Just photographed an informal leaving do at work for a highly valued colleague, so amateur, but, I didn't want to let her down, and what a nightmare it was.
The outside shots were snatched in poor light with terrible backgrounds, a closing down council depot so rubbish backgrounds, cones and work vans everywhere, then it got worse.
The venue was a building that had been closed down for years, extensive drill damage to the heavily stained walls where signs and boards had been removed, stained carpets, with a low white ceiling to bounce a flash off, great, but so dirty, it didn't really bounce, as I found out. Just to complicate things, lots of windows in the background to really stuff the exposure. I was going to keep it simple and just shoot on green box, but it was so cluttered and cramped it kept focusing on the wrong thing. So, I went Av with a tightly clustered focusing cluster, but no joy as any half decent depth of field couldn't be achieved as it was using 1/30 shutter speed, and Tv didn't work as it was defaulting to a stupidly small DOF, and manual, my normal set up, didn't work as once I had a decent Shutter of 1/125 and aperture of f6, the ISO was well into noise territory. The light was terrible, really harsh very white light, made everyone look ill with harsh shadows, but at the same time, didn't give off enough light to get decent settings. And to the crux of my problem, the flash didn't seem to make any difference unless I was really close, it was a 430ex II. I'll admit I panicked and didn't prepare, I'm not a flash guy, I've owned it for years but not really used it, so I just thought I'm indoors, I'll pop on the flash, put it all on auto, bounce off the ceiling, go and eat cake. It very quickly fell apart, and as a result it was a very stressful experience, didn't enjoy it all all.
What really threw me was that the camera wasn't showing me the settings for if the flash fired, only for when it didn't fire, so I couldn't predict what was actually going to happen. I ended up with quite a few shots with really shallow DOF and lowish ISO where I would have happily traded a reduction in ISO for more DOF, soooo many group shots had someone OOF, my main reason for failed shots . I must have been getting this wrong, there must be a way of the camera predicting what was going to happen and seeing the settings, but, I can't seem to find out how? This I suspect was the main failure on my part on the day, not the flash ( later ).
I got about 100 usable shots that people are very happy with, not a hundred I'm happy with I hasten to add, once I'd adjusted the exposure ( so many were under exposed ), light temperature, fixed the walls, carpets etc, but at no point during the event did I feel confident I was getting anything usable. A hundred sounds OK as I write it, but there were so many that didn't come out, and I was taking so many to make sure I got good ones I felt I was really intruding to peoples space. So, looking back, would a better flash have given me more usable settings? I see the 430 has got a GN of 43, the better units 60, so should I chop it in for a new unit? The Godox looks like a no brainer as far as a system goes, but, am I just wasting my time? Should I have just got in closer and really got in peoples faces?
I've no doubt the main failure was my inexperience and inability to predict the settings on the hoof, I've never done this before and didn't prepare properly, but was the flash also a factor that would have helped on the day?
Just to give a flavour here's one of the few shots I was happy with....