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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 17 Nov 2008 (Monday) 13:03
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Synagogue Lighting - Group shots

 
egordon99
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Nov 17, 2008 13:03 |  #1

I'm starting to get booked to shoot some B'nai Mitzvot at my Synagogue, and while the sanctuary is quite beautiful, it's a mess lighting wise.

The shots below were taken with my 10-20, no flash, and I just knew I had to blow out the BIG windows up front.

I did a family shoot this past Sunday, and the best I could muster with my equipment was to use high speed sync to keep the windows from blowing out (via a fast shutter speed), and then bouncing my 580EXII off the (high and wooden!) ceiling to try and illuminate the subject. It worked ok, but I'm pretty sure I'm at the limits of my 580EXII, and I used high ISO/wide aperture to get more "bounce" reach, which of course was counter-productive to keeping the windows blowing out.....

Here's my thinking - A set of POWERFUL strobes bounced into umbrellas to illuminate the subjects, and then I could use lower ISO, narrower aperture to keep the windows exposed properly (and f/8 would be better for group shots than f/2!). Would this work? Or am I barking up the wrong tree? I'm usually pretty adept with lighting, but this has me baffled.

If there was only ONE window, I could use that light to illuminate my subjects, but there are freakin' two of them! And most of my shoots would be ~9 AM. I believe one of the windows is east facing...

Any thoughts appreciated!

IMAGE: http://evangordonphotography.com/beth_chaim/images/IMGP3192.jpg

IMAGE: http://evangordonphotography.com/beth_chaim/images/IMGP3180.jpg



  
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Bearmann
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Nov 17, 2008 16:06 |  #2

Lower your iso so that the windows get a proper exposure. Keep your shutter speed at the maximum sync speed. Add flash to supplement your lighting on the group. The flash output is lowered when you use high speed sync. I'm not saying that you wouldn't get a superior result with lights , umbrellas, etc., but I think it can probably be accomplished with what you already have.


Barry

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egordon99
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Nov 17, 2008 19:18 as a reply to  @ Bearmann's post |  #3

Thanks Bearmann! I was worried that if my ISO was too low (or aperture too narrow), my flash "bounce" wouldn't reach the subject. I'll have to get some willing test subjects and go back and try some more settings.




  
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Bearmann
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Nov 17, 2008 23:45 |  #4

Definitely test first. I'm just making an educated guess. I would start using one of your wide angle lenses for the group portrait. The closer you get to the group, the less distance the flash has to travel. I would try to see if you can bounce the flash off of that windowed wall on the right. It might do better than that dark ceiling and you won't get raccoon eyes from the light all coming from above. If you find that you have plenty of flash power, you might switch to a longer focal length lens and back up some so that the angled flash light won't be coming so much from the side, but will hit the group a little more directly. Set your aperture where you need it for the depth of field, say f8 for example, and your SS at the maximum sync speed. Lastly, adjust your iso for a proper exposure of the windows. If needed you could add a polarizer or neutral density filter to the lens to allow for a wider aperture to decrease your depth of field (if that's what you want). For an equivalent exposure, the flash output will be the same since the filter lost 2 stops, for example, but you opened up the aperture 2 stops to get the same exposure. It looks like most of the light is coming from the windows, not the incandescents, so I don't think I would put a warming gel on the flash. If the room is well lit from all that window light, you could also try using direct flash for fill and not bounce it. If you used direct flash for fill, you might be able to use the high speed sync (FP mode) since you won't need as much flash power. Another option would be to take two shots on a tripod at different exposures, and mask in the windows (the darker exposure) in Photoshop.


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Bearmann
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Nov 18, 2008 00:11 |  #5

It might be helpful to turn on those two white dome lights too if they would put more light on the group and help equalize the light intensity between indoors and outdoors. You may want to put a warming gel on the flash if the indoor light becomes the prominent light. If you shoot raw, you could develop the raw twice in order to try to match the white balence for the windows and the incandescents. Then combine the two in Photoshop.


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J ­ Rabin
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Nov 18, 2008 22:01 as a reply to  @ Bearmann's post |  #6

Not sure I understand the post, but I'll offer some comments.

1. The bimah is elevated, so make sure you have 10-12' lightstands for flash and bring a clean step ladder for group shots.
2. Yes, it always faces east. So, for sunny days, set camera for a Sunny 16 with your preferred aperture, test outdoor background exposure is near middle tone, then adjust the flash output (into high umbrellas) to expose indoor subjects. Then, scene contrast will be reduced enough to get a nice photo.
3. If you will shoot there a lot, measure windows, make up two mylar or acetate (like architects') tracing paper, pre-cut, window diffiusion covers and hang them over those windows before formals. Cut flare. Cut contrast. etc.
4. Me? I would never shoot the scene with windows AND either the dark wall or stone wall behind ark. In a photo, simply use composition to exclude offending high contrast bad things.
5. I would NOT use an ultra wide angle lens like a 10-20 on groups on a 1.6x crop camera. Ugly for subjects near frame margins. Bad for portraits. I would just use a normal zoom, shoot farther back on ladder. Narrower angle of view. Crop out windows. Again, be careful to avoid flare.
6. Look for other alternate locations in the facility more free from the high contrast of dark walls or background with streaming window light.

Just my opinion, Jack




  
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egordon99
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Nov 19, 2008 07:45 as a reply to  @ J Rabin's post |  #7

Jack - Exactly the ideas I was looking for! Of course the ARK faces east (duh!) I was trying to come up with compositions where the window light wasn't getting in the way. I was mostly using my Sigma 30mm, as I could use f/2 to get the most power from my flash for bouncing. The WIDE shot was just to show folks what the room looks like.

I will also look into diffusing the window light. Is it bad that I hope for rain/overcast days anytime I have to shoot in that room during the daytime? ;)

תודה!

(Todah - Thanks!)




  
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egordon99
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Nov 19, 2008 11:13 as a reply to  @ egordon99's post |  #8

Well I just got booked for a Bar Mitzvah on December 13th, better start practicing :)




  
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J ­ Rabin
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Nov 19, 2008 11:43 |  #9

egordon99 wrote in post #6716967 (external link)
... I was mostly using my Sigma 30mm, as I could use f/2 to get the most power from my flash for bouncing. The WIDE shot was just to show folks what the room looks like.

I wouldn't do the bounce routine. All that beautiful wood will put a variable red-orange color cast into the photos, which will be a pain to deal with in post process, even if shooting raw. I would shoot into silver/white bounce umbrellas. Or shoot through umbrellas with more flash power. If you have to do it your way, then maybe experiment with flash gels over the hotshoe flash head to color balance with what will bounce off all that wood.

Again, just my opinion. Jack.
Hey, how do you write in Hebrew Characters?




  
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egordon99
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Nov 19, 2008 12:04 as a reply to  @ J Rabin's post |  #10

Would the Genesis 200 w/s 2 light kit be powerful enough?

http://www.calumetphot​o.com/item/CF0502K1/ (external link)

Or do I have to go to the 400?

I was going to buy a 430EXII for my second body, but the Genesis kit seems to be about the same price as the speedlight.

As for the Hebrew characters - I was pretty sure "todah" was thank you but wanted to confirm, so I found http://translation.bab​ylon.com/Hebrew (external link)

Pretty cool, huh?

שלום




  
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Nov 19, 2008 12:05 |  #11

Using a pack system is risky on so many levels. You will be moving around and you will get a flair, did everything fire, will a guest be bothered by the constant flashing, shooting too fast for recycle? I would use the dedicated flash in auto mode with a little diffusion or bounce card to soften the effect and let the shutter speed allow for sufficient background. The shots including the front will go at the top end while the shots including the back will need to drag a bit. There is nothing wrong with 1/4 second, I find the effect to be very nice. I have not used a Canon flash but remember the Nikon units auto mode which worked well for me back in the film days.


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egordon99
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Nov 19, 2008 12:10 as a reply to  @ tcphoto1's post |  #12

hmmmmmm, these would ONLY be for the posed group shots taken before the service. No photographty during the service, and I'm fine for the reception/party with my 580EXII (for the most part.....) I do have a Joe Demb flip-it that I can use. I'll have to wrangle up some willing models before the 13th and see what I can do with everyone' suggestions. My 580EXII doe do AUTO (using its own sensor on the flash head) as well as E-TTL which is similar to Nikon's iTTL. It can also do manual power. I think I have a decent knowledge of basic lighting, but this situation just calls for me asking for help (sigh.....) The BIG bright windows coupled with the high wooden ceiling.

I want to try and get the best possible group shots here as these might be the only posed formal shots these folks get with the entire family all together (kids, parents, grand-parents, cousins, aunts and uncles, etc....) At least until the Bar Mitzvah kid gets married :)




  
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egordon99
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Nov 19, 2008 12:15 as a reply to  @ tcphoto1's post |  #13

OK, maybe my first attempts weren't too bad

http://www.evangordonp​hotography.com …2/main.php?g2_i​temId=2738 (external link)

Sigma 30mm, f/2, ISO200, 1/200s, flash head pointed straight up, in E-TTL mode, probably +1/3 FEC (not sure if I used the flip-it).

It was rainy out that day, so that helped alot.




  
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egordon99
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Nov 19, 2008 12:18 as a reply to  @ egordon99's post |  #14

Here's a more tricky one though -
http://www.evangordonp​hotography.com …2/main.php?g2_i​temId=3444 (external link)

Taken during a "re-shoot" this past Sunday, WITH bright light coming in through the windows, where I tried killing the ambient with HSS, but even 1/1600s wasn't enough, and of course HSS kills flash power. The client is happy, but I'd still think I can do better.




  
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Bearmann
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Nov 19, 2008 17:57 |  #15

Well, I think Jack hit the nail on the head when he mentioned not including the windows. If you don't have to include them, it would simplify everything. I've never been to a Bar/Bat Mitzvah where they had light stands set up before the service...then again, I never get there any earlier than I have too ;) If you had an assistant, you could use a monopod mounted speedlite with/without umbrella. I suspect the synagogue wouldn't be too happy about you on a 30 foot ladder adding film to the Windows due to liability concerns.
I think you'll want to shoot on the alter even if the light isn't as perfect-it shows a sense of place. Just keep your group between the windows without including the windows. Not owning umbrellas or softboxes, I shoot photo journalistic style since that is what I am familiar with. Your photos are pretty good I think. I'm not good with posing, but I would have the children stand if the group is small like this (dresses down and hands off faces if seated). Try to include everyone's feet-you can always crop them off later if you want. You won't need to be at the maximum sync speed if the windows are not included* (you won't be balancing bright ambient and flash). I'm a little confused about the ark-I see it in your group shots but not in the two photos above. If the side windows on the bimah are supplying sufficient diffused light (not direct sun), you may be able to use direct fill flash on your camera with good result. If flash is the main light however, you could use a homemade or other diffuser straight above the camera (so shadows fall behind the group, not to the side) like Chuck Gardner does. http://super.nova.org/​DPR/Design/ (external link) With an assistant and capability for off camera flash, a monopod held flash on the left for fill with the wall of windows on the right for main would be a consideration versus the flash as main with an umbrella and the light from the windows and/or a camera mounted flash as fill. Depending on your position in the sanctuary, I think you'll be surprised how nice the light can be by bouncing your flash off that wall of windows, so don't discount that possibility.
*Do keep your flash at or below the maximum sync speed if your are trying to maximise the power from it, though. If you're not trying to include those windows in the shot, you'll be free to crank up your iso if needed.


Barry

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Synagogue Lighting - Group shots
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