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02-24-2011, 01:12 PM   #1
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Shooting A Casino Night Tomorrow

Doing this as a favor for someone, a charity event, and I'm not really sweating it like a wedding, but I still want to do a decent job.

I'm going to be shooting mostly Tak manual primes, on a tripod with Sunpak 555 flash. Lenses are 24, 28, 35, 50, 55, 85, 135, and 200. Can't imagine needing anything longer than
200, and it might not even get pulled out of the bag.

With the flash's high power and low ceilings, I'll be able to bounce and adjust power settings, so I decided on starting with ISO 400 as a good baseline. I decided to shoot tripod from several
positions because I don't see how I can get into people's faces when they're gambling. This is going to require stealth shooting.

To me, the most interesting shots won't even have people's faces, but of course this isn't what the organizer wants, so it's going to be tricky. The space isn't that huge, and I plan on high tripod elevation and working on a step ladder to elevate my angles. Got a feeling that otherwise, it's gonna be impossible, with people getting in the way.

Any other ideas? I was considering using an additional flash as a slave, and I still might do it. It's just that my other 3 strives are smaller pocket units, and don't know how much they'll contribute. The only one I'm really considering using us my Bauer, which can run off 110.

02-24-2011, 01:25 PM   #2
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wow Ira - the project sounds like a lot of fun. If I were you I would drop the 28, 50 and 200. Are you carrying two bodies? Then you could have one designated for the wide end and the other for the longer end.
02-24-2011, 01:33 PM   #3
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Only one body (God made me poor and currently unemployed), and I agree with you 100% about being able to drop those lenses.

It's just that the place is only a few blocks from my house, so I might as well bring them. But as you say, I'm sure I won't use them.

I'll bring the 18-55 for s*it's and giggles.
02-24-2011, 01:36 PM   #4
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Sorry about my typos above, but this iTouch doesn't let you scroll all the way into a post to edit.

02-25-2011, 08:05 AM   #5
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Well, I'm all packed and did some flash testing. Decided on the 50 1.4 instead of the 55, and I'm going to give the 105 one more chance at redeeming itself.

The 50 is without a doubt my best lens, and I'm going to see how that length works depending on where I'll be able to set up. The "rig"...with the huge Stroboframe bracket holding the potato masher like 2 feet above the cam, plus the small spotlight on the bracket and all mounted to the tripod...looks like a monster. Also decided to use a small battery-powered pocket strobe via slave taped to a stand. Can't decide whether to bounce or use as direct.

I hope my wife's P&S still works so I can take a shot of this all tonight. In the spirit of the event, I was going to wear my "I got Duval-Faced on S*it Street" T-shirt, but you never know when there's a prospective, future client in the crowd.

So a conservative, button-down shirt it is.
02-25-2011, 07:27 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ira Quote
So a conservative, button-down shirt it is.
Hmmmm....after reading some of your posts on here, define "conservative".
02-26-2011, 06:01 AM   #7
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HOpe you had fun with your rig. Dont forget to post your pictures of the set up and some shots from the casino.
02-26-2011, 11:21 AM   #8
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Mission accomplished, and nothing transpired the way I thought it would. Will post images later tonight after I review everything. Downloading to the computer as I now type.

First, where I was squeezed in for my tripod set-up didn't work at all. Not only doesn't a fixed position allow you to access the vast majority of shooting opportunities, but it was very uncomfortable. I felt like a sardine in a can.

So after about 30 minutes, I said screw this and ditched the tripod and went mobile.

FL wise, it was no contest--35mm all the way. Not only did this allow me to fit everything in when I had to go wider, but I could get real close for tight shots--and with all of the playing tables on top of each other, you had to get close. I would have preferred to go 28, maybe even 24, but I only have "lowly" Vivitars in those lengths. My 24 is capable of great things, but I decided to stick with the Taks. The 35 also seemed to allow me great DOF (I hope, I hope, I hope), which helped me when shooting blind by raising the camera high above my head and down onto the tables. Surprisingly, the venue and layout didn't really call for anything wider than 28.

Focusing was a little tough at times, due to a combination of low light and the 35's extremely tight/precise focusing--making it tough to make the magical green focus hexagon pop its little head up. (With all the noise, you couldn't hear the worthless confirmation beep at ALL.) I did plenty of shots where I was close but not 100% on it, hoping the DOF would save my ass.

The Sunpak 555 was a marvel of not-so-modern engineering, and I relied on its auto Thyristor metering with the camera in M at 1/160, 5.6 or 8, at ISO400. I don't think a single shot was off-exposure...it was flawless...due to the remote sensor which sits in the hot shoe and takes the reading from there, while the flash sits 3 feet higher in the Stroboframe bracket pointed down to minimize shadows. It's not TTL, but I didn't miss it at all.

This was one of their highest power units back in the day (GN 150 for ISO100), and my guess is I used maybe 10% of its firing capacity--because the damn thing didn't take just one second to recycle, or 2 seconds--it took NO seconds. All night, 4 hours of shooting, on just a fresh set of alkalines, and it was all lights ready to GO instantaneously after pulling the trigger, right up until 11PM.

It blew me away. I had this same model back in the 80s (not the same unit), and don't remember it recycling anywhere near this fast. And no:

I did zero bouncing. It wouldn't have been a big deal to test a few, but I was so happy with the exposure and recycling time I was getting that I was afraid to screw around. I justified this in my mind by saying this is all about stark, seedy gambling--and softness has nothing to do with it. In retrospect, I now regret that. It wouldn't have hurt at all to do a few, and with my huge bracket, the flash head was literally maybe just 2 feet from the ceiling. Stupid mistake, plus bad judgment, but as a non-paying gig, at least it turned out to be a learning experience.

Well, that's it. Sorry to be so long-winded, but I like to reflect on these experiences while they're fresh in my mind. Plus, maybe it will be of help to others.

See you all later--with images.

02-26-2011, 12:07 PM   #9
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Eagerly awaiting the results!
02-26-2011, 03:28 PM   #10
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Well, 5:30PM my time now, and the shots aren't going up until late tonight. Have to hit the supermarket now for a barbecue, and also:

My house got cited by Code Enforcement last week for not having enough hedges in the front, and I ran around this afternoon looking for the "legally sanctioned" plants for this Nazi city I live in. Ficus is approved, except that for the last few years, there's been a "white bug" decimating all of them left and right, so the guy at the nursery suggested something called "Cherry Hedge."

I asked, "Is it legal?"

He said, "Well, at least it isn't marijuana."

I said, "Give me eight."

The list thing on my mind right now is GARDENING!

Unless it was marijuana, of course.
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