Club shooting with a flash

After sorting through the Neurodance 09 photos, I got reminded of some things I wanted to make note of.

Shooting with a flash in clubs. The kind of shots I am usually after are emotional, expressional and conveying some feeling. Hence most of the shots are headshots or 3/4 shots. Timing the shots I found to be very tricky, in order to get the camera and flash to go off at exactly the right moment to capture that emotion.

Let me explain: The club is dark. Autofocusing by ambient light is not very reliable (at least on my camera) so I need to use the AF assist light that the external flash provides. This is a red light pattern that gets projected by the flash, to help the cameras focusing sensor to focus more easily.

Using the AF assist light, the shots are in perfect focus. Everytime. The trouble is that it takes the camera a second or two to focus by this red light. So from the moment I push the shutter button to when the image is taken there is a substantial delay (for a DSLR, one or two seconds is HUGE, considering the regular delay is 100-200ms).

One technique I’ve started doing a bit of is to try to anticipate when the great moment will come, and push the shutter button that much earlier, but this is very hit and miss, and don’t like relying on it.

The other idea, which I will try next time will be to bring a laser pointer (that has those fancy patterns), and use it to light the subject continuously, in hopes that since it’s brighter the focusing will take place quicker.

And yet another idea I’ve been suggested (and will try next time I’m out) is to use a smaller aperture like f5.6 of f8.0. When shooting at f1.4 to f2.0, the DoF (area in focus) is only a few inches deep. By decreasing the aperture size, the DoF will be larger, and if the focus determined by the camera is off, it won’t make that much of a difference.

I will update this post with details as I discover them.

This entry was posted in Technique.

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