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Ham radio club Christmas dinner.
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Nov 18, 2019 12:24:37   #
GLKTN Loc: TN
 
My first event. I want to document the dinner. This is not important like a wedding reception just to post on our web sight. It will be in our civic center meeting room. Probably pretty good light. Just people milling around and eating, mostly eating.

I will be using: Nikon d750 and kit lens, 24-120 f4 I am most comfortable with it.
I own a 1.9 50mm and a 2.8 90mm macro. One wedding video on YouTube suggested setting the camera at ISO 400, F4.5 @ 1/200 to start. for on camera speed light. so seems like my kit lens will work.

Phottix Mitros+ Speedlite set on TTL with a homemade LiteScoop type diffuser.
Godox Propac 960 battery pack.

My main question is where to practice? I have no one to practice on so thought about going to the local mall and practice on the displays and maybe in some stores on their displays. I want to get more comfortable adjusting exposure settings and flash compensation. I have about 3 weeks to practice. It seems like the mall lighting would be similar to the civic center meeting room.

If the civic center is bright enough, would it be better to do a custom white balance and shoot without on camera speedlight? The Nikon d750 has excellent low light capability. However catch lights look great. I am using this as mostly practice anyway so if none of the photos turn out I don't have to share them. I haven't used an on camera speedlight much at all and thought this would be a perfect opportunity. If someone ever asked me to do this on purpose, I would not accept the challenge. People may be disappointed but no harm done. I wasn't asked to do it I just shoot at our events now and then for my pleasure.
Any suggestions welcome.

Thanks.

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Nov 18, 2019 18:09:40   #
E.L.. Shapiro Loc: Ottawa, Ontario Canada
 
It sounds like a fun event!

The first thing to consider is that there is not one kinda universal setting; f/stop, shutter speed or focal length, that will cover any particular lighting situation, especially in flash usage. Even the way you employ your speedlight; directly, modified with your home-made rig, or bounced for ceiling or wall surfaces is dependent on the conditions in the room, the height of the ceiling, the size of the room, and the proximity of the walls to the subjects.

So...I looked up the manual for your speedlight and found that it is TTL capable and, assuming you have the model that is comparable with you Nikon, camera, it should automatically address the exposure issues for flash usage. That means it should provide correct exposure, taking into consideration the required f/stop (aperture) for sufficient depth of field as per your determination and setting, and the distance between the camera-mounted flash unit and the subjects. This should also work with a modified flash or various bounce situations.

Practice: If you can visit the venue in advance and test things out with just one person as a test subject, you can determine if your basic mode settings are correct. Function rooms and halls in various venues can be diverse as to room dimensions and ceiling heights as well as existing light availability. Testing in a shopping center or other space may not coincide with what you will find at the actual location.

While you are at home, you should read into the manual and make sure you understand the basic setting-up of the various flash modes in the speedlight. You can test to see if it is basically operating properly. In case you don't have the manual, I will attach a link where you can download it.

If you can access the location ahead of time, even while the catering staff is setting up, you should have enough time to make a series of tests at various distances, different focal length (zoom) settings and trying direct flash, modified flash and bounce flash and see which is most suitable as per your own taste.

You may need to increase the ISO if your test results are consistently underexposed. Make certain the shutter speed is within range for flash synchronization.

On events like you are describing, here are some suggestions for a good coverage: All over shots of the room, guest mingling, a few posed groups, folks can pose at the tables (not while eating), some detail shots of things like buffet tables, Christmas trees and decorations, anything related to amateur radio gear or paraphernalia, any speeches, presentations, gift exchanges, and any dance floor activities. Think about telling a story or presenting a slideshow at a future meeting etc.

The speedlight you have seems to be a good quality model with enough power to handle some bounce light techniques.

Do a few preliminary tests and let me know how far you got and I will try to address any further questions.

QRT

Link to manual.

https://www.manualslib.com/manual/1103446/Phottix-Mitros-Ttl.html?page=2#manual

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Nov 18, 2019 18:33:48   #
GLKTN Loc: TN
 
E.L.. Shapiro wrote:
It sounds like a fun event!

The first thing to consider is that there is not one kinda universal setting; f/stop, shutter speed or focal length, that will cover any particular lighting situation, especially in flash usage. Even the way you employ your speedlight; directly, modified with your home-made rig, or bounced for ceiling or wall surfaces is dependent on the conditions in the room, the height of the ceiling, the size of the room, and the proximity of the walls to the subjects.

So...I looked up the manual for your speedlight and found that it is TTL capable and, assuming you have the model that is comparable with you Nikon, camera, it should automatically address the exposure issues for flash usage. That means it should provide correct exposure, taking into consideration the required f/stop (aperture) for sufficient depth of field as per your determination and setting, and the distance between the camera-mounted flash unit and the subjects. This should also work with a modified flash or various bounce situations.

Practice: If you can visit the venue in advance and test things out with just one person as a test subject, you can determine if your basic mode settings are correct. Function rooms and halls in various venues can be diverse as to room dimensions and ceiling heights as well as existing light availability. Testing in a shopping center or other space may not coincide with what you will find at the actual location.

While you are at home, you should read into the manual and make sure you understand the basic setting-up of the various flash modes in the speedlight. You can test to see if it is basically operating properly. In case you don't have the manual, I will attach a link where you can download it.

If you can access the location ahead of time, even while the catering staff is setting up, you should have enough time to make a series of tests at various distances, different focal length (zoom) settings and trying direct flash, modified flash and bounce flash and see which is most suitable as per your own taste.

You may need to increase the ISO if your test results are consistently underexposed. Make certain the shutter speed is within range for flash synchronization.

On events like you are describing, here are some suggestions for a good coverage: All over shots of the room, guest mingling, a few posed groups, folks can pose at the tables (not while eating), some detail shots of things like buffet tables, Christmas trees and decorations, anything related to amateur radio gear or paraphernalia, any speeches, presentations, gift exchanges, and any dance floor activities. Think about telling a story or presenting a slideshow at a future meeting etc.

The speedlight you have seems to be a good quality model with enough power to handle some bounce light techniques.

Do a few preliminary tests and let me know how far you got and I will try to address any further questions.

QRT

Link to manual.

https://www.manualslib.com/manual/1103446/Phottix-Mitros-Ttl.html?page=2#manual
It sounds like a fun event! br br The first thing... (show quote)

Hi hi on QRT. My posted exposure settings is a starting point. I went to the local mall today and practiced on the mannequins. I learned a lot. I adjusted all the exposure settings separately to see how they affected the ambient light and focus on groups of mannequins. I also changed the flash exposure compensation to see the effect. A very informative day. Unfortunately mannequins don't have faces any more.
I don't have a photo buddy and my wife is not a willing subject. The dinner is a very informal potluck. Should be fun. Thanks for your advice.

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Nov 19, 2019 00:03:23   #
GLKTN Loc: TN
 
I do have a question. Do you set the white balance to flash in the WB menu?

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Nov 19, 2019 12:27:19   #
pwrxprt Loc: Beaumont, California
 
I shoot many events in similar conditions as you described at our Clubhouse where I live. Informal fun stuff. I use pretty much the same set up that you mentioned, i.e. D750 w/24-120 lens and SB910 flash. I also use flash dome similar to "Gary Fong" type. Spreads the light more evenly for me. I have success using ISO at 800, F5.6 and shutter speed at 125. That stop most of the action and I never see any noise in my photos at ISO 800. I found in a large room the light goes everywhere fast and my camera needs to be faster, thus the ISO 800. Sometimes I have to slow the camera down more and go down to a shutter speed of 100, but lots of success at 125. When you are shooting folks at a table you're going to be standing back 8 or 10ish feet back in order to get the entire table. I've found to have had adequate light using these settings and works the best for my environment. Here is just one example of an event I shoot if you're interested in viewing. These were taken during the morning hours to lots of natural light from the windows...many of my photos are at night only using the ambient light plus my flash...the setting still work. You can check this link out and view others from this site if you have the time. Here is the link... https://lanejsphotos.shutterfly.com/pictures/6749

Good luck and have fun shooting. I have a great time shooting events as you described. You many have to copy and paste the link I just put in this box if it doesn't show up at a hyperlink.

By the way, I leave my white balance to auto...I've tried other white balance settings with little success, so I just correct the auto white balance in Photoshop.

I'd love to see your results when you're done with the shoot.

Lane

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Nov 19, 2019 13:27:05   #
E.L.. Shapiro Loc: Ottawa, Ontario Canada
 
GLKTN wrote:
I do have a question. Do you set the white balance to flash in the WB menu?


Good question!

If the MAIN source is going to be electronic flash, the white balance should be set for electronic flash. This will result in an accurate or easily correctable color, especially in the skin tones of people in the images.

Should you decide to go with available light, the white balance should be set for whatever the existing light source is. I don't know what kind of lighting is at the venue. Typically, it could be incandescent (tungsten), fluorescent, sodium or mercury vapor, or currently even LED. Most of these light sources are not color temperature compatible with electronic flash so it would be difficult, without some kind of filtration to blend the existing and speedlight sources and arrive at good color. If you decide to use the flash as a fill-in source you would have to provide filtration to the speedlight to match the existing light.

In my prior post, I neglected to address your remark about "catch-lights". Assuming that the existing light would be striking the subject from overhead, this kind of lighting usually under-illuminates the eyes and the eye sockets and thereby usually negates catch-lights.

Another approach you might want to consider is using your speedlight as your main light source and select a shutter speed that would admit some of the existing available light so there would be more detail in the background that oftentimes goes very dark as per the fall of off flash. Perhaps 1/30 or 1/60 sec can still accommodate the hand holding of the camera without the danger of blur. If some of the color in the background is too warm or cold, this would not significantly affect the color of the people in the images as the majority of the illumination would be the flash.

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Nov 19, 2019 13:51:02   #
GLKTN Loc: TN
 
The on camera speedlight will be the main light. I will be photographing people and food table setup. No interested in the venue only as background. I will use spot metering so the ttl flash will balance exposure for the subject. I will adjust camera exposure for ambient light and depth of field.

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Nov 19, 2019 14:18:40   #
E.L.. Shapiro Loc: Ottawa, Ontario Canada
 
GLKTN wrote:
The on camera speedlight will be the main light. I will be photographing people and food table setup. No interested in the venue only as background. I will use spot metering so the ttl flash will balance exposure for the subject. I will adjust camera exposure for ambient light and depth of field.


Sounds like a good and practical plan.

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Nov 20, 2019 14:27:04   #
bkyser Loc: Fly over country in Indiana
 
Hi GLKTN! First, We're all friends in this section, so if you want to drop your actual name (Mine is Bob, Mr. Shapiro is Ed) Whatever your name is, it HAS to roll off the fingers easier than GLKTN.

Anyway, the settings are but one issue. Since this sounds like it is a learning experience, experiment with settings, but also, you mention "a bunch of people milling about."

If you really want to be next-level, act like you are at an actual wedding reception. With a HUGE smile on your face, walk up to each group, and/or table, and get everyone to "scootch together," and have them stand with some people behind the seated people, and don't ask them to smile, but "get them" to smile. That is the mark of a really good wedding reception shooter. I never say anything that can't be said in polite company, but will say things like "who here has the best legs?" " who is the best kisser" Ask the grouchiest looking person in the group to say the name of his favorite vegetable in his/her sexiest batman voice" etc. (whatever I think this group might react to, the more you do this, the more "odd, or funny things you will come up with) Instead of getting people from a distance, the backs of a bunch of heads, people with odd looks on their faces, or worse, putting food in their mouths.

"working the tables" is without a doubt the highlight of my evening at a wedding or event. When in doubt, think of all those celebrity selfies you see, with everyone laughing and having fun. THAT's what people want in their albums or as keepsakes of an event. Not a bunch of far away shots of people eating, and looking around with blank stares.

Enjoy yourself, and take pride in the fact that you can actually get groups of people at a table who don't know each other, to start enjoying each other's company. If someone says "he's not with our group", my response is "he is now......hop in there cowboy" And later in the evening, you will see that group, with the extra person, all having a great time together. YOU can be the ice breaker that can help an event be memorable. Believe it or not, I end up getting more referrals from people who have attended a wedding I've done, than from about anywhere else.

I think Ed has gotten you a really great start on the exposure issues, hopefully, what I've said here will help you with the people skills. (which is at least as important as the technical stuff, sometimes more important)

Good luck, and I hope you share some of your images.

Reply
Nov 20, 2019 15:52:19   #
E.L.. Shapiro Loc: Ottawa, Ontario Canada
 
I am pleased that Bob has chimed in with some operational aspects of covering the event. My post was more technically oriented.

Although I have not been active lately, I am also a licenced amateur radio operator. Back in the day, I attended many "hamfests" club activities, and flea-markets. These are usually pretty lively events as Hams are intrinsically good communicators and love to talk shop and get together in person, as well as on the air.

One day, I'll have to catch up on the current technology and become active again in my favorite hobby and again advance beyond the 2-meter rig in my car.

If my lovely and tolerant wife will again tolerate my reinstatement of my "radio room" or at least a another desk with all my "junk" on it and that big, ugly, and rusty antenna on the roof, I might get back into it sooner than later.

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Nov 20, 2019 16:31:24   #
GLKTN Loc: TN
 
Sounds like a plan. I get on the air in fits and starts, more in the winter when conditions are better and less outside activity. There is never a bad time to jump in. Go for it. Yes, XYLs can be tempermental.

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Nov 20, 2019 17:47:20   #
E.L.. Shapiro Loc: Ottawa, Ontario Canada
 
GLKTN wrote:
Sounds like a plan. I get on the air in fits and starts, more in the winter when conditions are better and less outside activity. There is never a bad time to jump in. Go for it. Yes, XYLs can be tempermental.


Copy that...will do! Let us know how the shoot works out.

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Nov 20, 2019 21:31:44   #
GLKTN Loc: TN
 
E.L.. Shapiro wrote:
Copy that...will do! Let us know how the shoot works out.


Roger that. 73s.

Reply
Nov 21, 2019 09:43:13   #
jaysnave Loc: Central Ohio
 
Hi GLTN, Looks like you came to the right section for advise as it seems that you have some great advise here. I do a lot of events and am still editing pics from a 4 day event this past week. My settings are similar to what Lane mentioned although I will bump the ISO up to 1200 or 1600 when it gets dark (no natural light) AND look out for the venue turning the lights down if there are presentations. Usually, I will fire my AD600 off camera to fill the room with light at low power and use my on camera flash for fill as needed. If you are using on camera only and moving around a lot, then TTL would be your best bet.

The only "operational" piece I would add is to make sure you get pics of meaningful things like signage detailing the event, any awards, a Ham radio etc... as photographers we are telling a story or maybe better phrased capturing a story in photographs.

Have fun! Like Bob eluded to, if you are having fun they will have fun which makes for great photographs.

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Nov 21, 2019 11:23:08   #
GLKTN Loc: TN
 
jaysnave wrote:
Hi GLTN, Looks like you came to the right section for advise as it seems that you have some great advise here. I do a lot of events and am still editing pics from a 4 day event this past week. My settings are similar to what Lane mentioned although I will bump the ISO up to 1200 or 1600 when it gets dark (no natural light) AND look out for the venue turning the lights down if there are presentations. Usually, I will fire my AD600 off camera to fill the room with light at low power and use my on camera flash for fill as needed. If you are using on camera only and moving around a lot, then TTL would be your best bet.

The only "operational" piece I would add is to make sure you get pics of meaningful things like signage detailing the event, any awards, a Ham radio etc... as photographers we are telling a story or maybe better phrased capturing a story in photographs.

Have fun! Like Bob eluded to, if you are having fun they will have fun which makes for great photographs.
Hi GLTN, Looks like you came to the right sectio... (show quote)

Ok. Since I am getting such great advice, Which lens would be best for me to use. I mainly use the 24-120 f4 kit lens. I do have a Tamron SP 90mm macro lens at f2.8. I can lock the lens at .5m to ∞ and use my feet to zoom. Would the added f stop be that critical? I also have a Nikon f1.9 nifty fifty.

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