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06-12-2013, 07:31 PM   #1
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help with indoor formal event

Hi all, i feel like I need some advice. My wife has asked me to volunteer as a photographer for an event at her job. The event will be indoors, evening hours and I will be working with another volunteer photographer. I will be taking pictures of people (casual shots during the event) and during the delivery of prizes when the company director will deliver prizes to youth. No previous experience with this kind of setting, as I only take pictures around the house (my kids, flowers, etc). My gear consist of K5, DA 35, DA 40, FA 50, DA 70, F28, DA 16-45 and DA 18-135. Also i have available an external sigma flash and I just ordered a diffuser for it. Well... My question is Which lens to bring to this gathering? What kind of set up you recomend? I want to do a really good job on this one, somehow I feel I have to justify my collection of lenses and all the other gear and this is my chance.

So far I am thinking of bringing my K5 with the FA 50 and the external flash with the diffuser on it. Also I am thinking of getting a cable to attach the flash to the camera so I can move the flash around?. Please feel free to give me some much needed advice.
Thanks, Mario

06-12-2013, 07:38 PM   #2
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I should also add that even though this event gives me reason (if I ever needed a reason) to buy a fast telezoom, I want to do with what I have! I have the power to stop my LBA
06-12-2013, 07:59 PM   #3
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I would be tempted to bring the 16-45 as your prime lens. f/4 should be good enough with your K5's high ISO capability. For the group pictures, you will probably like the 16mm end better than the limited angle of view from the 50. An alternative, if you want to stick to primes, would be the DA 35 (normal angle of view) and DA 70 for the close ups. You could stick the 50 in your pocket in case the light is very low.
06-12-2013, 08:03 PM   #4
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I guess the difficult part will be the awards, as you will have little time to take a keeper of each prizewinner. Iīd go with the DA70 or FA50 so you can stay far from the subjects. The flash will be of great help for this moment.
You should get some gels to balance the flash with the ambient lighting. (fluorescent, tungsten?)
Also, practice with the flash and the DA70, FA50 (both in manual mode) to see which flash power / lens aperture / shutter speed) combination works best. IF you donīt have any experience with flash lighting, perhas better leaving it at home. Or learn a lot before the event!

06-12-2013, 08:07 PM   #5
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yeah, I guess I could use the 16-45, do you think I should use the flash at all? not sure of the lightning conditions, I am expecting low light and that's why I was thinking about my fast 50, the other thing is I am not sure how crowded this place will be.
06-12-2013, 08:29 PM   #6
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Zoom + Flash

Hello Mario,
I've been a 'semi' official photographer (they expect pro results but you don't get paid!) for indoor events several times. Although the lighting, people and conditions change for different events, one thing doesn't; You need the flexibility of a zoom, and a wide one. Now, don't get me wrong, I love my primes and own MANY more than zooms; But here I agree with Canada_Rockies completely. There will be times when you just can't back up far enough for a 35mm, in fact I've had situations where a 24mm prime wasn't wide enough. The 16-45mm will be your most-used lens unless the event is held in an airplane hanger. Even then, folks tend to bunch up and gather around, we're social creatures after all.
And the flash. Gotta have it indoors, even with your fastest glass on hand. My suggestion is to get fresh batteries and practice, then practice more. Bounce, tilt, diffuser, the works. The price of a set of AA's is cheap compared to the possible embarrassment of botching up important shots.
I'd skip the off-camera cord, you really need 3 hands and/or a dedicated helper for that trick. Bounce, zoom, tilt and diffuser will give you several different looks.
Shoot the 'gotta Have' shots with the flash, bump the ISO if you need to. A 'noisy' shot that's correctly exposed is much better than a too-dark photo.
I'd still take the 35, 50 and 70mm, after you get the official shots taken care of (chimp!), you'll have some stress-free time for available-light candids and more artistic work.
I like to look for the small details, a couple huddling up for a private word, kids, folks laughing. Every gathering has a mood, try to tune in and capture it.
Make a plan or list, what's needed and what's secondary for photos, then stick to it.
Spare camera battery, spare flash battery, spare SD card. 2 or 3 fast primes and a WA zoom. You could stick your tripod/monopod in the trunk just in case the lighting is really dim.
Stay calm and shoot dupes of everything you'll need.
Good Luck!

Last edited by rbefly; 06-12-2013 at 08:59 PM.
06-12-2013, 08:42 PM   #7
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There are basically a few shots you must have.

1) VIP shakes hand with host.
2) Prize Giving.
3) Speech.
4) Exchange of tokens if any.
5) Group photo.

Above are key shots for a lot of corporate events as usually will be used officially. The rest of the photos you take are basically extras.

Be sure to burst as it is difficult to get everything right in one shot especially if a lot of people are involved so set your flash power to sync with your burst speed. Use iso to compensate for it. Bring lots of batteries.
06-12-2013, 08:51 PM   #8
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Thanks for all your advice, seems like the 16-45 will be my best friend, I do have a grip for my k5 that I got from docwrm, so I will be ok for batteries. I will follow the advice of playing with the flash, I have not used it that much as I prefer to shoot with whatever ambient light I have but in this case I will be sure to bring it along! and I will also bring the primes since the don't take that much space in my bag. I am thinking of the 50, 35 and 70. Any tips on K5 and sigma flash?

06-12-2013, 09:33 PM   #9
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you most definitely need something longer than 135. Possibly wider too in case you want some isolation shots. I would recommend the Tamron 70-200 2.8, that is if you cannot resist the LBA
06-13-2013, 04:33 AM   #10
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If you can, I'd suggest you scout the location ahead of time. All your questions seem to depend on environmental stuff like whether there is a raised stage or dais, and what kind of lights are in the room. It might also clue you in as to how far you will be from your subjects. Ceiling height and color will help you determine whether you can bounce flash.
06-13-2013, 05:27 AM - 1 Like   #11
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I have similar lenses to what you have, including the 16-45, 18-135 and several primes. My main setup for this event would be the 18-135mm and diffused flash, preferably on a bracket. I agree with rebefly, primes are great for formal posed shots, but for events you need to get the shot, regardless of conditions. The 16-18mm range could be useful, but 45-135mm is far more important. A longer lens will ensure you can get there. Lens corrections for distortion and CA will bring the 18-135 IQ close enough to the 16-45 that it won't matter. The 18-135 has smoother bokeh and the long end allows better subject isolation.

P-TTL flash gives you control of the light. You won't have to rely on dim room lighting or worry about backlit subjects. A diffuser softens the flash light. Bounce if you can (i.e. if ceiling height and colour are conducive). A flash bracket gives you better lighting angles than mounting directly on the camera. Practice with flash before the event. Auto ISO confuses the camera IME, I never use it with flash. Depending on the amount of room lighting, I would go as high as ISO 800 with no hesitation. Remember that ISO will affect the amount of background you expose. If it's a dark room and you use a low ISO, your subject will be all lit up and surrounded by darkness. Not an appealing look.

Here's my setup, with the Custom Brackets Digital Folding T flash bracket:

Last edited by audiobomber; 06-13-2013 at 06:47 AM.
06-13-2013, 06:38 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by mariopato2010 Quote
I will follow the advice of playing with the flash, I have not used it that much as I prefer to shoot with whatever ambient light I have but in this case I will be sure to bring it along! [ ... snip ... ] Any tips on K5 and sigma flash?
Practice bounce flash in advance to get a feel for what flash compensation you prefer. Highlight protection is also good in combination with flash. The K-5 is a little - shall we say temperamental with bounce flash. You might experience some "generous" flash exposures with bounced p-ttl.

When I shoot events and bounce off low white ceilings, I like to run manual exposure, f/4, ISO 400 and 1/100 sec. That gives me about 1/4 power flash discharges and I can double-tap or triple-tap the subjects to catch more facial expressions etc.

If the ceiling is off-white, you can point the flash directly forward and make a custom white balance out of a shot of the flash-exposed ceiling. That will take care of the colour cast from beige, yellow or similar colour ceiling. It doesn't work with dark colours.

Yeah, ambient light photography is great when the ambient light is pretty (candlelit, window light etc), but it'll never match the crispness of a bounce-flash shot.

06-14-2013, 07:14 PM   #13
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I really like that L bracket, not sure if I could get one in time for the event (next week). Also seems like bouncing the flash is out of the picture since the main event will be happening in a gymnasium with high ceilings. I got more info from the organizers and seem like they want me to focus more on taking pictures of people during the gathering rather than photographing the delivery of prizes. I really appreciate all the help you guys have given me. I am very excited about next week and a bit anxious and why not. Thanks everyone
06-21-2013, 04:46 PM   #14
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Well, yesterday was the big day and just wanted to share some thoughts about my first experience as a "photographer". First: easier said than done. Even though I was volunteering as a photographer, I was feeling a bit anxious. Once I got to the venue I learnt I was going to be the main guy, that was after the other volunteer saw my gear (I know I have been collecting lots of stuff and the K5 with a grip and external flash looks impressive ). She thought I could do a better job doing the "portrait" like pics of each youth and then taking pics of the delivery of awards at the end of the evening. So I was "the" guy. Second: After looking at the pics once I was back home I felt I could've done a better job, I know I got a few good shots but I am certain I am better at taking pictures, maybe the choice of lens was not the best, I ended up using mainly the 16-45 because among the 2 zooms I have is the one I feel the more comfortable with. Tried to use the 18-135 but it did not work for me, it just I have not use it that much really. Never occurred to me that I could use the 50 or even the 70 for the close ups... oh well. Good learning experience. I still haven't seen the pictures in the computer but from what I saw in the lcd , I think most of the shot are a bit underexposed (even when using the sigma flash) and I actually I like that better than having the pics overexposed. I will be doing some pp in the next few days and I am sure I will get many good shots. I think I learnt quite a bit from this. I appreciate all the tips and advice you guys gave me. I am sure I will keep volunteering and learning more and I know experiences like this will just help me to become better at photography, Thanks
06-21-2013, 06:46 PM   #15
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IF you can pre-determine the ambient lighting at the venue, consider putting a gel over your flash to match the ambient light. This makes white balance much easier; and background subjects, while dimmer, won't have a color cast. At many venues the ceiling is too high to reliably use it for bounce. So, instead add your own bounce reflector or something like a Sto-Fen diffuser .... my spouse would be agast at me popping a plastic milk jug over my flash and using it at a corporate event, but you can do wonders with the light quality with such an expensive photo accessory.

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