2nd curtain, but that may be a Google moment. I don't switch back and forth and have never really noticed any difference although a slight difference would go unnoticed for me since every shot is drastically different depending on distance to subject and which wall you are bouncing from. Actually... "pathfinder" is one of the mods here and he is a big proponent of that. He doesn't often show up in weddingville but if you advanced searched threads by him with "flash" or "st-e2" I know you will find some posting about that. he's a cool guy so you could pm him also.

    The key to making low shutter speeds work with flash is to be providing most of the subject lighting with the flash because flash lighting will (almost) never blur, only the ambient light will blur. If there is no ambient, or if the ambient is far lower than the flash, then the flash will take over the exposure and be all good. Do some experiments in your house and see just where that is! I would think if your ambient exposure is 2+ stops lower than proper exposure you should be all good if your flash can get you back up to proper exposure. If your flash can't get you there then that is when you are happy you have the 2nd curtain sync setting on. I don't often have to shoot at 1/15th but it is easily doable without any motion blur and sometimes necessary in a really dark room if you want some distant dimly lit details. Remember that the shutter speed doesn't effect the flash lighting, only the ambient. You would only go that low to capture some of the ambient as it doesn't effect the flash produced light one bit.

    Hope that helps! I am shooting a highschool prom in a couple of weeks and as much as I am embarrassed to admit I sometimes do those, for almost -0- pay, I do like to use them to fine tune techniques like this. If I think about it I will do some demos a few different ways and post the results back here. I'll shoot kids dancing at a few slower shutter speeds and front vs rear curtain, and note ambient lighting and whatnot.

    Matt
    My Smugmug site

    Bodies: Canon 5d mkII, 5d, 40d
    Lenses: 24-70 f2.8L, 70-200 f4.0L, 135 f2L, 85 f1.8, 50 1.8, 100 f2.8 macro, Tamron 28-105 f2.8
    Flash: 2x 580 exII, Canon ST-E2, 2x Pocket Wizard flexTT5, and some lower end studio strobes
  • shmingshming Big grins Registered Users Posts: 93 Big grins
    edited March 30, 2010
    Mmatt!!! Thanks a lot!!! after I posted - I went and registered some setting on my cameras for use of flash -- c1 - is first curtain (with my fav. settings) c2 - 2nd curtain and so on. I owe it to your post to get that part of my camera bodies organized so to speak. So thank you very much. Have fun shooting at the prom. We (my wife and I) just did our deed (low pay gig) at a fashion show last week. Now it's back into weddings. :ivar wings.gif
    mmmatt wrote:
    Hey Klnh! Yes sometimes I put it in 2nd curtain and that helps if you aren't getting the amount of flash you need to freeze the subject. 2nd curtain will at least give you an "artistic" blur trail if the power of the flash isn't doing the job fully. I don't think there is any power loss or other downside to just leaving it on 2nd curtain, but that may be a Google moment. I don't switch back and forth and have never really noticed any difference although a slight difference would go unnoticed for me since every shot is drastically different depending on distance to subject and which wall you are bouncing from. Actually... "pathfinder" is one of the mods here and he is a big proponent of that. He doesn't often show up in weddingville but if you advanced searched threads by him with "flash" or "st-e2" I know you will find some posting about that. he's a cool guy so you could pm him also.

    The key to making low shutter speeds work with flash is to be providing most of the subject lighting with the flash because flash lighting will (almost) never blur, only the ambient light will blur. If there is no ambient, or if the ambient is far lower than the flash, then the flash will take over the exposure and be all good. Do some experiments in your house and see just where that is! I would think if your ambient exposure is 2+ stops lower than proper exposure you should be all good if your flash can get you back up to proper exposure. If your flash can't get you there then that is when you are happy you have the 2nd curtain sync setting on. I don't often have to shoot at 1/15th but it is easily doable without any motion blur and sometimes necessary in a really dark room if you want some distant dimly lit details. Remember that the shutter speed doesn't effect the flash lighting, only the ambient. You would only go that low to capture some of the ambient as it doesn't effect the flash produced light one bit.

    Hope that helps! I am shooting a highschool prom in a couple of weeks and as much as I am embarrassed to admit I sometimes do those, for almost -0- pay, I do like to use them to fine tune techniques like this. If I think about it I will do some demos a few different ways and post the results back here. I'll shoot kids dancing at a few slower shutter speeds and front vs rear curtain, and note ambient lighting and whatnot.

    Matt
    KLinh
    Klinh Evelyn Grace Photography
    Fashion & Commercial
    (2)Mamiya RZ67 IID, Mamiya 645 AFD II, Leaf Aptus 65, Profoto D1's, Capture One.
    http://www.klinhevelyngracephotography.com
  • Robert.MetzelRobert.Metzel Beginner grinner Registered Users Posts: 6 Beginner grinner
    edited March 30, 2010
    We shoot on camera bounce flash except during the first few dances, Bride & Groom etc... for those we use anywhere from 2 to 6 off camera flashes strategically placed. I like to shoot a lot of natural light stuff with fast primes too. I also drag the shutter a few times during the dances and freeze with flash in 2nd curtain sync to give the illusion of tons move movement.
  • VayCayMomVayCayMom making real life prettier Registered Users Posts: 1,870 Major grins
    edited April 7, 2010
    Actually I treat low light situations just about the same as I do bright light. Some with external lights, some with "existing" light. Over the weekend I did an e-session with a couple both outdoors in full sun and at night street side in an urban environment. I actually used the lights a lot more during the day. Just a style thing...

    Gotta love high iso!


    Can you post some of those or give us a link?
    Trudy
    www.CottageInk.smugmug.com

    NIKON D700
  • ShayebrydShayebryd Major grins Registered Users Posts: 165 Major grins
    edited April 8, 2010
    mmmatt wrote:
    I bounce on side walls whenever I can. If I'm in an area where walls aren't working out for me I will use the ceiling and the bounce card built into my flash. Outdoor receptions not in a tent, I go with a bracket and a diffuser or a stand and a diffuser but not to much you can do without off camera flash at night under the sky. I sometimes use video lights too but the battery length doesn't allow for much use.
    When bouncing, I shoot anywhere from 800-1600 ISO but 1600 is most typical. I use mostly fast primes like the 135 f2L, and 85 f1.8 USM but when I had my 70-200 f2.8L IS it worked well in all but the darkest of reception halls where it really struggled to focus. The 24-70 f2.8L is a great low light focuser and spends a lot of time on my camera regardless of available light. I shoot in manual and usually am trying to keep my aperture up as much as possible, but I don't often get much over f4. My shutter speed varies with the available light of course, but as low as 1/15 is sucessful as long as the flash is doing a lot of work. If the flash isn't making most of the light, the ambient light takes over and I get motion blur. In dark rooms though 1/15th is fine. I use a Cannon 580EX II and an external pack. I typically go through 20-30 AA batts durring a wedding. Bouncing in dark rooms requires your flash to fire almost full on every time and that eats batteries.

    here are a couple examples of my bouncing:


    1. This room was fairly dark but the wall I was bouncing from was close, and I was close to the subject which helps a lot. The flash is pointing over my right shoulder about 45 deg right and 45 deg up. A higher shutter speed of course helps me darken the surroundings but the bounce returns a wonderful soft light similar to window light. Canon 5d, 24-70 f2.8L, iso 1000, 1/200, f4
    723245492_WSmSP-L.jpg



    2. In this shot I am bouncing the flash to my right. See the shadows across her arms, bust and stomach, and how they slenderize her? Canon 5d, 135 f2L, iso 1600, 1/100, f4
    723598385_wHi2C-L.jpg

    3. I put this one in so you could note the lack of shadowing from his hat. This one the flash is about 45 over my left shoulder and level to avoid those shadows from the hat. You can see I had to push the exposure on this one a bit, but I think it still looks fine. I comonly have to adjust exposure on my files and so shoot exclusively in raw. Canon 5d, 135 f2L, iso 1000, 1/200, f4
    723253230_noTry-L.jpg



    I hope this is helpful to someone! I used to use off camera, and/or a bracket, and then went to this. I prefer the look of side lighting so I avoid the bulky bracket, and I think off camera in a busy reception room is a PITA, so I started doing things this way. I absolutely love the quality of light and the ease of use. I can do it consistently in very large and dark rooms. I can change the direction of light with the flip of my flash head so that I can light the faces of people regardless of where they are in the room, and I have the ability to evenly light people who are extending from me vertically. That is to say if you are shooting down a line of people you can hit the wall they are all facing and get similar light on all of them. I was first introduced to this by a photog I was shooting 2nd for, and then read about it more from Neil http://neilvn.com/tangents/. I then eventually saw both he and Dennis Reggie speak about the technique at a seminar last year.

    Matt

    Awesome....thank you so much for sharing......from someone learning, that is such helpful information! I appreciate the time and effort you put into this post! :)
    "My favorite thing is to go where I've never been!"
  • tenoverthenosetenoverthenose Major grins Registered Users Posts: 815 Major grins
    edited April 9, 2010
    VayCayMom wrote:
    Can you post some of those or give us a link?

    Here you go Trudy!

    http://patrickpike.com/2010/03/nancy-josh-engagement.html
  • JohnBiggsJohnBiggs General grins Registered Users Posts: 841 Major grins
    edited April 12, 2010
    Agnieszka wrote:
    Hi there.

    Thought it would be interesting to hear everybody's thoughts about your low-light shooting preferences (especially during receptions).

    Every church is different (light wise), but how do you handle (evening) receptions? Do you come in with external lights / do you use your on-camera flash, or do you refuse any flashes (if so what lens are you using & what are your favorite settings?)?

    cheerleader.gif

    For the reception I setup two strobes in opposite corners pointed to the ceiling in the middle of the room. I place a HONL gobo on the head to block a direct shot of light into my lens. Everything is triggered with Cybersyncs. My second shooter also has a cybersync trigger so he can catch the action too.

    The lightstands are very light so I will move them for two or three specific parts of the reception. 1. Intros, 2. cake, 3. sometimes first dance
    Canon Gear: 5D MkII, 30D, 85 1.2 L, 70-200 2.8 IS L, 17-40mm f4 L, 50 1.4, 580EX, 2x 580EXII, Canon 1.4x TC, 300 f4 IS L, 100mm 2.8 Macro, 100-400 IS L
    Other Gear: Olympus E-PL1, Pan 20 1.7, Fuji 3D Camera, Lensbaby 2.0, Tamron 28-75 2.8, Alien Bees lighting, CyberSyncs, Domke, HONL, FlipIt.
    ~ Gear Pictures
  • WingsOfLovePhotoWingsOfLovePhoto Major grins Registered Users Posts: 797 Major grins
    edited May 12, 2010
    Is anybody routinely using video lights? I went to a seminar the other night and the speaker was using video lights with awesome results, mostly for the first dance and night shots outside... Since I mostly shoot using existing light and really dislike flash lately I thought that might be a great alternative. At least with video lights you can "see" the light and where it will fall in comparison to using flash...so I went out and bought some and now I need to know what to do with them! Anybody here into them?
    Snady :thumb
    my money well spent :D
    Nikon D4, D3s, D3, D700, Nikkor 24-70, 70-200 2.8 vrII, 50mm 1.4, 85mm 1.4, 105mm macro, sigma fisheye, SB 800's and lots of other goodies!
  • JohnBiggsJohnBiggs General grins Registered Users Posts: 841 Major grins
    edited May 12, 2010
    I've seen amazing results mixing video light with flash. However (I believe) video lights have a few problems.
    Ambient is low for a reason. Video lights can ruin the mood. Or put a 'spot light' in the face of the bride/groom/etc
    Flash far overpowers video lights, so if you need a lot of light, you will need lots of video lights to equate to flash.
    Video lights will chew through batteries faster
    Video lights get hotter, you have to be more careful and/or have an assistant there to watch it.
    I also believe, but have not tried, that all the cool video light shots can also be done with flashes set to the right ratios.
    Canon Gear: 5D MkII, 30D, 85 1.2 L, 70-200 2.8 IS L, 17-40mm f4 L, 50 1.4, 580EX, 2x 580EXII, Canon 1.4x TC, 300 f4 IS L, 100mm 2.8 Macro, 100-400 IS L
    Other Gear: Olympus E-PL1, Pan 20 1.7, Fuji 3D Camera, Lensbaby 2.0, Tamron 28-75 2.8, Alien Bees lighting, CyberSyncs, Domke, HONL, FlipIt.
    ~ Gear Pictures
  • mmmattmmmatt Big Grimace Registered Users Posts: 1,347 Major grins
    edited May 23, 2010
    mmmatt wrote: »

    Hope that helps! I am shooting a highschool prom in a couple of weeks and as much as I am embarrassed to admit I sometimes do those, for almost -0- pay, I do like to use them to fine tune techniques like this. If I think about it I will do some demos a few different ways and post the results back here. I'll shoot kids dancing at a few slower shutter speeds and front vs rear curtain, and note ambient lighting and whatnot.

    Matt

    This took a while but this is a gallery compiled of a few of my practice events (proms) with some annotations. Unfortunately I wasn't able to find out through the exif data if I used 2nd curtain flash... I did on some and hoped to be able to compare the exif... but otherwise I think this will give some good information on my bounce style for those who asked and anyone else interested.

    Matt
    My Smugmug site

    Bodies: Canon 5d mkII, 5d, 40d
    Lenses: 24-70 f2.8L, 70-200 f4.0L, 135 f2L, 85 f1.8, 50 1.8, 100 f2.8 macro, Tamron 28-105 f2.8
    Flash: 2x 580 exII, Canon ST-E2, 2x Pocket Wizard flexTT5, and some lower end studio strobes
  • liflanderliflander wag more. bark less. Registered Users Posts: 339 Major grins
    edited May 25, 2010
    What's your ISO limit?
    Can the experienced shooters please comment on the limits of ISO settings. I've been shooting Bar/Bat Mitzvahs in dark rooms, and I've been fine shooting at ISO 560 or 800. I notice many of the people on this thread shooting at much higher ISO.

    (I know it depends on the camera. I'm shooting with Nikon D300 bodies, bouncing flash when possible, if direct I use a variety of diffusers (Fong or Lumiquest), occasional light on a stick. Manual camera exposure, TTL flash.)

    So how high is too high ISO?

    Thanks,
    Mark
  • JohnBiggsJohnBiggs General grins Registered Users Posts: 841 Major grins
    edited May 25, 2010
    liflander wrote: »
    Can the experienced shooters please comment on the limits of ISO settings. I've been shooting Bar/Bat Mitzvahs in dark rooms, and I've been fine shooting at ISO 560 or 800. I notice many of the people on this thread shooting at much higher ISO.

    (I know it depends on the camera. I'm shooting with Nikon D300 bodies, bouncing flash when possible, if direct I use a variety of diffusers (Fong or Lumiquest), occasional light on a stick. Manual camera exposure, TTL flash.)

    So how high is too high ISO?

    Thanks,
    Mark

    No ISO is too high. You use the lowest ISO you need to get the shot. If the situation demands 6400, then you use 6400. The image is what it is, but at least you captured it. I know I see great results from 3200 on my particular body, but not as great as if it were ISO 400.

    These days I pretty much start at 1600 indoors. Most ceremonies don't allow flash.

    Edit: I looked at your wedding gallery and it has pictures of kids playing soccer and such. You should fix that.
    Canon Gear: 5D MkII, 30D, 85 1.2 L, 70-200 2.8 IS L, 17-40mm f4 L, 50 1.4, 580EX, 2x 580EXII, Canon 1.4x TC, 300 f4 IS L, 100mm 2.8 Macro, 100-400 IS L
    Other Gear: Olympus E-PL1, Pan 20 1.7, Fuji 3D Camera, Lensbaby 2.0, Tamron 28-75 2.8, Alien Bees lighting, CyberSyncs, Domke, HONL, FlipIt.
    ~ Gear Pictures
  • liflanderliflander wag more. bark less. Registered Users Posts: 339 Major grins
    edited May 25, 2010
    Re: Weekly Discussion Thread: Low-light scenarios (what are your preferences?)
    John,
    Thanks for the reply. I guess the next question is, do you use higher ISO to capture the background ambient light, assuming shooting subject with flash?
    Also, will you choose to shoot no flash at ISO 6400 or use flash in same situation at low ISO?

    Regarding the soccer image in my wedding section, that was a destination wedding weekend, so I captured all sorts of stuff, but I take your point that I should stick to wedding pics.

    Thanks,
    Mark

    LiflanderPhotography.com
  • mmmattmmmatt Big Grimace Registered Users Posts: 1,347 Major grins
    edited May 25, 2010
    JohnBiggs wrote: »
    No ISO is too high. You use the lowest ISO you need to get the shot. If the situation demands 6400, then you use 6400. The image is what it is, but at least you captured it. I know I see great results from 3200 on my particular body, but not as great as if it were ISO 400.

    These days I pretty much start at 1600 indoors. Most ceremonies don't allow flash.
    Yeah, John is right. you do what ya gotta do to get the shot your looking for. there are worse things than high iso noise. If you nail the exposure and your composition doesn't have too much dynamic range, then high-iso on most modern dslr's is acceptable. I think the d300 is a decent high-iso body but I'm a canon guy so I can't say how it compares to my bodies or what is ideal for it.

    it is about planning your shot though... do you want the ambient? then you need to increase iso and/or reduce shutter speed to get the look you are after. Do you want to have the background darker? If so then you raise the shutter speed and/or lower the iso. Unfortunately, there really isn't some magical setting that you can just "do it all" with. Well you can, but your images will not provide the variety and creativity that most of us are after.

    Ambient is a different animal (to me anyways) I don't often choose to shoot indoors without flash unless I am seeing some great light. Most of the time I will either make my own light or use my flash as fill. Sometimes it is just so nice I turn the flash off, but for me that is pretty rare.

    Matt
    My Smugmug site

    Bodies: Canon 5d mkII, 5d, 40d
    Lenses: 24-70 f2.8L, 70-200 f4.0L, 135 f2L, 85 f1.8, 50 1.8, 100 f2.8 macro, Tamron 28-105 f2.8
    Flash: 2x 580 exII, Canon ST-E2, 2x Pocket Wizard flexTT5, and some lower end studio strobes
  • JohnBiggsJohnBiggs General grins Registered Users Posts: 841 Major grins
    edited May 25, 2010
    liflander wrote: »
    John,
    Thanks for the reply. I guess the next question is, do you use higher ISO to capture the background ambient light, assuming shooting subject with flash?
    Also, will you choose to shoot no flash at ISO 6400 or use flash in same situation at low ISO?

    Regarding the soccer image in my wedding section, that was a destination wedding weekend, so I captured all sorts of stuff, but I take your point that I should stick to wedding pics.

    Thanks,
    Mark

    LiflanderPhotography.com

    I figured it was part of some wedding but it would confuse most people. Same with the tennis racket pic.

    I prefer to stay below 6400. During a reception I am deciding between the ambient and ISO the most. I'll usually stick to 1600 and use fill flash plus the additional strobes I have in the room. I have gone to 3200 though.

    I'm trying to stop using the mounted flash as my main light. When my flash is just a fill the pictures look so much better. Getting a fast prime has really made the difference here. f1.4 lets me use ISO 1600 where f2.8 would have me at 6400 or using the flash as a main and ambient 2 stops below.
    Canon Gear: 5D MkII, 30D, 85 1.2 L, 70-200 2.8 IS L, 17-40mm f4 L, 50 1.4, 580EX, 2x 580EXII, Canon 1.4x TC, 300 f4 IS L, 100mm 2.8 Macro, 100-400 IS L
    Other Gear: Olympus E-PL1, Pan 20 1.7, Fuji 3D Camera, Lensbaby 2.0, Tamron 28-75 2.8, Alien Bees lighting, CyberSyncs, Domke, HONL, FlipIt.
    ~ Gear Pictures
  • liflanderliflander wag more. bark less. Registered Users Posts: 339 Major grins
    edited May 25, 2010
    Re: Weekly Discussion Thread: Low-light scenarios (what are your preferences?)
    Do you ever get too shallow dof shooting at f1.4 or even 2.8? I usually shoot between f4 andf8.

    LiflanderPhotography.com
  • JohnBiggsJohnBiggs General grins Registered Users Posts: 841 Major grins
    edited May 26, 2010
    liflander wrote: »
    Do you ever get too shallow dof shooting at f1.4 or even 2.8? I usually shoot between f4 andf8.

    LiflanderPhotography.com


    I like the shallow look and it's not biting me as much as I first thought it would. Perhaps its just the great AF on the 5D. Of course you have to be very careful if dealing with 2 people at close range, but if you have one subject shallow is fine.

    It's all a balance, and there is no right answer. I just like to get the ambient very close to proper exposure and that can be done without dropping to 1.4 but at an exchange for more noise or potential blur.
    Canon Gear: 5D MkII, 30D, 85 1.2 L, 70-200 2.8 IS L, 17-40mm f4 L, 50 1.4, 580EX, 2x 580EXII, Canon 1.4x TC, 300 f4 IS L, 100mm 2.8 Macro, 100-400 IS L
    Other Gear: Olympus E-PL1, Pan 20 1.7, Fuji 3D Camera, Lensbaby 2.0, Tamron 28-75 2.8, Alien Bees lighting, CyberSyncs, Domke, HONL, FlipIt.
    ~ Gear Pictures
  • tenoverthenosetenoverthenose Major grins Registered Users Posts: 815 Major grins
    edited May 26, 2010
    ^^^ Great focus on the 5D? You must have a magical 5D!

    I have found that I really like working wide open at a distance, especially with the 85L at about 20-30 feet from the subject. It creates a magical look, but I can keep two people in focus at that distance. That is if I can get them in focus in the first place :)
  • JohnBiggsJohnBiggs General grins Registered Users Posts: 841 Major grins
    edited May 26, 2010
    ^^^ Great focus on the 5D? You must have a magical 5D!

    I have found that I really like working wide open at a distance, especially with the 85L at about 20-30 feet from the subject. It creates a magical look, but I can keep two people in focus at that distance. That is if I can get them in focus in the first place :)

    Yeah it's a inside joke for canonites
    Canon Gear: 5D MkII, 30D, 85 1.2 L, 70-200 2.8 IS L, 17-40mm f4 L, 50 1.4, 580EX, 2x 580EXII, Canon 1.4x TC, 300 f4 IS L, 100mm 2.8 Macro, 100-400 IS L
    Other Gear: Olympus E-PL1, Pan 20 1.7, Fuji 3D Camera, Lensbaby 2.0, Tamron 28-75 2.8, Alien Bees lighting, CyberSyncs, Domke, HONL, FlipIt.
    ~ Gear Pictures
  • mmmattmmmatt Big Grimace Registered Users Posts: 1,347 Major grins
    edited May 26, 2010
    ^^^ Great focus on the 5D? You must have a magical 5D!

    I have found that I really like working wide open at a distance, especially with the 85L at about 20-30 feet from the subject. It creates a magical look, but I can keep two people in focus at that distance. That is if I can get them in focus in the first place :)
    no kidding huh! I wish I could come up with 4x the dough and get a 1ds, but I will say that the AF is my only complaint on the 5d line.

    DOF is very tricky when shooting a fast tele lenses. Moving subjects can move only an inch or two and all the sudden they are out of the focus plane. Bright light you can go servo but in dim lighting you have to wait for the beep... well at least in 5d land! I think the d300 may be a little better in that regard.

    3 (and only 3 things) things effect dof:
    aperture
    focal length
    distance to subject

    center point is "true" focus, and in the area of acceptable focus you get roughly 1/3 of that area in front of the focus point and 2/3's behind it. So you must focus your camera on the point closest to you to that you want to be in focus. Two people, even standing right next to one another, wont necessarily both be in focus, but if you focus on the closest point of the closest person you have a good shot of making it happen.

    Then of course you have to think of your shooting style. My lens of choice for this stuff is my 135 f2L and on a FF 5d, at f2, shooting a head crop, you can easily put the eye in focus and blur the end of the eyelashes... noses and ears then become inappropriate bokeh. a 1/2 body shot will get the eye but still blur noses and ears. If you shoot "focus and recompose" style it can be tough to maintain your focus point. I find myself shooting a little wider with primes for this reason and then just because foot zooming isn't always doable. Shooting primes, especially fast primes, is not the easiest thing in the world, but doable if you have a basic understanding of DOF and what effects it.

    It is also important to note that even when you don't need f1.4 or f2, your camera is still taking advantage of the open aperture to help with your AF. That is probably the biggest reason I use fast primes. I like the look and all, but a zoom lens would be much easier to compose with if I could get it to focus in low lighting!

    Matt

    here is an example of the 135F2L at f2 and closest possible focus distance. You can see how thin the dof is by looking at her veil http://www.lightcraft-photography.com/photos/617427294_jx83K-X3-1.jpg
    My Smugmug site

    Bodies: Canon 5d mkII, 5d, 40d
    Lenses: 24-70 f2.8L, 70-200 f4.0L, 135 f2L, 85 f1.8, 50 1.8, 100 f2.8 macro, Tamron 28-105 f2.8
    Flash: 2x 580 exII, Canon ST-E2, 2x Pocket Wizard flexTT5, and some lower end studio strobes
  • liflanderliflander wag more. bark less. Registered Users Posts: 339 Major grins
    edited May 27, 2010
    Thanks for your replies. Matt, the veil shot is a great one! I love the eye in focus behind the out of focus veil.

    Yes, the D300 seems to do very well with low light autofocus. I mostly use the Nikon 18-70 3.5-4.5 AF-S. Usually shooting between f4 and f8, and can very reliably get fast spot-on focus on moving subjects, as well as properly exposed on-camera flash using TTL metering. Camera is usually on Manual exposure 1/60 iso 800-ish.

    I'd like to play with/own a fast zoom in this range to try more shallow dof.

    Cheers,

    Mark
  • Matthew SavilleMatthew Saville Wedding Photographer Southern CaliforniaRegistered Users, Retired Mod Posts: 3,352 Major grins
    edited May 29, 2010
    I think that it is a professional's job to master both flash and ambient picture making. Sometimes the light is just so gorgeous, you'd be doing a disservice to your clients and their beautiful day if you blasted everything with flash. And yet, if the light just gets pitch-black, and f/1.2 at ISO 12800 still isn't cutting it, ...you gotta be able to keep shooting! So the art of the bounce is something you have to be extremely confident with. THEN, to top it off, what if the reception is outdoors, and there's no ceiling nor walls to bounce off of. This will require off-camera flash, unless you want your entire wedding reception to have that deer-in-the-headlights look.

    Therefore, like I said a professional owes it to their clients to master all types of scenarios and all types of lighting techniques.

    Personally, I do prefer natural light. If I can get away with shooting grainy B&W and maintain sharpness, I'll do it for most shots. I feel that it's important to have at least a few photos that capture the true, un-altered ambiance of the wedding day...

    And even though that's my artistic and professional preference, there is certainly a geek inside me that loves to rock flash techniques. So if the situation calls for it, I don't hesitate to get out the strobes and light things up.

    =Matt=


    837866795_JQCDy-L.jpg
    My first thought is always of light.” – Galen Rowell
    My SmugMug PortfolioMy Astro-Landscape Photo BlogDgrin Weddings Forum
  • mjoshi123mjoshi123 Major grins Registered Users Posts: 216 Major grins
    edited January 18, 2012
    Okay all the gurus of exposure and low light situation here is my question for you - I did shot a freinds wedding and followed advise of some to stick to higher ISO - I kept it at 1600ISO on my Canon 60D and shutter speed somewhere around 80 to 160 depending upon situation. Used Sigma 30mm F1.4 & Sigma 17-50F2.8, This was indoor wedding in a banquet hall with all fluroscent bulbs glowing their "super nice" yellow lights making people look bit yellow even to naked eye (forget about camera). I used my 580EX II mounted on flash bracket to raise it above camera. Now I'm editing pictures and most of them have digital grain that comes with higher ISO + yellow tint because of indoor lighting of yellow and red lights. I shot everything in RAW and in Manual mode so I could adjust WB in LR3 later but when I do adjust WB and go with auto WB feature of LR3 it makes pictures come out with blue tint so I've to raise the temperature to compensate for that.
    My bigger question is how do you measure correct exposure because when I see thru view finder on 60D it clearly shows me that my image at shutter speed 125 + F4.0 + ISO 1600 is clearly underexposed and my external flash has to do heavy lifting of compensating for that underexposed light but after I shoot and see the histogram it shows more biased towards left (darker) side in LR3. How do you guys handle this kind of situation ? I bounced flash from 580EX II off of ceiling (ceiling height was somewhere around 25ft and not white ceiling but some pink colored ceiling) and sometimes from side wall if I was close to wall (same issue wall was pink color wall not white or off white wall).

    Next event that I shoot was even worse - it was for my friends dance group performing in much lower light than wedding hall light and at that time I stuck with ISO800 max and images were much more acceptable compared to wedding images i.e. look very clean and very less digital noise.
  • babowcbabowc Casual amateur photog Registered Users Posts: 510 Major grins
    edited January 18, 2012
    I noticed with my D700, which usually has great Auto WB, that it was missing the WB in very dimly lit places.
    I went to a cafe with my friends a couple nights ago and Auto WB never got it right.. skin tones were either too yellow or red, so I did manual WB at temperature 2700 and it came out perfect..

    I discovered the manual WB after fiddling in LR3 with those shots that looked terrible with the Auto WB.
    Wrong WB is (has been) usually a pain to correct in LR3, despite it's versatility!

    I was cranking ISO 3200 with f1.4 ~ 2.8
    -Mike Jin
    D800
    16/2.8, f1.4G primes, f2.8 trio, 105/200 macro, SB900.
    It never gets easier, you just get better.
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