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12-01-2013, 06:20 AM   #1
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Nightlife photography problem with K5 & 540FGZ

Hi, im looking for some advice with nightlife photography. The effect i'm after is the classic trailing lights. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1426618117567870&set=pb.141556532533...type=3&theater

I thought I was using correct settings;

K5
Af540FGZ
Sigma 17-70mm or 10-20mm 4-5.6

1/2-1/5 shutter
f/5.6
100 ISO

Flash and camera set to trailing curtain sync. Move the camera at the lights to begin with, then compose for the flash. However the flash fires once at the start, and then again at the end of the shot. This seems to me like it's ruining the shot as it overpowers all the light trails i'm trying to bring in at the start of the shot.

Can anyone give any advice? I've checked the setting and there doesn't seem to be anything relevant.

Thanks for any help


Last edited by Pwn4g3_P13; 12-01-2013 at 06:30 AM.
12-01-2013, 07:04 AM   #2
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There is an article in the latest PhotoLife about event photography. You can get some tips there. One of the tips was that the flash should be -2 to -3 EV so that it doesn't overpower the ambient light and trailing lights you are trying to capture. Trailing curtain should be right. I think the light at the start is part of the P-TTL auto-exposure so it shouldn't be in the image - it just fires to test the scene before the shutter is open. You can also you Auto mode on the flash - flash does all the flash metering. It works well, without the P-TTL pre-trigger. Or you can use Manual flash power mode.

Using flash at an event can be troublesome because smoke usually fogs the scene due to flash light bouncing of the smoke - you get a blue grey haze in the image - but it may be interesting if the flash level is -2, -3 EV.
12-01-2013, 09:37 AM   #3
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What you need to consider is that the flash should be set to about-I stop, perhaps a little more. You want a reasonable contribution from the natural light, and then add the flash at the end


In fact, it may bot matter where the flash is relative to the natural lighting, in terms of beginning of the exposure
12-03-2013, 01:51 AM - 1 Like   #4
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Here are some practical tips I copied from somewhere else on the web (no link available anymore) from a guy who does this every week-end for several venues that you might like to try:

QuoteQuote:
My main client is a live music venue and the agreement is to get at least 50 pics, 80% of patrons and 20% of the band. I usually go over an above when possible on a busy night and get up to 90 for them sometimes.

My go-to settings are 1/3rd of a second shutter, f 6.3, iso 640 and flash on 1/32 power with rear curtain.

Then its a matter of getting the subjects to stand with some nice bright lights behind them and fire away. I often take 2 pics as safety's on, then on the third, flick my wrist and spin the camera to get the back lights to trail. The longish shutter draws out the colour in the lights in the background and gives the light trail effect.

Then the flash pops at the end of the shutter and lights up the subject in the foreground when the camrea is more or less level with the horizion again (assuming you time it right)

I'll pretty much leave the camera settings alone for the most part and just control the foreground lighting with the aperture. If it's 2 or 3 people the above settings will suffice. If its a group of 5,6 or more, I'll open the aperture up a bit, say 4.5 for a big group. so long as they are crammed together in a more or less straight line, focus isn't an issue.

Always shoot with plenty of space around them and worry about cropping later in post.

Always show them the pic, if they don't look happy, offer to go again. This is so next time they see me, hopefully they'll be keen again after getting a good photo the first time round.

In post its basically up the contrast, pull down the highlights a little if the faces are too bright, crank up the shadows to help even the picture out and turn up the vibrance a little to bring the colour out. Don't go too hard or they'll start getting orange skin.


12-03-2013, 04:33 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pwn4g3_P13 Quote
However the flash fires once at the start, and then again at the end of the shot. This seems to me like it's ruining the shot as it overpowers all the light trails i'm trying to bring in at the start of the shot.
It's probably not. Your flash will fire once or twice at the beginning of the shot. Once as a pTTL preflash and once for red-eye reduction. Those are done before the shutter opens and should not affect the image.
12-03-2013, 10:38 PM   #6
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I like what Rawr has quoted as a good option, although you would have to be a consistent distance away from the closest subject to get the same exposure when dialing in a manual ratio. Your most consistent results will be by using auto-thyrister (AUTO) and compute your flash exposure to be one stop or a little less underexposed. Once you get the right fill setting, you should get consistent results. P-ttl just isn't a good system for oddball settings - and preflash is particularly annoying with a slow shutter speed and trailing curtain because everyone reacts to the double flash - long lag. If not blinkies, you get people who show tension in their faces as they are reacting to the first flash.
12-05-2013, 11:01 AM   #7
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Okey thanks everyone for the help - is there a way to save flash strength as part of a camera USER setting? it's annoying having to redo the flash intensity if I have to turn off the flash for any reason in manual mode?
12-05-2013, 09:38 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pwn4g3_P13 Quote
Okey thanks everyone for the help - is there a way to save flash strength as part of a camera USER setting? it's annoying having to redo the flash intensity if I have to turn off the flash for any reason in manual mode?
Not sure I understand, but I suspect that the 540 is not that "smart" in terms of getting USER direction from the camera. Just to make the point again - "Auto" will yield consistent results even as you vary your distance from your subjects. The flash should remember the setting when you turn it back on (although I don't have a 540 to confirm that). Plenty of fine Auto flashes out there for not much money in case you can't get the 540 to cooperate.

12-08-2013, 07:28 AM   #9
5R7
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the problem IS pttl metering. The only way to get consistent results in nightclubs is manual flash power rear synch and NOT using auto. as when in auto, it will take a reading before opening the shutter, and if it happens to be dark (flashing lights for instance are off in that split second), the flash then tries to light up everything, and your shots come out overexposed. Flash is an area pentax simply lags behind the canikons! I beleive the metz af 58af2 allows you to set manual flash power in rear synch, I have the 48af1, and it doesnt, and its a pain. even if you dial in minus flash power of 2, you will still unfortunately get overexposed shots...
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