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Old Oct 12, 2010, 3:58 AM   #1
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Default low light shooting

Hi all,

In a few weeks I'm doing the social photography at a fundraising gala with a charity my mother is closely involved with, i.e. photos of the guests.
I'm a bit nervous about shooting in such low light however.
I have a canon eos 400d with an 18-55mm lense and standard flash.
Can anyone give me some general advice about camera settings for low light situations, and also whether it would be worth it to hire a flash and/or a different lense for the night?

Any advice would be appreciated!!
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Old Oct 12, 2010, 4:04 AM   #2
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50mm 1.8 / 1.4 would be a good bet. Apparently they work good in lowlight as they are fast.
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Old Oct 12, 2010, 6:50 AM   #3
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What do you call such low light, what sort of venue is it?

I would go external flash as an essential piece of kit then depending on the sort of photos you want choose a lens that might help more in the lower light than the kit option. If you are looking for tight groups then the 50mm can work fine, this is the sort of use we put it to at weddings/events on a crop body in low light (I have the f1.8 for now as stopped down to f2.2 it is sharp enough).

If you want to have more reach and the option for groups in one lens then a 24-70mm f2.8 is good on a crop as long as you can move away from the group a bit. I personally however would say go with the flash and stick with the kit lens unless these photos are to be sold. Then again, if they are to be sold I would ensure that you have the skills to nail the lighting and composition etc as well as the glass for the quality, if they are for a record of the event then not so essential.

Shoot RAW and bounce the flash, be that off of the ceiling, walls to the side or behind you to get the effect you want. You need to be in manual exposure with the exposure set so that it is a couple of stops under the ambient light then let the flash do all the work (not direct flash don't forget). This is where the fast glass comes in so that the flash doesn't have to work too hard to beat the light, if you can't get to only a couple of stops under ambient then it will be using full power all the time and really eat batteries. I would have one set in the camera and 3 spare, assuming you have some good rechargeable ones.
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Old Oct 12, 2010, 10:04 AM   #4
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Good flash easy to use look at the nissin di622 it does both tilt and swivel. i would think that with that you would be able to use the your 18-55 lens.
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Old Oct 12, 2010, 12:52 PM   #5
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Fundraising gala? You are going to want good, bright photos of guests. Think red carpet lighting at Hollywood premiere type shots. For this, you need light - lots of light.
If the venue has high ceilings, bounce flash is going to be iffy. If normal (8-10ft) ceiling height, you should be able to get a way with a single shoe mount flash, bounced off the ceiling, with maybe a reflector card for catch light.
For the more difficult situation of high ceilings or colored ceilings, your best bet would probably be to supplement a shoe mounted flash with a slave. Try to get set up with a fixed space - take some test shots to get your lighting right, and have an assistant to place the subjects for the more formal pictures. Once you've got all those, you can wander around taking candids.

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Old Oct 12, 2010, 1:10 PM   #6
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Don't just think ceiling for bounce flash, actually, I more and more think less ceiling and more walls with a bit of ceiling to raise the light but make if more directional than just from above. I bounce off the side walls, the rear walls and anyone who is in my way as well. Sometimes I forget when shooting a hip shot as my flash is usually backwards and up a bit and end up blinding myself with the flash, yep, I'm a genius.

The best resource I've found for learning about bounce flash is http://www.lightcraft-photography.co...76235592_RdxiQ

This guy is a great photog on another forum that I hang out on as they have more pro wedding shooters there and he knows his stuff. By using this method I can shoot and get no nasty shadows on any of my shots (well sometimes I get an angle wrong and might get one or two in a session that show a small shadow on the wall behind). As can be seen in his example, you can use flash in a huge room but need to have faster glass. I do use f4 with one of my lenses but it's not as good as using faster glass. Having f2.8 is much better and a flash like the 580EX or EXII is key to pump the power.
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Old Oct 12, 2010, 1:55 PM   #7
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Back to the last part of the original question - I reall don't think it would be a good idea to rent equipment for one night - if you are not familiar with it, and don't have time to practice with it, you are likely to do worse than with what you have.

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Old Oct 12, 2010, 3:11 PM   #8
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external flash, the canon 430 exii, metz 48 or the nissin di622 are all good options.
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Old Oct 12, 2010, 3:27 PM   #9
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Hi all,

Thanks for you info. The venue is actually a very old church so will have very high ceilings and the lighting will be coming from large chandeliers, a few other ceiling lights and candles. It won't be intense mood lighting though.
I have taken photos at events before that have been published on events websites, however these will be going out to all of the local social pages publications so there is a bit more pressure. So I definitely want really bright glossy photos of the guests. There will not be a specific area for taking photos of guests, rather I will be picking groups out of the crowd to take photos of. the photo example that was posted is exactly what I'm wanting to achieve.

The reason I'd be keen to hire, is that my camera as it is stumbles when it comes to using the flash in low light. I need to be able to get quick shots that obviously are great quality.
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Old Oct 12, 2010, 3:30 PM   #10
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get a sto fen or gray fong diffuser, shoot at 1600iso and the external flash will not fully discharge after every shot.
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