Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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I am an beginner photographer and I was "hired" to cover a company final year party. The idea is take group shots or portraits and print "on the fly" the pictures, then the guests can see and take the shots during the event.

My equipment

  • Nikon D3200
  • Lens 24-70mm f/2.8 - FX AF-S G ED NIKKO
  • Lens: 18-55mm
  • Lens: 55-200mm
  • Flash: SB-900

The environment The Room

As we can see on the picture the room is pretty long and have a high ceiling. I've seen that portrait photograph or groups pictures looks much better when the flash is position to the ceiling, but in this case I do not have this option. However the skeletons and dinosaurs can help me to create some cool compositions.

Because I will not post process the images, the quality have to be enough to print in a normal size 10x15.

Question What will be the best setup and position for the flash?

share|improve this question
    
The best setup would be to get another flash, put at least one of them off of the camera on a light stand, and use wireless capabilities to fire off one or both of the flashes. You also need to better match the ambient lighting to the flash. In the example it looks like you are just using auto mode and exposing for the people and not the room properly. –  dpollitt Sep 23 '13 at 12:30
    
Thanks @dpollitt, this shot was made just to have an idea about the environment. I will not going to be "fixed" somewhere, but I will be walking around the crowd and taking natural pictures of the groups. But I will consider the idea to make a fixed spot so I can have an ambient with a bit more of control of my lights. –  Eduardo Moratto Sep 24 '13 at 5:32

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

The ceiling is white, but is probably too far away to bounce your flash unless you have a very bright flash. Your best bet is probably two flashes and soft boxes or large reflectors. If possible, setup both on stands, one left, one right and ideally a third behind a shot, but one left and one right or even one on camera with a largish softbox and one off camera to the left or right to give key lighting would work.

If you are stuck with just the one flash, moving it off camera with a softbox would be good, or if you need to, on camera with a softbox can work as a last resort if you really need the mobility and speed, but quality will suffer a bit.

I'd also recommend reading up more broadly on three point lighting. If you can't do the back, you still really want a key and a fill to give nice balanced shadows to give depth and avoid dark spots in the image. Be sure to adjust flash output power or distance between them and the subject as well so that your fill allows for gentle shadows to give the image depth.

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Just to keep on track what's happening on the event and how was the result:

The Gear

  • Nikon D3200
  • Lens 24-70mm f/2.8 - FX AF-S G ED NIKKO
  • Flash: SB-900

The Settings

  • ISO 400
  • f/2.8
  • 1/125
  • EV +0.7
  • Flash +2.0
  • Flash in 75º pointing to the ceiling

The Location

The location was, as expected bad to take pictures, with the giant dinosaur in the middle, making hard to "put" people on good spot to shot. Also, on the back, the walls and some glass made a funny and bad reflection.

Outputs

Because we were printing the pictures as I was shooting the pictures needed to be a bit overexposed to looks nice printed.

In general the result was good, but I had few challenges and things to improve for the next time:

  • Almost all the shots were of a group of people, so the setting for DOF f/2.8 was too big, I should be using something more than f/3.5, however, due the lack of light I keeped on f/2.8.
  • I did not take a monopod, what I think would help to make the pictures look sharper.
  • I have to learn more about lighting and flashes to have more power and control on it.

Now is prepare myself, study, practise and be ready for the next challenge. :-)

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