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Thread: Nightlife Photography Help

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    Member BJH's Avatar
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    Nightlife Photography Help

    I have a job tonight taking photos at a couple of venues and I am looking for recommendations regarding what equipment, camera settings, and techniques to use. I've taken these kind of photos before but the job was of an extremely casual nature so I pretty much just winged it and the photos were not quite on par with the photos I see taken by more serious nightclub photographers, and I feel also not on par with what my employer will be expecting of me tonight.

    Here are some examples, of varying quality, taken with a Canon 600D, 430EX II speedlite, and two different lenses. The ones with a dark vignette were shot through a sigma 10-20mm wide angle, the ones without were shot through the canon 18-55mm macro that came with my camera.








    And here are a few examples of what I'd like my photos to look like.

    Edited to remove images that are apparently not copyright to you. Please do not post images that you do not own the copyright to. Refer to the forum rules please.

    Now for some questions.
    Firstly, is the vignette in my photos caused by the wide angle lens and/or flash settings? Or is it something else entirely? I kind of like the effect it gives some photos but I don't think it matches the look the venues I'm shooting at are looking for. My knowledge of the speedlite's settings is pretty limited and I usually just go by trial and error. I'd like to get a greater understanding of the different settings and modes. I've read the manual but it seems more focused on instructing me how to operate the speedlite and navigate the interface. I can do those things just fine but I'm more interested in understanding the principles involved, primarily what the zoom setting changes, the the different modes mean. The lighting at the venue I'm assuming will be similar to to the examples I've provided, there will be no flashy lights/lasers or smoke machines or any of that stuff. Based on these details, opinions on the ideal flash settings would be greatly appreciated. Also, would my shots be improved if I had a flash diffuser? Typically every nightclub photographer I've observed uses one and I'm wondering how significant the differences might be.
    Moving onto lenses, I'd really appreciate opinions on which one to use tonight. With the wide angle I like being able to stand closer to the subject so I don't have to worry about the flash losing it's effectiveness over distance, and it's better for shooting larger groups of people but I'd like to avoid the vignette. Also the macro is better for taking vertical shots which I might be asked to do quite a bit tonight. Opinions on any lens filters that are good for this type of thing are welcome. I currently just have a UV filter on both of the lenses I've been talking about. I do have a 50mm fixed portrait lens that i didn't plan on using tonight due to it's lack of versatilty, but if anybody can tell me why it'd be a good idea to give it a go I'm all ears.
    Also I've been thinking about getting a new lens for a while now. If anybody has any recommendations for a lens that would better suit this type of photography I'm not averse to going out today and buying one. My budget is around $600-$800

    I think that just about covers everything I wanted to know, but if I think of more I will edit this post.
    Thank you.
    Last edited by I @ M; 03-01-2015 at 10:15am.

  2. #2
    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BJH View Post
    I have a job tonight taking photos at a couple of venues and I am looking for recommendations regarding what equipment, camera settings, and techniques to use. I've taken these kind of photos before but the job was of an extremely casual nature so I pretty much just winged it and the photos were not quite on par with the photos I see taken by more serious nightclub photographers, and I feel also not on par with what my employer will be expecting of me tonight.

    Here are some examples, of varying quality, taken with a Canon 600D, 430EX II speedlite, and two different lenses. The ones with a dark vignette were shot through a sigma 10-20mm wide angle, the ones without were shot through the canon 18-55mm macro that came with my camera.


    And here are a few examples of what I'd like my photos to look like.

    Edited to remove images that are apparently not copyright to you. Please do not post images that you do not own the copyright to. Refer to the forum rules please.

    Now for some questions.
    Firstly, is the vignette in my photos caused by the wide angle lens and/or flash settings? Or is it something else entirely? I kind of like the effect it gives some photos but I don't think it matches the look the venues I'm shooting at are looking for. My knowledge of the speedlite's settings is pretty limited and I usually just go by trial and error. I'd like to get a greater understanding of the different settings and modes. I've read the manual but it seems more focused on instructing me how to operate the speedlite and navigate the interface. I can do those things just fine but I'm more interested in understanding the principles involved, primarily what the zoom setting changes, the the different modes mean. The lighting at the venue I'm assuming will be similar to to the examples I've provided, there will be no flashy lights/lasers or smoke machines or any of that stuff. Based on these details, opinions on the ideal flash settings would be greatly appreciated. Also, would my shots be improved if I had a flash diffuser? Typically every nightclub photographer I've observed uses one and I'm wondering how significant the differences might be.
    Moving onto lenses, I'd really appreciate opinions on which one to use tonight. With the wide angle I like being able to stand closer to the subject so I don't have to worry about the flash losing it's effectiveness over distance, and it's better for shooting larger groups of people but I'd like to avoid the vignette. Also the macro is better for taking vertical shots which I might be asked to do quite a bit tonight. Opinions on any lens filters that are good for this type of thing are welcome. I currently just have a UV filter on both of the lenses I've been talking about. I do have a 50mm fixed portrait lens that i didn't plan on using tonight due to it's lack of versatilty, but if anybody can tell me why it'd be a good idea to give it a go I'm all ears.
    Also I've been thinking about getting a new lens for a while now. If anybody has any recommendations for a lens that would better suit this type of photography I'm not averse to going out today and buying one. My budget is around $600-$800

    I think that just about covers everything I wanted to know, but if I think of more I will edit this post.
    Thank you.
    Hi BJH.
    The 2nd image shows that the speedlight's effective field of illumination is too narrow for the field of view (FOV) of the lens used.
    At f=10mm the Σ10-20 is certainly quite wide. Its specs are here.
    They state that its "coverage" is 24-105 (like the lens, but on what sensor size I don't know). But then it says there is a "wide panel" and presumably this makes it good
    down to 14mm (again, what sensor size??).

    Two suggestions: 1) try the lens ans flash on a blank wall inside somewhere and look at the resulting illumination. Take that as a guide. NOTE it WILL have limitations.
    2) If you have a diffuser (is that wide panel one of these?) give it a whirl with that. NOTE that a diffuser will effectively reduce the guide number
    (output) of the flash. You'll need to compensate for this via ISO or aperture used.

    Alamost finally, what is the 50mm lens? What is its widest aperture? Of course it will have a narrower FOV than the others, but it might have a wider maximum
    aperture. That would give you some more flash range, and its narrower FOV That would certainly solve your vignette problem.. BUT: I'm not sure what you mean by
    "vertical shots". From above?

    And finally, your last few pictures show that in outdoor/wide hall settings, flash output fall-off will be greater, as there are no other reflecting surfaces to
    "channel" the light into the scene.

    One past "finally": No wide lens will have an aperture wide enough to catch all the light for your money, so you'll need to work on the flash technique. Perhaps a 2nd flash to
    broaden the illumination pattern.

    Am.
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    You want to learn all this before 5PM tonight?

    The best advice i can give you now is this:
    Set your flash on ETTL. Make sure your flash zoom is in AUTO.
    Set your camera in "P" mode and use your kit lens 18-55.
    You can use your Exposure Compensation dial to vary the exposure slightly.
    You have a few hours before your gigs so you have time to practice that.

    But my real advice is this:
    Use whatever money you will get from this gig to invest in some education.
    Books, photography courses, online training.
    you need to understand light - both flash and ambient
    what you call vignetting is not vignetting at all. It's not caused by the lens, but by the light, or lack thereof.
    mixing ambient with flash at a proper ratio. This is the main fault with all your images above. If you get that, your images will look infinitely better!
    Learn shutter drag technique,
    Learn about rear curtain synch.

    You can NOT learn all this before your gig. Flash is very difficult to master, not because its so much harder.. but mainly because you can't see it.
    Therefore you need to "imagine" what it may look like, but to imagine something you must know exactly how it works.

    What you have going for you is the fact that you got someone to PAY you to take pictures.
    Even before you knew anything about photography.
    That is something most amateur photographers can never do

    All you need now is for your photography skills to catch up to your "selling" skills and you have yourself a good earner
    “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst" – Henri Cartier-Bresson
    **Commercial Link Removed by Admin**

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    Quote Originally Posted by CandidTown View Post
    You want to learn all this before 5PM tonight?

    The best advice i can give you now is this:
    Set your flash on ETTL. Make sure your flash zoom is in AUTO.
    Set your camera in "P" mode and use your kit lens 18-55.
    You can use your Exposure Compensation dial to vary the exposure slightly.
    You have a few hours before your gigs so you have time to practice that.

    But my real advice is this:
    Use whatever money you will get from this gig to invest in some education.
    Books, photography courses, online training.
    you need to understand light - both flash and ambient
    what you call vignetting is not vignetting at all. It's not caused by the lens, but by the light, or lack thereof.
    mixing ambient with flash at a proper ratio. This is the main fault with all your images above. If you get that, your images will look infinitely better!
    Learn shutter drag technique,
    Learn about rear curtain synch.

    You can NOT learn all this before your gig. Flash is very difficult to master, not because its so much harder.. but mainly because you can't see it.
    Therefore you need to "imagine" what it may look like, but to imagine something you must know exactly how it works.

    What you have going for you is the fact that you got someone to PAY you to take pictures.
    Even before you knew anything about photography.
    That is something most amateur photographers can never do

    All you need now is for your photography skills to catch up to your "selling" skills and you have yourself a good earner
    Of course don't expect to learn all of this before 5PM tonight. The gig is at 8:30 so I have plenty of time.
    Jokes aside though, I am all too aware how far in over my head. That's why I made this thread. I'm not naive enough to think that a few hours of homework on the afternoon of a job will put me on par with an experienced professional photographer. I've never even wanted to follow a career in photography. Truth be told I only accepted the job a few days ago, and until this morning I was under the impression that it was a far more casual affair than it now appears to be, so I've decided to rise to the occasion instead of bailing out on a good opportunity due to lack of confidence. The way I see it, the worst thing that can happen is I don't meet their expectations and I don't get hired again, which seems an insignificant setback compared to what good things may come of this opportunity.
    In regards to vignetting, that is what I meant. I was asking if the vignetting was caused by the field of view being too wide for the flash, I guess I just worded it incorrectly. Do you care to elaborate on shutter drag technique and rear curtain synch? I'm not asking for you to explain them to me, but do you have any particular guides or sites in mind that I should check out?
    Thanks for your reply and insight though, it's appreciated.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BJH View Post
    Of course don't expect to learn all of this before 5PM tonight. The gig is at 8:30 so I have plenty of time.
    Jokes aside though, I am all too aware how far in over my head. That's why I made this thread. I'm not naive enough to think that a few hours of homework on the afternoon of a job will put me on par with an experienced professional photographer. I've never even wanted to follow a career in photography. Truth be told I only accepted the job a few days ago, and until this morning I was under the impression that it was a far more casual affair than it now appears to be, so I've decided to rise to the occasion instead of bailing out on a good opportunity due to lack of confidence. The way I see it, the worst thing that can happen is I don't meet their expectations and I don't get hired again, which seems an insignificant setback compared to what good things may come of this opportunity.
    In regards to vignetting, that is what I meant. I was asking if the vignetting was caused by the field of view being too wide for the flash, I guess I just worded it incorrectly. Do you care to elaborate on shutter drag technique and rear curtain synch? I'm not asking for you to explain them to me, but do you have any particular guides or sites in mind that I should check out?
    Thanks for your reply and insight though, it's appreciated.
    Very commendable... So now back to it...
    This bit:
    Quote Originally Posted by BJH View Post
    I was asking if the vignetting was caused by the field of view being too wide for the flash...
    Yes, as intimated above.

    And this bit:
    Quote Originally Posted by BJH View Post
    ...do you have any particular guides or sites in mind that I should check out?...
    is also referred to as "dragging the shutter", where you let ambient light help expose the picture.

    Here is one link to dragging the shutter

    Am.
    Last edited by ameerat42; 03-01-2015 at 3:14pm.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    If you have a 'job' taking photos, you are not a beginner as you selected on joining, therefore we have upgraded your experience level.
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

    Constructive Critique of my photographs is always appreciated
    Nikon, etc!

    RICK
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    Quote Originally Posted by ameerat42 View Post
    Very commendable... So now back to it...
    This bit:


    is also referred to as "dragging the shutter", where you let ambient light help expose the picture.

    Here is one link to dragging the shutter

    Am.
    I learned a lot from Neil Van Niekerk.
    I have a couple of his books and there are also 2 fairly long youtube videos he made for B&H. Highly recommended if you want to learn flash photography.

    As for this type of vignetting, you are right.
    Your flash can handle 24-105mm focal length and if you keep the flash zoom on auto it will try to sync the zoom with your lenses' focal length.
    If you shoot with a 10mm lens then you will absolutely get the middle of your frame exposed more than the edges.
    Because your lens is at 16mm and your flash is zoomed in at 24mm, or maybe even more if you played with the zoom settings.

    You can avoid this by bouncing your flash off a ceiling, a wall behind you or to the side of your subject.
    then your zoom will not matter anymore.
    For now, just keep your flash on ETTL at ALL times. Don't play with other modes, do not change the zoom.
    Until you learn what they do and especially when you are shooting an event for money.

    Dragging the shutter ...
    in your camera, the aperture controls the amount of flash light, while the shutter speed controls the ambient light.
    In ALL of your images you lack the ambient light.
    Your flash illuminates your subjects ok-ish, but the background is black.
    To let more ambient light IN.. you lower the shutter speed... that's what they mean by dragging the shutter.
    (You can also increase the ISO, btw...)
    The slower the shutter, the more ambient light you get into your image. You DO want that otherwise your images look like they are taken with a P&S camera.

    As for buying a new lens?..
    Learn to use the gear you have before you buy anything else.
    Don't worry about your lens. your trusty 18-55mm will do fine for events and flash photography.

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