A&P Need tips on low light shooting

Discussion in 'Lifestyle' started by chojin, Mar 11, 2004.

  1. chojin

    chojin You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance

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    More specifically, at a night club. A friend of mine who opened one up near csulb wants me to take pictures of the events for him. I told him I am not qualified for it nor do I have the proper equipment, but he still insisted. :dunno:

    Here is a link to pictures my predecessor took clicky

    I want to take better pictures than him, of course. I will be using a Canon A70. ISO goes up to 400 which is where I will set it at. Aperture will be f2.8. Shutter speed...I'm thinking at least 1/200. Should I leave white balance on auto? What about exposure compensation? What about pictures where there is smoke? And in direct and flashing lights? :o Of course I will tinker with the settings but I want to start off in decent shape.

    I also want these pictures to come out a little "artsy" but is it even possible just shooting people as they come and go?

    One more thing, what is a good tripod with a budget of $40. Something that can extend to about 70 inches. And where to purchase it?
     
  2. Jcolman

    Jcolman OT Supporter

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    Your basic problem, which you've already identified, is that you don't have the proper equipment nor the experience to do the job. Your predecessor simply used a flash attached to his camera. This will give you flat light that falls off rapidly in the background, leaving the foreground properly exposed (or overexposed) while the background goes dark.

    If you really want to do a good job and get creative, you're going to need to mount multiple flash units, linked by "slave units" around the nightclub. This is easier and cheaper than you might think. A small flash unit can be purchased for under $50. A slave unit (which is a light activated switch that fires the strobe when it senses another strobe firing) can be purchased for about $20-25. Three or four of these mounted in the ceiling or on the walls and aimed at the crowd will give you "pools" of light. Use a primary stobe on your camera to light the foreground.

    Forget the tripod unless you want to try some time exposure shots. You can achieve some cool effects by shooting a time exposure of about two-four seconds of people moving, then firing a strobe to "freeze" the action during the exposure. For best results have a buddy hold a strobe away from the camera but aimed at the crowd.

    As for your white balance, it should be set to "daylight" when using strobes or to "tungsten" when using available light. However, I think that you're going to be dissapointed if you simply try to shoot in available light. Nightclubs simply don't have enought light to make decent photos. Don't worry about exposure compensation for smoke.

    Good luck. Your best bet is to practice some shots prior to the big night.
     
  3. chojin

    chojin You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance

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    Can you go into more detail about this? Or link to a good site with more info?


    I probably won't use a tripod much for this gig, but I'd like to have one for other things. I prefer nature/landscape and black&white photography.


    Most definitely. Next week will probably be the practice night and 2 weeks from now will be my public debut.
     
  4. Jcolman

    Jcolman OT Supporter

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    Basically a "slave unit" is a strobe light that is usually not physically connected to the camera. You fire your main strobe and the light from it triggers the other "slave" strobes via a light sensative trigger. The slave strobes add additional light in the areas you want to light. If you look at the shots from the gallery you posted, you'll see that only the foreground is lit, the background is dark. Slave units would help to light up the dark background. The other trick is that you need to know how and where to set the lights, and what aperture to set your lens for a proper exposure.

    The beauty of slave units are that you can get several cheap strobe lights with slave triggers, tape them around an area, and they'll fire off whenever you shoot a shot. The downside is that if anyone else is taking flash photos, the slaves will fire as well, depletating your batteries and recharge time.

    If I were you, I probably wouldn't bother to purchase a couple hundred bucks worth of slave units for one job.

    You might want to experiment with handholding your camera on a long (1/2 sec or longer) exposure time and using the flash from your cameras strobe. The longer exposure gives you a blurry shot but the strobe will "freeze" part of the picture. It's a cool effect and I think that's what you're looking for.
     
  5. chojin

    chojin You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance

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    If my camera doesn't have a hot shoe or sync connector, does that mean I will be forced to use a slave unit? I don't particularly like the built-in flash unit on my camera. I avoid using it whenever possible.

    Is this slow sync? and any camera can do this?

    Kind of. It is neat and I will definitely use it but this isn't necessarily what I meant if you are referring to "artsy." I can't explain it, really. Well, only vaguely. I'm looking for a certain "quality" in these pictures that you can easily differentiate them from just shots of people up close. Somewhat like how props and lighting make a black and white photo more symbolic or meaningful.
     
  6. Jcolman

    Jcolman OT Supporter

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    If your camera doesn't have a hot shoe or sync, then you have no choice but to use the built in flash. If it's too bright for your tastes, try taping a double layer of tissue over the flash. Don't cover up the sensor underneath.

    You should be able to fire your flash at any shutter slower than 1/60 of a sec. But I don't know your camera so I'm only guessing here.

    It sounds like your artsy approach is more about framing than lighting. All good. Just remember that moving people are harder to frame. You might want to shoot the event in B/W with very fast film. I had pretty good luck years ago pushing Tri-X film two stops to ASA 1200. Any pro photography place can process the film for you. Post some shots after the big event so we can see how you did. Good luck.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2004
  7. johnson

    johnson New Member

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  8. Jcolman

    Jcolman OT Supporter

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  9. chojin

    chojin You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance

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    I like the tissue over flash idea :big grin:
    I've flipped through my camera manual and I saw nothing mentioning a hot shoe or sync so I don't think I have one. I'm going to visit a camera store next week to check out slave units and strobes. We'll see what happens.

    Thanks for all your tips Jcolman. You've helped me immensely. And I'll be sure to post pics for everyone to see.
     
  10. johnson

    johnson New Member

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    You didnt have to flip through the manual to see if it has a hot shoe. :slap: :wtc:

    These camera's fire a pre-flash so you need to set it to manual mode for most external flashes to work.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2004
  11. gubment cheese

    gubment cheese New Member

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    The A70 has neither a hot shoe or sync connection.

    Are there any options left for external flash/lighting? (I have the same camera).
     
  12. Jcolman

    Jcolman OT Supporter

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    Your options are to use slave units. These will fire when they "see" the light from your built in flash. The biggest problem is that you cannot alter the direction of the A70's flash so you may end up with more direct light than you want or need.
     
  13. gubment cheese

    gubment cheese New Member

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    Will slave units work if I try to diffuese the built in flash with a later of tissue paper like someone has suggested here?
     
  14. Jcolman

    Jcolman OT Supporter

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    Sorry to take so long in answering, I've been travelling for the past week. The answer is "yes".
    The slave unit will still respond to the strobe unless you've placed it more than about 50' away.
    Many slave units have a sensativity switch that allows then to be adjusted.
     

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