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Thread: Event Lighting (Ceilingless/Outdoors/Night time)

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    Event Lighting (Ceilingless/Outdoors/Night time)

    I have a disgusting amount of clients this year who have opted to have outdoor uncovered wedding receptions that begin right around the time the sun disappears - and I need to find a way to light them effectively.

    I essentially want to have this softness (but outdoors):





    There are three main issues:

    i) Off camera/remotely triggered umbrellas aren't going to work. Some of these receptions are 300 people and I simply don't have enough speedlights to cover that amount of space. ON TOP OF THAT, most of these receptions happen just off the water, so there's a pretty brutal wind 13' up. Stuff either falls over or gets turned inside out.
    ii) I move around A LOT. And quickly. Assistant is also a no go, as the ones I have used seldom nail the distance/direction. It also makes it a little more difficult to move around discreetly.
    iii) Of ALL the flash diffusers I've seen, they never have examples under these kind of circumstances. If it's outdoors there's available light. It's ridiculous.

    So I'm looking for an on camera flash diffuser (or on a bracket or whatever) that will give me the pitch (as sometimes there may be people in front of the subject I'm trying to illuminate) and quality that I need - and maybe a rough setting to go along with it (I tend to operate from around 9-10' away (assuming 8' round tables are being used).

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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    Re: Event Lighting (Ceilingless/Outdoors/Night time)

    Quote Originally Posted by colorspace View Post
    Assistant is also a no go, as the ones I have used seldom nail the distance/direction. It also makes it a little more difficult to move around discreetly.
    Hire one, train well and pay them enough that they care. That's always the best solution because you're not limited to a single light and something that has to fit on the camera.

    Doesn't allow you to move as quickly, true. Less discreet, true.

    Quick, good, easy. Pick 2.

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    Re: Event Lighting (Ceilingless/Outdoors/Night time)

    The samples you show are directional ambient in what appears to be decent light (large light colored tent surface, etc.). The backgrounds are fairly openly lit, probably due to a bit higher ISO and/or combined with dragging the shutter and wider aperture.

    When the sun goes bye-bye outdoors, so does the large light source, compounded by the fact that there usually isn't anything to bounce flash off to broaden/soften an artificial light source.

    On-camera speed-light will produce flat head-on lighting and there isn't a speed-light diffuser big enough to mitigate the small harsher light source.

    The solution is a combination of an off-camera key light to simulate directional ambient, and an on-camera speed-light for fill using a diffuser when close to the subject, and none when further away. For outdoor work, diffusers like the Fong globe or Omni bounce are a waste of light since there isn't any surface for the light to bounce off of. A more forward directional diffuser is more effective.

    The off-camera light should be a mobile boom arm with a radio controlled flash. Line of site infrared triggered speed-lights don't work at distance or when something blocks the signal.

    For a broad light source I use a number of modifiers on a mobile battery driven strobe head using an assistant ... but for this sort of application I tend to favor the Elinchrom Varistar umbrella softbox. That the Elinchrom Quadra strobe's light output is controlled from the camera makes it easier to make distance judgements on the fly.

    Be aware that in dead dark ambient, it is very difficult to get the sort of results you posted ... unless you really use a high ISO and drag the shutter to open up backgrounds ... then use directional strobe, and aperture to balance the foreground exposure.

    Hope this helps a bit.

    -Marc

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    Re: Event Lighting (Ceilingless/Outdoors/Night time)

    What Marc wrote is how you do it correctly. If doing it correctly is less important than just doing it, a small light (speedlight, Lumedyne, Quadra, Norman) in a small softbox held at arms length can be very effective. It won't duplicate what you are getting indoors, but it does work.

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    Re: Event Lighting (Ceilingless/Outdoors/Night time)

    That is right Bill. I actually use that technique at dark reception venues to somewhat control the direction of the key light.

    In my case I have a speed-light with a small 12" soft-box (Interfit) which is mounted to a Phottix Strato-II radio receiver ... all on a Lowel hand grip. I also use a second diffused speed-light in the hot-shoe mounted to a Phottix transmitter that allows pass-through TTL for fill. No cords is very helpful in swiftly aiming the light, while also letting you place the light on a table for back lit opportunities. An important accessory for all this is a sturdy camera hand-strap so you can shoot one-handed.

    -Marc

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    Re: Event Lighting (Ceilingless/Outdoors/Night time)

    In the film days I used the good old Norman 200B with a modified stroboframe and an XXS Chimera softbox so that I could could easily tilt it up or down or detach and hold to the side or high at above a strong downward angle. I had the distance and F stop memorized for 50WS, 100WS and 200WS. I'd focus the Hasselblad, look at the distance on the lens, pick the stop and power setting, then shoot. All in a matter of seconds. I took thousands upon thousands of images with only a rare bad frame when someone would step in front of the camera or some other unpredictable event.

    Then Metz came along with TTL on the Hassy and I modified the Chimera/stroboframe bracket to accept the new 'automatic' rig. Life got considerably easier with that setup.

    These days it's the Elinchrom Quadra on a RRS backet with a quick release. A small softbox can be used if the standard diffuser isn't enough for the situation. A pocket wizard mounted in the hotshoe triggers a second Quadra sporting a Portalite that's mounted on the end of a monopod.

    I can shoot at 1/40 on the 5DII and 1/45 on the A850 in most low level ambient. If I need to I'll go a little further down.

    It's all easy these days. Swapping CD cards is much less hassle than reloading an A12 Hasselblad back. Dynamic range is several stops beyond what I successfully shot with for a couple of decades.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kirk Candlish View Post
    Quick, good, easy. Pick 2.

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    Re: Event Lighting (Ceilingless/Outdoors/Night time)

    Quote Originally Posted by Kirk Candlish View Post
    In the film days I used the good old Norman 200B with a modified stroboframe and an XXS Chimera softbox so that I could could easily tilt it up or down or detach and hold to the side or high at above a strong downward angle. I had the distance and F stop memorized for 50WS, 100WS and 200WS. I'd focus the Hasselblad, look at the distance on the lens, pick the stop and power setting, then shoot. All in a matter of seconds. I took thousands upon thousands of images with only a rare bad frame when someone would step in front of the camera or some other unpredictable event.

    Then Metz came along with TTL on the Hassy and I modified the Chimera/stroboframe bracket to accept the new 'automatic' rig. Life got considerably easier with that setup.

    These days it's the Elinchrom Quadra on a RRS backet with a quick release. A small softbox can be used if the standard diffuser isn't enough for the situation. A pocket wizard mounted in the hotshoe triggers a second Quadra sporting a Portalite that's mounted on the end of a monopod.

    I can shoot at 1/40 on the 5DII and 1/45 on the A850 in most low level ambient. If I need to I'll go a little further down.

    It's all easy these days. Swapping CD cards is much less hassle than reloading an A12 Hasselblad back. Dynamic range is several stops beyond what I successfully shot with for a couple of decades.
    Hey Kirk, if you have a moment, could you snap a pic of the Quadra/RRS set-up and let me use the image for a blog article I'm writing on lighting? ... even if you don't want the pic published, I'd love to see how you have it all set up ...

    -Marc

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    Re: Event Lighting (Ceilingless/Outdoors/Night time)

    I think I ended up going in the general direction of one of the suggestions - ordered a Manfotto bracket with a telescopic arm and a Lumiquest big bounce. I figure if I can at least get the height and the angle I'll be in order.

    RE: the original images - it had more to do with the key than the ambient.






    The last one was completely uncovered, but there was a little hut off to the side that was serving as a giant reflector. The thing is.. I've gotten similar results before off my white card - had it extended about 2cm and the flash angled forward a tad. Relative distance seemed to be the biggest contributor but with not being able to chuck it up, people blocked the flash all too often (resulting in a shadow).

    Hopefully this solution will give me the pitch and the angle I'm after :|

    Will post results on Sunday.

    [EDIT]

    This contraption:



    ^..not me

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