Last night I had a corporate function to photograph including 100 couple shots as they came through the door, plus group shots, presentations and atmosphere shots. I'm pleased to say the whole night went flawlessly and all the gear I used proved bulletproof.
Below is a setup shot (taken on my phone, sorry about the quality). At the back is a black 3x6m backdrop on backdrop stands, at the front a pair of stands with metal brackets and a 43" shoot-through umbrella on each. The backdrop was far too long so I folded about 750mm back under then ran yellow gaffer tape around the whole lot to remove the tripping hazard. I also put a tape 'triangle' around the bottom of the stands to provide a visual barrier, and as the room had low during the function tied a safety vest to each one a so they were a bit easier to see. You can also see a black bag on each of the backdrop and sands, this is a sandbag (available from camping stores) to weight the stands and add further stability. Sand is messy so I put a large piece of firewood in each. The function had a masquerade theme, hence the mask hanging from the backdrop (at the request of the organiser).
The gear used for the photographs was my trusty D700 (+ grip) and Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8. An SB-900 strobe was used each side, with the diffuser fitted, and were fired using Paul C. Buff CyberSync triggers.
In the interests of minimising the visual impact of the setup I tried a couple of shots (using the band as subjects) without the umbrellas, but this resulted in overly harsh lighting and big shadows. I confirmed with the organiser that the umbrellas were ok to use and fitted them, the results were substantially better.
EDIT: I also left the diffusers on the strobes. The master, Joe McNally, says this helps improve the quality so I took his word for it!
Camera settings used for the whole night were:
Strobes - 24mm zoom, 1/8 -1/3 power
My initial was f/5.6, but the first couple of shots were a touch dark. There was no time to pull the stands down, increase the flash power by 1/3- and put them back up, so I just opened the up a bit.
An of f/4 would offer a nice , but I was after focus accuracy turning that many people through, not to mention needing sufficient for group shots. I would have liked to have used f/6.3, but this would have meant increasing the flash power, I didn't want to chew through the batteries too quick, or sacrifice recycle time. This is also the reason for the high , but grain isn't a problem on the D700 at this setting so I was happy to use it.
There is quite a lot to read there, but I hope it helps someone. Any questions? Post them up below.
Portrait, no umbrellas.
Portrait, shoot-through umbrellas.
Obviously I cannot post pictures of people at the function, but these guys were happy for me to post them on the 'net.