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11-04-2009, 07:51 PM   #1
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Shooting baptism inside church?

Just after some tips for shooting a baptism at our church. It's just for a friend, but still it's obviously an important occasion for him.

I'm able to shoot from a couple of metres away from the one end of the pool. The pool is about 4m x 2m and about 2m deep.

I'll be photographing the baptism candidate walking down the stairs into the pool, and the actual dunking process. I guess this means the candidates will be between 10m and a few meters away.

Being an older church building, lighting will be quite dim with maybe just one spot light (tungsten? Colour is warm) from a high ceiling. I haven't had a chance to take a reading yet.

I've got the following equipment at my disposal:
- *ist DS
- FA 50mm 1.4 (for a full-length portrait shot just before he goes down - or do I need something wider on a cropped sensor?, and for the actual dunking)
- A 28mm 2.8
- DA 18-55mm II
- AF280T flash (TTL works with jmy DS)
- other lenses I wasn't planning to use: Super Tak 135mm 2.5, Zenitar fish eye, Tamron 80-250mm 3.8-4.5 zoom, A 1.7 50mm, K 1.2 50mm (I got this v cheaply...still practising MF & too scared to use on anything live!)
- tripod not allowed

In addition, it's an evening service at 5pm (in Sydney), which means lighting can change quite rapidly during the service.

Any tips on how to go about this? My advice to myself would be:
- take up position early, and take some test shots
- set ISO to Auto, max out at 800 (or 1600 if necessary)
- use the FA50mm without flash, and see results. I guess I'll need a shutter of above 1/50s to stop camera shake and motion blur?
- if it's too dark, pull out the AF280T. I just use my business card as a bounce card. Shoot with flash tilted at 75 degrees, and add +1 flash exp comp. Set ISO to 400.
- use a hood (i got a Tak 28mm square hood) and a UV filter to protect the lens (from splashes/bumps)
- bend down low and shoot!

I'll then use the 28mm or kit lens lens to shoot group shots with family and so on with the flash. Now, I haven't really done much with the flash before. I've got a question - what's the best way to use a flash to photograph a group of 8-10 indoors, when there's no ceiling to bounce? Is tilting 75 degrees with a white card stuck on top the way to go? I was planning to shoot at f8 for a 8-10 group, and f6.3 for a smaller group.

Thanks a lot an in advance!


Last edited by iht; 11-04-2009 at 08:32 PM.
11-05-2009, 06:35 AM   #2
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IHT, looks to me like you have a pretty good handle on it. If you are using the 50 1.4 it is highly doubtful you will need a flash in that environment. Don't forget to get a shot of the dunker with the dunkee
11-06-2009, 08:10 AM   #3
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Maybe something with speed and length (Tamron 70-200 F2.8, DA 50-135, etc.)? It may be better to be a bit away from the participants than right on top of them, especially if other family members will be taking photos. Just a thought.
11-06-2009, 09:40 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by iht Quote
I've got the following equipment at my disposal:
- *ist DS
- FA 50mm 1.4 (for a full-length portrait shot just before he goes down - or do I need something wider on a cropped sensor?, and for the actual dunking)
- A 28mm 2.8
- DA 18-55mm II
- AF280T flash (TTL works with jmy DS)
- other lenses I wasn't planning to use: Super Tak 135mm 2.5, Zenitar fish eye, Tamron 80-250mm 3.8-4.5 zoom, A 1.7 50mm, K 1.2 50mm (I got this v cheaply...still practising MF & too scared to use on anything live!)
- tripod not allowed
I'm not sure I fully understand where you'll be shooting from, but it sounds to me like the 50 f/1.4 will be your best choice of lens here. I might bring the 28 f/2.8 along, too, to get a wider (closer to normal) shot.




QuoteQuote:
In addition, it's an evening service at 5pm (in Sydney), which means lighting can change quite rapidly during the service.
Right. Very good that you're aware of this. Keep it in mind during the service.



QuoteQuote:
Any tips on how to go about this? My advice to myself would be:
- take up position early, and take some test shots
- set ISO to Auto, max out at 800 (or 1600 if necessary)
With a K10D/K20D or K-7, I'd say put it into TAv priority mode, set the shutter to something like 1/60th sec, aperture to f/2 or something like that, and allow auto-ISO to go up to 1600. This is the approach that I take shooting weddings. Keep in mind that it's generally better to use a higher ISO to get close to a "correct" exposure and deal with the noise in post-processing, than it is to underexpose the shot badly and then have to brighten it up in post. Doing the latter seems to give you a shot with MORE noise than you get with the former approach. ISO 1600 on the *ist DS isn't really too bad, so don't be afraid to go there if you need to.

Now, the *ist DS doesn't have TAv mode, so let me think this through.

You can't slow the shutter down too much. This isn't a wedding where the bride and groom are often standing quite still looking deeply into one another's eyes or giving the impression of listening attentively to the priest. A baptism like this involves subject movement. A little blur might be acceptable, but if you shoot at 1/30th sec, I'd be afraid that it would be unacceptably blurry. Also, considering that the *ist DS does not have shake reduction AND you can't shoot with a tripod, I'd say your minimum shutter speed would have to be 1/60th sec. 1/100th sec would probably be better. And I think the shutter speed has to be your first consideration here.

After shutter speed, you can turn to aperture. With the 50mm lens, even if you're only 5 meters (15-20 ft) away, you'll have a decent amount of depth of field - narrow but not razor thin. In other words, go ahead and open the lens up to f/2 or even f/1.8 or f/1.4.

Now, you need to control both the aperture and the shutter, so I would urge you to use M mode. Set your camera to (say) 1/100th sec and f/2, and set the ISO to 1600. Test the exposure. If those settings give you an overexposure, reduce the ISO. If those settings give you an underexposure, reduce the shutter to 1/60th sec and/or open the aperture a little more.


QuoteQuote:
- use the FA50mm without flash, and see results. I guess I'll need a shutter of above 1/50s to stop camera shake and motion blur?
Right. See above.


QuoteQuote:
- if it's too dark, pull out the AF280T. I just use my business card as a bounce card. Shoot with flash tilted at 75 degrees, and add +1 flash exp comp. Set ISO to 400.
Well, you must make sure that flash is permitted. If it is, then rethink everything with flash in mind. I would not change lenses.


QuoteQuote:
- use a hood (i got a Tak 28mm square hood) and a UV filter to protect the lens (from splashes/bumps)
If you're close enough to get wet, I'd suggest backing away. It's not the front of the lens that you're worried about. I would probably NOT use a filter. I think all filters cut down the light that makes its way to the sensor.



QuoteQuote:
I'll then use the 28mm or kit lens lens to shoot group shots with family and so on with the flash. Now, I haven't really done much with the flash before. I've got a question - what's the best way to use a flash to photograph a group of 8-10 indoors, when there's no ceiling to bounce? Is tilting 75 degrees with a white card stuck on top the way to go? I was planning to shoot at f8 for a 8-10 group, and f6.3 for a smaller group.
Ah, this is a whole 'nother subject. My advice is, practice as much as you can beforehand. If you can't practice, then point the flash right at the subjects, shoot in P mode, P-TTL, and let the camera figure things out for you. When you start trying to get fancy with the flash - bouncing, using flash modifiers, etc. - you run the real risk of making things WORSE rather than better. That's why it's really important to have experience with the approaches you're taking, and to have experience in many different shooting environments. The way flash works outside the studio is infinitely variable. A 12 ft ceiling will handle the flash differently from a 10 ft ceiling. Walls painted dark blue bounce differently from walls painted light blue. If you take the default approach (point the flash at the subjects and let P-TTL sort out the exposure) you will probably get OK results and at least you'll reduce the risk of disaster. Otherwise you really need to have a good sense of what to try, take some test photos, and adjust. Flash is hard.

Good luck.

Will

11-06-2009, 03:43 PM   #5
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Hey guys, very much appreciate you taking time out to give a bit of great advice, esp to WMBP.

QuoteQuote:
I'm not sure I fully understand where you'll be shooting from, but it sounds to me like the 50 f/1.4 will be your best choice of lens here. I might bring the 28 f/2.8 along, too, to get a wider (closer to normal) shot.
I'll try my best to describe our church: the baptism pool is right at the front of house (behind where the pastor would preach from). For a baptism service, usually 3-4 (I'm one of them here) would come forward and take a few photos. I'm shoot from the opposite end of the pool from which the baptism candidate will walk down and get dunked. There are some choir pews next to the pool, so I'll be sitting at one of them as close as a couple of metres from the pool.

QuoteQuote:
Maybe something with speed and length (Tamron 70-200 F2.8, DA 50-135, etc.)? It may be better to be a bit away from the participants than right on top of them, especially if other family members will be taking photos. Just a thought.
I don't have a tele fast zoom, although my feeling is can be a bit slow even at f2.8 esp without SR. There should be plenty of room to allow other members to come forward. I guess in this case my position will depend on the view given by the 50mm.

QuoteQuote:
Now, you need to control both the aperture and the shutter, so I would urge you to use M mode. Set your camera to (say) 1/100th sec and f/2, and set the ISO to 1600. Test the exposure. If those settings give you an overexposure, reduce the ISO. If those settings give you an underexposure, reduce the shutter to 1/60th sec and/or open the aperture a little more.
Thanks for the advice. I guess the main point is to test the exposure BEFORE the big moment. I'll take your advice in getting the setup with the fastest allowable shutter speed. I regularly go to 1600 ISO, and whilst noise is visible, I certainly don't think it ruins the photo. I have never tried 3200, but just from my experience, I would certainly agree that shooting at a higher ISO to start with is more preferable to bumping exposure in PP.

QuoteQuote:
Well, you must make sure that flash is permitted. If it is, then rethink everything with flash in mind. I would not change lenses.
Being a member of the church, I know flash is permitted esp for this type of occasions. However, I'd prefer to avoid using flash anyway, just to not be too much of a distraction, and as well, I have very little knowledge in knowing how to use a flash properly, and since I have a fast lens, might as well see what it can do first before resorting to a flash.

QuoteQuote:
If you're close enough to get wet, I'd suggest backing away. It's not the front of the lens that you're worried about. I would probably NOT use a filter. I think all filters cut down the light that makes its way to the sensor.
Sure, I'll take off the filter, and make sure I'm at a safe working distance.

QuoteQuote:
Ah, this is a whole 'nother subject. My advice is, practice as much as you can beforehand. If you can't practice, then point the flash right at the subjects, shoot in P mode, P-TTL, and let the camera figure things out for you.
I wish I could practise more, but it's on tomorrow! I'll set the AF280T to TTL (P-TTL is not available), and I'll take your advice in pointing the flash into the subjects. These shots will mainly be group shots from 2 to 10 people. I guess the whole thing is a bit of a practice anyway.

QuoteQuote:
A 12 ft ceiling will handle the flash differently from a 10 ft ceiling. Walls painted dark blue bounce differently from walls painted light blue. If you take the default approach (point the flash at the subjects and let P-TTL sort out the exposure) you will probably get OK results and at least you'll reduce the risk of disaster.
Well, the ceiling is more like 25 metres...no bouncing off ceiling is possible. I often see people with a business card at the end of the flash, with the card pointed at the subject. I guess what they're trying to do is combine the flash bounced from the ceiling, and the a bit of lighting on the subject's face to remove shadows. Well, I can't bounce...so I guess the card is not necessary then? Just as you said, directly at the subjects?


QuoteQuote:
Flash is hard.
Yes!!

QuoteQuote:
Don't forget to get a shot of the dunker with the dunkee
Oh yes! Will try!

Thanks guys for all the tips. I really appreciate it. I'll get back to you to let you know how I go!

Last edited by iht; 11-06-2009 at 03:49 PM.
11-06-2009, 04:55 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by iht Quote
I don't have a tele fast zoom, although my feeling is can be a bit slow even at f2.8 esp without SR. There should be plenty of room to allow other members to come forward. I guess in this case my position will depend on the view given by the 50mm.
Right, I suspect that's your best idea. Remember, 50mm is telephoto on your camera! As for the zoom part, that's why God gave us feet. :-)


QuoteQuote:
Thanks for the advice. I guess the main point is to test the exposure BEFORE the big moment. I'll take your advice in getting the setup with the fastest allowable shutter speed. I regularly go to 1600 ISO, and whilst noise is visible, I certainly don't think it ruins the photo. I have never tried 3200, but just from my experience, I would certainly agree that shooting at a higher ISO to start with is more preferable to bumping exposure in PP.
I've tried 3200 on the *ist DS and, well, it would be better if you could avoid it. With my K20D, I will go to ISO 2000 sometimes if I really have to, on the idea that I can use all that extra resolution to clean up the noise better.


QuoteQuote:
Being a member of the church, I know flash is permitted esp for this type of occasions. However, I'd prefer to avoid using flash anyway, just to not be too much of a distraction, and as well, I have very little knowledge in knowing how to use a flash properly, and since I have a fast lens, might as well see what it can do first before resorting to a flash.
Restricting yourself to available light will have another advantage: your results will be more reliable, more predictable.

I mean, if it's permitted to use flash and if the lighting is so challenging that flash is the only way to avoid an exposure setting that's just unacceptable, well, then you use flash. But it doesn't sound like the light will be THAT bad.



QuoteQuote:
I wish I could practise more, but it's on tomorrow! I'll set the AF280T to TTL (P-TTL is not available), and I'll take your advice in pointing the flash into the subjects. These shots will mainly be group shots from 2 to 10 people. I guess the whole thing is a bit of a practice anyway.
I've never used that flash unit. I gather that TTL produces okay results. I would certainly do a little practicing tonight or tomorrow when you first get to church.

Generally, I've heard again and again from photographers doing their first wedding that they got better results just pointing the flash at the subjects and doing it like an amateur, and this makes sense. But I don't generally work that way myself. I could give a ton of advice on flash but it's not like I'm a great expert on the subject myself and what I think I know, I frankly find kind of hard to explain. There are just so many variables and factors to consider.

Anyway, I think that, when you aren't confident about doing anything "fancy," the safe bet is probably to keep it simple. You might have to do a little red-eye correction in post, but that's not a big deal.

If you can't bounce, there's no big advantage to using modifiers or cards. You can usually achieve pretty much the same effect by dialing down the flash slightly. But if the flash is metering okay, I'd say leave it alone.


QuoteQuote:
Well, the ceiling is more like 25 metres...no bouncing off ceiling is possible. I often see people with a business card at the end of the flash, with the card pointed at the subject. I guess what they're trying to do is combine the flash bounced from the ceiling, and the a bit of lighting on the subject's face to remove shadows. Well, I can't bounce...so I guess the card is not necessary then? Just as you said, directly at the subjects?
Yeah, the white card (built into many flash units (although I seem to break 'em off pretty quickly) is there to provide a catch light in the subjects' eyes. The Demb Flip-It bounce card (and similar modifiers) takes the idea a bit further by providing a larger reflective surface and one that you can control by changing the angle. But just about all of these modifiers are most useful when you can bounce the rest of the light. I saw a photographer in the park a few weeks ago, early morning, bright sunny day, using a Gary Fong lightsphere while doing a portrait. Not sure what he was thinking it was going to do. MIGHT possibly provide a catch light for the eyes, but I doubt it.

25 meters = what, about 80 ft?? Wow, that's a really high ceiling.

Good luck,

Will
11-08-2009, 07:33 PM   #7
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Totally off topic, and just curious...LDS baptism?
11-09-2009, 06:48 AM   #8
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Why do you ask, Kierra? Do LDS do it significantly different than others??

11-10-2009, 11:01 PM   #9
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Nope, nothing different really, just don't allow pictures of the actual baptism.

I'm only curious because my husband was an LDS missionary in Sydney for 2 years. Not that that means that the only baptisms down there are LDS, I just thought it would be a fun coincidence.
11-11-2009, 01:42 AM   #10
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I shot a recent christening early on in the day (10am) and had a K10D with FA50mm f/1.4 and the K20D mounted with the Sigma 17-70mm and I shot with this one all but 2 shots.I find the when it hits the fan the 17-70 wont miss anything,but when time permits 50mm a gem for portraits


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11-11-2009, 02:49 AM   #11
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Just one more thing to keep an eye on is the white balance. Our local church has a form of electric lighting that took a long time to warm up (over five minutes) and consequently the white balance shifted over some crucial moments very. very subtley. I was lucky to pick it up quickly, as the sunlight through the stain glass helped to mask the effect as I looked in the preview screen.

Other than that I had a K20D and an FA 50mm F1.4 and no flash. Very natural results.
11-11-2009, 07:43 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by jawsy Quote
Just one more thing to keep an eye on is the white balance. Our local church has a form of electric lighting that took a long time to warm up (over five minutes) and consequently the white balance shifted over some crucial moments very. very subtley. I was lucky to pick it up quickly, as the sunlight through the stain glass helped to mask the effect as I looked in the preview screen.

I shoot raw, use auto-WB, and never worry about it. I correct occasionally on the computer in post, but I'm honestly rather surprised at how often my cameras get it right (especially the K20D).

Will
11-13-2009, 04:23 PM   #13
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QuoteQuote:
Totally off topic, and just curious...LDS baptism?
We're not LDS. Baptism is a significant symbol/occasion for the candidate and the church community because of what it signifies, and hence we welcome photos to be taken by guests and members. You can see my profile if you're interested in which church it is.

QuoteQuote:
I shoot raw, use auto-WB, and never worry about it. I correct occasionally on the computer in post, but I'm honestly rather surprised at how often my cameras get it right (especially the K20D).
Thanks for the tip. Yeah, I do the same as well, except I can't say DS does a particularly good job at AWB, but I batch correct things in LR, which does do a great job.

QuoteQuote:
25 meters = what, about 80 ft?? Wow, that's a really high ceiling.
Well, maybe not 25m...but it's definitely high! Our building is over 100 years old and that seemed to be the church architectural style at the time.

QuoteQuote:
Good luck,
Anyway, it's done! I would have loved to put up some photos, but obviously they're private photos so I won't be doing that, but I will share with you how I've gone!

During the service, I used the FA 50mm exclusively. I shot at f2.5-f3.5 at ISO 800. Whilst some shots required LR exposure adjustments (up), the lens was more than capable in that lighting. I now know I've got a setup that can really handle relatively low light. I do have a f1.2 up my sleeve if that is ever required, although the DOF must be so narrow.

For the actual dunking, I had a shoot from a different position than I expected given the different physical setup on the day. I was actually about 10m away from the centre of the pool, rather than shooting from the side. I took a few shots of the actual dunking in portrait and landscape orientations. It turned out 50mm as a focal length was just fine - I just needed to crop a little in post. With the DS with only 6MP, I don't quite have as much freedom to crop as those with a more modern DSLR, but still, I was happy with the results.

After the service, I left my 50mm on to take couple shots (with the pastor, with mum, with girlfriend, etc.) It was definitely getting darker then, and most shots had to go to ISO 1600. I was mostly happy with these, except on a couple the FA 50mm missed the focus, which I didn't pick up at the time.

From a photographer's point of view, I would have wanted to experiment with some wider and longer shots of the congregation and the candidate, but as I was also part of the service, I just didn't have time for that. I'm invited to a wedding next week, so I might try a few things then.

We went to the baptism candidate's home for dinner afterwards, and I some group shots then. With a white ceiling about 3 meters high, I tried both bouncing the flash (with a +1 flash EC) and pointing the flash straight into the group (with a -1 flash EC). I find the bounced shots looking much more natural and even lighting, and peoples have more normal looking eyes! I was shooting at f11 (group of 12), and I find even with a +1 EV, the bounced shots needed a LR exposure adjustment up. Again, I was happy with the results.

All in all, it was a very happy occasion, and from a photography point of view, it was a great learning experience. Thanks again for all the tips and help. Much appreciated.
11-13-2009, 06:53 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by iht Quote
All in all, it was a very happy occasion, and from a photography point of view, it was a great learning experience. Thanks again for all the tips and help. Much appreciated.
Sounds like you got through it quite well. Congrats.

Will
11-14-2009, 12:00 AM   #15
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and yes. an esp thanks to Will for all the great advice!
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