Screw up! How to handle outdoor unpredictable lighting during procession?

saltydogsaltydog Mona Lisa SmilePosts: 350Registered Users Major grins
edited October 30, 2014 in Technique
Hello Dgrinners,

So yesterday I got an assignment to cover an elementary school's fall festival and while I thought this would be a fun and easy gig, I totally screwed up one of the major components and I am sure my boss is gonna rip my head off once he sees the pics. The festivities included an annual "Walk Against Autism" of faculty and students around the school building, which was lined with leafy trees which - you guessed it - cast harsh shadows on an exceptionally bright & sunny fall day at exactly noon, with the direction of the light constantly changing on our app. 3 - 4 minute 360 degree walk around the facilities. I have a high end Nikon speedlight, which supposedly works great on TTL/BBL and since there was no time to meter anything, that's what I had it set to. Didn' t work at all since it consistently blew out the faces of the first 2 - 3 rows of walkers, no matter where I focused (sunlight was incredibly bright anyways). Thus I quickly turned it off and relied on my camera meter, although I typically like to shoot in Manual, but again, there was no time for that and the light kept changing by the seconds. Faces came out half blown out/half too shadowy in almost every pic, ugh.

Any experienced Wedding/Event Photos here who deal with outdoor processions in unpredictable lighting a lot and who would have some advice for me??? How could I have handled this better? Open for any suggestions, thanks!
all that we see or seem
is but a dream within a dream
- Edgar Allan Poe

http://www.saltydogphotography.com
http://saltydogphotography.blogspot.com

Comments

  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,418Super Moderators moderator
    edited October 26, 2014
    I am waiting to see how folks suggest dealing with this issue, mottled sunlight and shade can be quite challenging, and always was, even with film...
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • AlexSharkAlexShark Canonizer Posts: 198Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 26, 2014
    I'd ditch the flash, up ISO to one stop higher than necessary, use Av (typically at f/5.6), Ev -1 (to underexpose a stop), AF and focus on mid body sections, burst mode, and shoot away. Many shots will be trash, but many will be real good. The Ev -1 will virtually guarantee that most faces will not be blown out.

    I use the same technique for shooting stage productions when light does not depend on me, is changing at a whim, and there's no flash allowed anyway. There I underexpose by Ev -1.66 at least.
    Photography is about what does not meet the eye
    Be my guest: Alex Braverman Photography
  • saltydogsaltydog Mona Lisa Smile Posts: 350Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 27, 2014
    AlexShark wrote: »
    I'd ditch the flash, up ISO to one stop higher than necessary, use Av (typically at f/5.6), Ev -1 (to underexpose a stop), AF and focus on mid body sections, burst mode, and shoot away. Many shots will be trash, but many will be real good. The Ev -1 will virtually guarantee that most faces will not be blown out.

    I use the same technique for shooting stage productions when light does not depend on me, is changing at a whim, and there's no flash allowed anyway. There I underexpose by Ev -1.66 at least.

    Thank you AlexShark, that sounds like very solid advice. I might test it out on a leafy jogging path or something similar to see what kind of results I get!
    all that we see or seem
    is but a dream within a dream
    - Edgar Allan Poe

    http://www.saltydogphotography.com
    http://saltydogphotography.blogspot.com
  • SamSam San Jose CA Posts: 7,418Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 27, 2014
    How about posting a couple of images?

    Sam
  • AlexSharkAlexShark Canonizer Posts: 198Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 28, 2014
    saltydog wrote: »
    Thank you AlexShark, that sounds like very solid advice. I might test it out on a leafy jogging path or something similar to see what kind of results I get!

    Forgot to mention: shoot RAW. My advice will not work with jpeg. You need a solid latitude of 1-2 stops either way in post processing.
    Photography is about what does not meet the eye
    Be my guest: Alex Braverman Photography
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,418Super Moderators moderator
    edited October 28, 2014
    The next step after Alex's suggestion is to shoot 3 frame high speed brackets to capture HDR files - typically + or - 2 stops and then render the three bracketed frames into HDR files. This is going to involve some work, but the merge to HDR plug in in Lightroom can do it, to give you + or - 10 stops of exposure in Lightroom to play with and similar latitude with the shadows and highlight sliders as well.

    You will want to use as high a shutter speeds as possible, as you will want your + 2 stop frame to have a shutter speed at least 1/125th or so. You will want a camera body the shoots 8-10fps to hand hold these three frame brackets too.
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • saltydogsaltydog Mona Lisa Smile Posts: 350Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 28, 2014
    @ AlexShark - yup, I always shoot raw so that won't be an issue.

    @ Pathfinder - hmmm, a camera that shoots 8-10 fps is a BIT out of my price range. I am a Nikon shooter and would have to invest in a D3 or D4, which would set me back a sweet $4,000 roughly. My camera shoots 6.5 fps I believe. In any case, in the case of this gig (a kid's elementary school fall festival) I am not the one doing PP and I doubt that my boss wants to put his staff on HDR merging - but if I personally were to do a high end shoot, it might be worth going that route, even with my 6.5 fps, so thanks for the input!
    all that we see or seem
    is but a dream within a dream
    - Edgar Allan Poe

    http://www.saltydogphotography.com
    http://saltydogphotography.blogspot.com
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,418Super Moderators moderator
    edited October 28, 2014
    I rather doubt anyone would really try my suggestion of HDR shooting of moving columns of people, but in really mottled lighting, it would possibly give you some more latitude in image processing, but also a lot more work, as well.
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • AlexSharkAlexShark Canonizer Posts: 198Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 29, 2014
    pathfinder wrote: »
    I rather doubt anyone would really try my suggestion of HDR shooting of moving columns of people, but in really mottled lighting, it would possibly give you some more latitude in image processing, but also a lot more work, as well.

    HDR works when applied to the identical scene. This is not the case.
    Photography is about what does not meet the eye
    Be my guest: Alex Braverman Photography
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,418Super Moderators moderator
    edited October 29, 2014
    It works with waterfalls, and running water, why not people if shot at a high enough frame rate, Alex? The de-ghosting algorithms are pretty good at times. You can even choose the frame you want prioritized with some of the software these days.

    Not for everybody, I agree, but when you have large contrast ranges, it is one of the tools capable of dealing with the contrast ranges.

    You can still use your technique on one of the three bracketed frames if you prefer that version as well, you burn no bridges with HFR 3 frame brackets.
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • SamSam San Jose CA Posts: 7,418Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 29, 2014
    pathfinder wrote: »
    It works with waterfalls, and running water, why not people if shot at a high enough frame rate, Alex? The de-ghosting algorithms are pretty good at times. You can even choose the frame you want prioritized with some of the software these days.

    Not for everybody, I agree, but when you have large contrast ranges, it is one of the tools capable of dealing with the contrast ranges.

    You can still use your technique on one of the three bracketed frames if you prefer that version as well, you burn no bridges with HFR 3 frame brackets.

    I am going to try and remember this and give it a try. I would never try it out of the blue without practicing first. This could be very interesting for wedding, low light images if it will work in the real world.

    Sam
  • AlexSharkAlexShark Canonizer Posts: 198Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 29, 2014
    pathfinder wrote: »
    It works with waterfalls, and running water, why not people if shot at a high enough frame rate, Alex? The de-ghosting algorithms are pretty good at times.

    De-ghosting merely uses one of the three frames to leave the moving objects in, and subtracts the difference from the other two. Which kills the advantage of HDR.

    But heck, I might be wrong. Show me!
    Photography is about what does not meet the eye
    Be my guest: Alex Braverman Photography
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,418Super Moderators moderator
    edited October 29, 2014
    Sam. I would not recommend shooting HDR in low light for a wedding, as the shutter speeds will be way too long in low light for hand held shooting, but in a sunlit scene, if you are shooting at ISO 400+, even your long exposure ( + 2-3 EV ) should have a shutter speed compatible with hand holding - usually...

    Alex, I completely agree that HDR is usually thought of for static landscape type images, but if you shoot at 8-10 frames per second, there is not that much movement occurring, unless people are moving pretty fast, faster say, than a processional pace. I am thinking of a wedding procession, with their stately cadence, step, pause, step, pause, etc. where one could easily grab three fast frames with very little subject movement.

    To be honest, I have never tried it with walking people, but I do know that some moving objects, like waterfalls, capture just fine in HDR despite their intrinsic movement.

    One can create lots of HDR images these days, without haloes and noise, and grunge, such that most folks never really notice that they were shot in HDR. Only photographers who look at the detail in the highlights and in the shadows are aware that the image must have required more than one frame. Having an exposure slider in Lightroom with + and - 10 stops really can be helpful with contrast ranges.
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • lifeinfocuslifeinfocus Phils Imaging Posts: 1,461Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 30, 2014
    AlexShark wrote: »
    I'd ditch the flash, up ISO to one stop higher than necessary, use Av (typically at f/5.6), Ev -1 (to underexpose a stop), AF and focus on mid body sections, burst mode, and shoot away. Many shots will be trash, but many will be real good. The Ev -1 will virtually guarantee that most faces will not be blown out.

    I use the same technique for shooting stage productions when light does not depend on me, is changing at a whim, and there's no flash allowed anyway. There I underexpose by Ev -1.66 at least.

    Silly question, but by mid section do you mean mid section of the people in the procession?

    Seems like this discussion could be transferred to Shots- Wedding.

    Phil
    http://www.PhilsImaging.com
    "You don't take a photograph, you make it." ~Ansel Adams
    Phil
  • AlexSharkAlexShark Canonizer Posts: 198Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 30, 2014
    Silly question, but by mid section do you mean mid section of the people in the procession?

    Yeah. A stressed out photographer who is busy with the lighting situation is likely to focus on faces, cut off legs, and have the blue yonder taking up half the shot. Focus on bellybuttons and the compositions will be mostly good.
    Photography is about what does not meet the eye
    Be my guest: Alex Braverman Photography
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