Day2 was a fantastic success. What a learning experience. The equipment is working great even though some of it has malfunctioned several times.
Some thoughts of the past 2 days:
The second day I brought a flash with me into Club Metropolis. I intended to bring it the first day also, but forgot the PC sync cable required to trigger the wireless flash trigger. Hacked one together in the morning of day two, and I was ready by late afternoon, I was ready.
Only one thing kept coming to mind as I was shooting with a flash.
You gotta add light to get clean (noise free), sharp and interesting pictures in such dark environments as concert venues. No two way about it, to the limit of what flash photography the venue allows. I would still use a flash even if ISO3200 looked like ISO400. Th control you have and the consistency of lighting is unmatched in an environment where the light is never the same for more then 1 second.
I am of course talking about creative use of “off camera flash”. Placed a flash on top a set of speakers on stage left, and left it there. It was set to 1/8 power which proved to be sufficient. Now regardless where I was along the stage, i had a nice dramatic side lighting illuminating the artist. Now the challenge I discovered I need to solve was that of adjusting light intensity as the artist moved closer and further away from the strobe. This was easily fixed by adjusting the ISO if the camera. It varied quite a bit between iso100 when the artist was beside the flash, and iso400-800 when they were at the other extreme end of the stage. Other camera settings were set to full manual. F2.0, and 1/100 shutter speed. Because of the current hacked setup, I can only get 1/100 sync speed. This needs to get fixed as 1/200 would have been ideal to remove camera shake with a 135mm lens.
So all I needed to do was take note where the artist was and adjust iso from shot to shot. Not to hard to do with the camera to my eye, just need more practice, and much easier to do then what I used to do which was adjust both iso to match the perceived amount of ambient light hitting the artist.
With the flash set to 1/8 power I could even get 3fps out of it and shoot bursts from the camera even up to the end of the night after maybe 500 shots/flashes.
The stage size is about the size of the stage at the Phoenix in toronto (just for reference).
I can’t tell you how happy I was with the images I got. Going from most (if not all) shots being iso1600- iso3200 to most (if not all) shots being iso200-400. Some were even iso100, while were iso800, which in terms of image quality an noise is a huge jump. It would be nice to be able to dial in the flash power remotely, but it’s not necessary.
The other thing I had to consider (more from a creative point of view) is how much ambient light to let in to balance the flash light. At 1/100 shutter speed at iso200 or iso400, there’s not much ambient light getting to the sensor. I found I needed to bring the shutter in the 1/10 to 1/30 to let enough light in to balance out the flash when I needed/wanted the wonderful colors of the background lights.
One other thing of note is the shooting of the dancers. Flash on the floor, set to 1/16 or 1/32 power. Camera iso is around 200-400.
Part of the success I am having I believe is because of the AF assist light that i built. It provides me the ability to focus in total darkness (much less light then any camera’s AF sensor can work in) but the big benefit for me is that it works while the camera is in AI Servo mode which means the subject is always (in reality most of the time, due to illuminated area not matching the AF points very well) in focus when I push the shutter button, and the flash illuminates the subject.
See continuation of day 3, 4 and 5 for more.