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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 06 Nov 2017 (Monday) 10:29
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Ever do a photo shoot and did a crapy job??

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Nov 06, 2017 10:29 |  #1

I did a photo shoot of our General Staff meeting this year. I was all ready to shoot and someone decided to dim the lights (a lot). I panicked. I knew if I used my flash, it would get on everyone's nerves so I just boosted my iso to 1400 on my canon 7D and used my 85mm f1.8. but it wasn't good enough. I had to put my camera on a tripod and the fastest shutter speed I got was about 1/13-1/40 of a second. almost all the pics are really grainy and out of focus. I was really upset. this never happened to me before. I don't know how to use my flash but a bell rang in my head and I figured if I put my SS to 1/250 and used my flash, I could have had some useable photos. URRRGGGHH.

has this ever happened to anyone? you thought you were ready but Oooppss...

Anita W.

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Post edited 8 months ago by MalVeauX. (4 edits in all)
Nov 06, 2017 10:37 |  #2

That kind of situation is exactly why I take a flash or three to everything that I'm shooting. If they don't want me to use flash, then I switch to an ultrawide angle lens (for me commonly the 17-40 on full frame) or 35mm F2 IS, throw ISO up as high as it needs to be. I wouldn't use telephoto in the dark without a flash, even with IS (if it were available...) because the subjects move and you saw the results of that.

Though you could have put your ISO to 6400~12,800 and been fine. Why did you select ISO 1400 at all? Did you look at your meter to see what ISO you needed to maintain an appropriate shutter? Noisy images are better than zero images.

I've had equipment fail on shoots, but I take backups. Most annoying for me is when a main light fails and miss a specific shot that cannot be re-done due to the light misfiring or not firing or anything like that. But, this is where backups come in, I always have a setup just for natural light shooting just in case. I do not show up unprepared for two situations though (such as well lit venue, and no light venue; you have to be able handle both).

I think it's safe to say we've all done a shoot and didn't like the results. I know I've done plenty of portrait sessions and didn't care for most of the results. But as long as you deliver and the client is satisfied, move on. But, you have to deliver.


In the future, learn to use your flash (as you mentioned). Getting on people's nerves is one thing, doing a shoot for a client and having zero images to turn in is another.

Bounced ETTL flash is one of the easiest and best tools ever for event shooting. I don't go anywhere without the ability to do ETTL bounced flash and a 2nd set of batteries. You can turn a poor venue into a well lit event with just one flash. And it's so easy. ETTL is just so useful.

The on-camera flash with the 7D, you could have improvised and put a little piece of paper or napkin in front it as a diffuser or even a bounce surface and had decent light falling on the subject. I've used a sheet of paper to bounce light up and diffuse light forward with on-camera flash (looks loads better than direct flash).

Or, set your flash as fill level and let ETTL do the rest, for direct flash. You'd still have gotten usable images.

Very best,

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Nov 06, 2017 10:37 |  #3

Yeah, retirement do at work two weeks ago, not a 'flash' guy, but thought I knew what I was doing from home studio stuff, turns out, I didn't, so many variables, everything changing so fast. They were all very happy with what I did get, I wasn't, and I can't say I enjoyed the experience, certainly elevated wedding 'togs in my eyes, and they were pretty high already....

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Nov 06, 2017 10:45 |  #4

Why not just ask to turn the lights back on?

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Nov 06, 2017 12:18 |  #5

gjl711 wrote in post #18489913 (external link)
Why not just ask to turn the lights back on?

they decided to put candles on the tables so lights were dimed and going to stay that way. Last minute decision that I wasn't happy with and wasn't consulted. Next year, I WILL use my flash. if someone says something, I'll just tell them "suck it up buttercup!"

Anita W.

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Nov 06, 2017 12:29 |  #6

anitaw2 wrote in post #18490010 (external link)
Next year, I WILL use my flash. if someone says something, I'll just tell them "suck it up buttercup!"

Next year, talk with the lighting controller in advance or with the person who engaged you. Say what you'll need to do your job.

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Nov 06, 2017 12:34 |  #7

I haven't used a 7D but I have used my 1Dx in a similar situation. The file was shot with a 50L at 1/80, F2.8 ISO 800 with moderate light levels and processed with CaptureOne. I have found that a RAW file can be brought up about 2 stops with good results. The most important part is to get the focus otherwise it's simply not usable. Experience and testing before you're put into the fire is essential.

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Nov 06, 2017 15:59 |  #8

I'm just a hobbyist, so I never think I'm ready. :)

But when doing office event shooting, after I learned how to use a speedlight, I always had one and a BFT handy, just in case. The black foamie thing is something I read about on Neil van Nierkerk's Tangents website (external link). It's basically a small sheet of black art foam ($1 at Michael's) that forms a short semi-snoot around the head of the flash, to flag off any direct light from the head while bouncing. The big bonus of using one (aside from shots with no direct flash in them) is that it makes it very easy to avoid blasting any innocent bystanders in the face with your flash. Yes, the flash burst is still disruptive, but it's not painful for the poor dude standing in the path of your bounce direction. This gives you a bit more confidence to use the flash.

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Post edited 8 months ago by F2Bthere.
Nov 10, 2017 01:10 |  #9

I don't know a pro who doesn't encounter challenges even after decades of shooting. In fact, I often think of photography as complicated, real time problem solving. The problem may be how to make the glass bottle look good next to the black box or how to deal with the flower-girl having a melt-down and the bride's mother's insistence on three extra group shots with said flower girl.

The distinguishing factor is that experience makes solving the problems smoother and easier. You have seen enough challenges to have a good sense of what to try. And you have learned to stay calm while you manage your way to a solution. Sometimes it's a technical solution. Sometimes it's a people and expectations management solution.

I recommend experimenting with higher ISO setting. And with the flash, especially bounce. Next try a combination of the two, so you can get some ambient and some flash, which will use less flash power (lower annoyance, faster recycle time). And then start exploring off-camera flash options (Strobist 101 and 201 highly recommended and it's free!). This will give you a number of skills to solve technical challenges.

C&C always welcomed...
On my images, of course, and on my words as well--as long as it's constructive :).
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Nov 10, 2017 18:51 |  #10

With conditions like you described, Id just put my gear back in the Jeep. Or flash on.


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Ever do a photo shoot and did a crapy job??
FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
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