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11-20-2009, 08:00 AM   #1
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Help-Taking Candid Pictures of People in Low Light

Hello Out There,

I am attending a party tomorrow and am the designated photographer. The party will be in a low lit environment and obviously people will be moving around quite a bit. I dont want to use the flash as I've noticed that people get annoyed with that after awhile. I've played around with increasing the ISO which in turn increased the shutter speed, but not by much. Long story short.......is there a way to get good (preferrably great) photographs in this situation w/o the flash?

Any and all comments welcome.

Tanya

11-20-2009, 10:17 AM   #2
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I had to do this the other night. You should remember to put the flash up if you get a nice composition that you really want to remember. People won't freak if you use the flash a few times.

I was shooting some pics at 1/15 at iso 800, and some came out too dark, but looked great when converted to B/W. It helps to get really close, too.
11-20-2009, 10:37 AM   #3
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You need to have a fast lens without flash. f/1.7 or f/1.4.

You can bounce the flash with wide aperture and high iso and it won't bother anyone nearly as much
11-20-2009, 12:19 PM   #4
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Fast lens, high ISO, aggressive noise reduction.
Tolerate the results.

11-20-2009, 12:41 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by trickashay Quote
Hello Out There,

I am attending a party tomorrow and am the designated photographer. The party will be in a low lit environment and obviously people will be moving around quite a bit. I dont want to use the flash as I've noticed that people get annoyed with that after awhile. I've played around with increasing the ISO which in turn increased the shutter speed, but not by much. Long story short.......is there a way to get good (preferrably great) photographs in this situation w/o the flash?

Any and all comments welcome.

Tanya
The short answer to your question is NO.

Euriditass had a good response, use a flash bounce off the ceiling or off a wall. If you want to reduce the impact on folks, you can do it in a select area of the room, increase ISO to something you know will give you acceptable noise like 400 ISO, and reduce the amount of flash power. He also mentioned a fast lens, f2.8 is a minimum, but anything faster is helpful. (i recently took some scrooge pictures at a cemetery using ISO 3200.

There is another marginal technique. Put orange tape reflective tape around the legs of a tripod (or perhaps a monopod) and put it somewhere in the area where people won't be stumbling over it too much :-(. With a fast lens, reasonable ISO, you can sometimes get by with shutter speeds about 1 sec or less. Don't use a 2 sec delay, and perhaps a finger on the shutter or a cable will allow you quick shutter response. With a speed about 1 second, you will occasionally get a good shot, but many will be fuzzy, arms moving, talking will give you some fuzziness. Shutter speeds have two purposes, reduce blur from moving subjects, like humans, and giving the sensor enough time to record an image.

I think you will be far happier with the results if you take infrequent bounced flashes off the ceiling. Infrequent so you aren't irritating folks too much, some actually feel complimented by it. If you are going to take bounced flashes, be sure to set the iso down where your camera won't produce excess noise.

Whatever you choose, go to the site or set it up at home and try out your equipment and settings in advance. Can;t recommend this too much.l

I think low light situations like this is why folks get so excited anytime the ISO celing is pushed higher, as in the Kx. Its always been a weakness.

Phil
11-20-2009, 01:49 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by trickashay Quote
I've played around with increasing the ISO which in turn increased the shutter speed, but not by much.
Turning up the ISO increases shutter speed by *exactly* the same amount as you raised the ISO. Double the ISO, double the shutter speed. Quadruple the ISO, quadruple the shutter speed, etc. Make sure your lens is set to the largest aperture it can, and keep turning up the ISO until the shutter speed is fast enough. If you can't get it fast enugh enough at the highest ISO you have, then dial in negative exposure compensation to deliberately underexpose, and expect to need to fix that in post processing (you'll want to PP anyhow to apply some noise reduction). And then start saving for a lens with a larger maximum aperture. Meanwhile, you can also help your cause by trying to time your shots when people aren't moving quite so much.

I'm moving this to the beginner's forum, because I have a feeling if I don't, Gary will...
11-20-2009, 02:39 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
Turning up the ISO increases shutter speed by *exactly* the same amount as you raised the ISO. Double the ISO, double the shutter speed. Quadruple the ISO, quadruple the shutter speed, etc. Make sure your lens is set to the largest aperture it can, and keep turning up the ISO until the shutter speed is fast enough. If you can't get it fast enugh enough at the highest ISO you have, then dial in negative exposure compensation to deliberately underexpose, and expect to need to fix that in post processing (you'll want to PP anyhow to apply some noise reduction). And then start saving for a lens with a larger maximum aperture. Meanwhile, you can also help your cause by trying to time your shots when people aren't moving quite so much.

I'm moving this to the beginner's forum, because I have a feeling if I don't, Gary will...
I would add to shoot RAW if you plan to deliberately underexpose...PEF or DNG...
I wish I did when I was at the Airport taking some candids. I was shooting at f/2.8 and ISO 800 for the most part. And my shutter speed was not quite were I wanted it. 'SR' is a nice feature, but a higher SS would have been better.

Last edited by arbib; 11-20-2009 at 02:41 PM. Reason: Forgot a prepossession.. again
11-20-2009, 02:47 PM   #8
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Welcome to the forum Tanya

I would advise you to use flash (or at least have it setup ready to go when you need it), bounced or wireless if possible, if the venue allows. Subjects rarely worry about the effects of flash, especially if it's not directed right into their eyes (and direct flash gives less than flattering results anyway).

So look into using your fastest lens (largest aperture) and use it creatively (but not with too shallow a depth of field to ensure all of your subjects are in focus) with a bounced or wireless flash setup.

11-20-2009, 02:53 PM   #9
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I think that people are only initially annoyed and then get use to the photographer and somewhat ignore them after a time. Unless you dog a subject for several minutes and continue to take picture after picture of them. Depends on the event and the atmosphere of the party. (read as amount of alcohol being served)
Click and move a bit and the guests will get use to it. I have even had success with using a 50-200mm and flash. Or really freak out the guests and plant a few wireless triggers and flashes around the room, set up and wait for the victims to walk by. *flash* They won't know what hit 'em. Actually I may try that one meself sometime.
Unless you want to go utterly stealth that is. Then you'll have to get creative and don't forget your cyanide capsules in case you are captured alive.
11-20-2009, 04:04 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
Turning up the ISO increases shutter speed by *exactly* the same amount as you raised the ISO. Double the ISO, double the shutter speed. Quadruple the ISO, quadruple the shutter speed, etc. Make sure your lens is set to the largest aperture it can, and keep turning up the ISO until the shutter speed is fast enough. If you can't get it fast enugh enough at the highest ISO you have, then dial in negative exposure compensation to deliberately underexpose, and expect to need to fix that in post processing (you'll want to PP anyhow to apply some noise reduction). And then start saving for a lens with a larger maximum aperture. Meanwhile, you can also help your cause by trying to time your shots when people aren't moving quite so much.
Hi Marc,

Interested in this. Most of what I've read advises folks to "expose to the right" (i.e. not overexpose per se, but push the histogram to the right as much as possible) in low light (high ISO) situations. This permits negative exposure compensation in PP that helps to minimize noise.

What you're proposing is the opposite; underexpose. I assume this is at the cost of more noise-- since you will have to push exposure up in PP to get proper exposure?

If so, is the express goal here to buy a little faster shutter speed? Trying to understand what's gained if the cost is more noise introduced. Does negative exposure compensation really buy that much in terms of shutter speed?

Thanks for any insight you can lend.

-s
11-20-2009, 10:10 PM   #11
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Tanya, Certainly you have received some great advice and I have very little to add. It is also hard for me to recommend something with out knowing what you have as far as Lenses and body goes.. Now since I do allot of low light candid photography, what I tend to use is my21, 24 or 28mm prime lenses set to hyperfocal (zone focusing) so you don't need to worry about low light auto focus. Simply point and shoot. ISO should be min 1600 which any Pentax dslr will do easy. At F/2.8 with a short prime you will still have a good zone to work with..Good luck.
11-20-2009, 10:50 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by skoobie Quote
Interested in this. Most of what I've read advises folks to "expose to the right" (i.e. not overexpose per se, but push the histogram to the right as much as possible) in low light (high ISO) situations. This permits negative exposure compensation in PP that helps to minimize noise.
Well, sure - if you have the luxury of enough light to get a faster enough shutter speed, by all means, expose to the right (by slowing the shutter - that's your only option if you're already at wide open aperture). Or just use lower ISO, which accomplishes the same thing: less noise by slowing the shutter. But we're talking about low light here. Exposing to the right - again, the only way you accomplish this is by slowing the shutter - might give you less noise, but will just give you blur. Low light is all about getting fast enough shutter speed by any means necessary.

QuoteQuote:
If so, is the express goal here to buy a little faster shutter speed? Trying to understand what's gained if the cost is more noise introduced. Does negative exposure compensation really buy that much in terms of shutter speed?
It buys exactly as much as you dial in: 1 stop of negative compensation, for example, doubles your shutter speed. Which is often worth it.

Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 11-23-2009 at 11:51 AM.
11-22-2009, 04:21 PM   #13
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Buy a K-x immediately and have it shipped overnight or expedited 1 day shipping!
11-22-2009, 04:22 PM   #14
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Welcome to the forums too trickashay!
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