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Alien Bees for huge group

jpcjpc Registered Users Posts: 840 Major grins
edited August 16, 2013 in Technique
I've been hired to shoot about 500 students huddled together forming the school's logo. The nice weather plan is to shoot from a rooftop.. no big deal. The backup plan is to shoot from a lift, indoors, in a facility with 30-ft white ceilings and a fair amount of natural light.

In addition to my speedlights, I have (2) B400 and (1) B800. I was thinking of bouncing the two B400 off the ceiling, but it's such a large group and such a huge space, I really have no idea if it will have any impact. I'm sure I can make it work with natural light, but I always try to use flash when possible, but in this case, I don't know if it would be worth it.

Any thoughts?

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    ian408ian408 Administrators Posts: 21,923 moderator
    edited August 15, 2013
    That's a large group of folks and from an inside perspective, it might be difficult to evenly light them with what you have.

    Will you have access to soft boxes (even home made with inexpensive white sheets will work)? How much time will you have to setup a test inside? Do you have access more strobes if you need them?

    First thing I'd suggest is to try and get some measurements. Size of the room, layout of the people, etc.. Then work on what kind of exposure you want to achieve. Finally, work on the lights you will need to do the job using the Inverse-Square Law.

    Good luck!
    Moderator Journeys/Sports/Big Picture :: Need some help with dgrin?
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    jpcjpc Registered Users Posts: 840 Major grins
    edited August 15, 2013
    I have lots of modifiers, but I don't want to risk losing stops. Also, this group could be 150 feet wide depending upon how deep they're stacked. I don't think I'm going to be able to nail the exact configuration in advance, so I'm probably just going to bring the B800 and two B400 up in the lift with me and fire straight at them.
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    ian408ian408 Administrators Posts: 21,923 moderator
    edited August 15, 2013
    I think you need to think about what you want to accomplish. If you have 500 people, that's at least 1000sf. Probably more if you're trying to make some kind of shape. Can you hang the lights for better coverage?
    Moderator Journeys/Sports/Big Picture :: Need some help with dgrin?
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    jpcjpc Registered Users Posts: 840 Major grins
    edited August 15, 2013
    Hanging the lights isn't an option, but that would be ideal.
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    ian408ian408 Administrators Posts: 21,923 moderator
    edited August 15, 2013
    I guess the last option, pray for good weather, is it then.
    Moderator Journeys/Sports/Big Picture :: Need some help with dgrin?
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    jpcjpc Registered Users Posts: 840 Major grins
    edited August 15, 2013
    There's enough ambient light for me to get a proper exposure without flash. I was really just unsure if the B400's and B800 would be powerful enough to bounce. It sounds like you don't think they will be, but even if they add a little straight on, it will be worth it. I'll hope for nice weather but I'll be fine either way thumb.gif
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    ian408ian408 Administrators Posts: 21,923 moderator
    edited August 15, 2013
    I have an idea what a 1000sf looks like and I'm thinking you don't have enough light spaced out to evenly light the group/fill the shadows. Plus, I have no idea what this shape is supposed to look like. The other part I worry about is although there's a lot of natural light, if the weather turns bad, will you still have enough light?
    Moderator Journeys/Sports/Big Picture :: Need some help with dgrin?
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    jpcjpc Registered Users Posts: 840 Major grins
    edited August 15, 2013
    There is enough ambient light to get a proper exposure indoors. It's just bonus if I can supplement with flash.
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    ian408ian408 Administrators Posts: 21,923 moderator
    edited August 15, 2013
    Absolutely a bonus.

    What I was thinking is the falloff from front to back of the group is going to be pretty great. So spreading out the lights would at least make it more even. Idk. Hard to visualize how to best light or fill without knowing the layout.
    Moderator Journeys/Sports/Big Picture :: Need some help with dgrin?
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    joshhuntnmjoshhuntnm Registered Users Posts: 1,924 Major grins
    edited August 15, 2013
    can you get in the hall and try it?
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    jpcjpc Registered Users Posts: 840 Major grins
    edited August 16, 2013
    I'll be on a lift shooting down on them, so I'm thinking if I have all three AB's right in front of me, it's basically a giant on-camera flash. Again, without bouncing, I know it won't be even coverage, but it will be better than not using flash at all.

    This deal went down pretty quickly, but I am going to try and meter the facility this weekend. I'm thinking I'm going to end up right around iso 1600 @ f4 without flash, so if flash picks me up a stop or two, even better.

    The ceilings are 30 feet. The lift might just end up being up high enough for me to bounce off the ceiling anyway. And then there's the whole acrophobia thing...:D
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    ziggy53ziggy53 Super Moderators Posts: 23,944 moderator
    edited August 16, 2013
    jpc wrote: »
    ... This deal went down pretty quickly, but I am going to try and meter the facility this weekend. ... The ceilings are 30 feet. The lift might just end up being up high enough for me to bounce off the ceiling anyway. And then there's the whole acrophobia thing...:D

    Please do follow through with testing before the event. It's very possible that bouncing "will" help, and testing will prove the point, especially if the outside light infiltration is the same or similar between testing and the event. (I presume that the indoor "facility" has windows, which will vary in indoor contribution by outdoor conditions and time of day.)

    Testing is always a prudent strategy to prove a hypothesis. Recording the results for future reference is another really good idea.
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
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    jpcjpc Registered Users Posts: 840 Major grins
    edited August 16, 2013
    Yes, in an ideal world we could test before every event, in similar conditions, and we would know exactly what to expect. We would also be able to build that extra test time into our bid and still get the job. But sometimes we just have to rely on experience to prepare as best as possible.

    My goal with the original post was to gain insight from someone who had actually tried bouncing similar flashes in a similar situation. As much as I do appreciate everyone's insight, I would still be interested to hear from someone who has actually done something similar. I will be sure and follow-up after the event so that I am able to share my experience.
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    ian408ian408 Administrators Posts: 21,923 moderator
    edited August 16, 2013
    It's like shooting a basketball game but it's not-if you want to try that technique, then put your strobes on stands at the end of the room you're shooting in.
    Moderator Journeys/Sports/Big Picture :: Need some help with dgrin?
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