Shooting a birthday event - What camera settings please?


ElRazur

Link Posted 07/03/2011 - 09:48
Hello people. Due to cold weather and work commitment, I haven't used my camera for a good number of months now, and handling my Kx just kinda feels weird today - should be expected I guess.

A family member has asked me to help cover a birthday event, however I am not so sure what to do from here on. I don't want to shoot in full auto only, I want to do something a bit challenging, but not so challenging that the result turns out horrible.

I currently have a Pentax Kx, 18-55mm, 50-200mm,SMC Fa 80-320 and a flash gun AF360FGZ.

I think it will be safe to assume that for this event, I'm better off using a 18-55 lens and to keep the 50-200 for back up just in-case I may have a need for it? With that covered, what mode -apart from auto - should I be looking to shot the event please? Will I have a need for the flashgun?

PS
I am taking a few test short right after this and going through the manual just to brush up on what I may have read before. Thanks.

Tyr

Link Posted 07/03/2011 - 10:10
Indoors with auto flash I'd normally shoot in aperture priority (Av) or manual (M). Your kit should be good for that the only down side is the 360 lacks a portrait orientation swivel (something I really wish Pentax would address).

K-x with 18-55 and AF360FGZ pointed up* to bounce off the celling and provide a nice soft light. Extend the white card if you want catch lights in people's eyes.

*Depending on the shooting distance you may not want it pointed straight up you may want to vary the angle so the light is bouncing at your subject not straight back down onto you. Imagine the celling as a mirror, the flash as a torch and you are trying to bounce the light to your subject. Oh and this only really works with lowish ceilings painted white or a light warm colour.

For portraits you can get into a corner and bounce the flash off the wall (again white or light warm colour like magnolia).

http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/04/lighting-101-headshot-in-corner.html

The article mentions light ratios, this is the difference between your flash power and the power of the ambient light. In Av mode the camera will automatically calculate this and will give you shutter speeds to match the ambient light. This may cause blur even in flash shots as the camera will try and balance the light, if light levels are low it will increase exposure time and risk blur while improving the light in the photo. Just keep en eye on it and boost the ISO when required. Flash isn't about blasting and overpowering the light, it works best when used with existing light.

Hope that covers the basics. I'll keep an eye out for any more questions.
Regards,
Dan

https://www.flickr.com/photos/honourabletyr/

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johnriley

Link Posted 07/03/2011 - 10:36
What people expect from this is a set of nice pictures of the people who were there. If it's at a venue, wander around the tables and pose little groups as you can. Simple on-camera flash will be effective if a little boring to photographers. The target audience are not photographers.

After you've got the basic shots done then you can play with special effects. Fast lenses hand held on the dance floor will get lots of coloured light and swirling dancers - no flash for these as it will kill the atmosphere.

Practice first as much as you can to make sure that you can take a good well exposed standard shot without messing about on the night - the mood soon dissipates if the photographer has to fiddle with his or her camera!
Best regards, John

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gartmore

Link Posted 07/03/2011 - 12:12
As John says but I'd stick to the 18-55 and the 360 flash; if the ceiling is low and bright enough then use bounce with the catchlight panel, leave the camera on 'P' and all will be well. P-TTL does a very good job of mixing ambient light with the flash in these situations.
Ken
“We must avoid however, snapping away, shooting quickly and without thought, overloading ourselves with unnecessary images that clutter our memory and diminish the clarity of the whole.” - Henri Cartier-Bresson -

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ElRazur

Link Posted 07/03/2011 - 13:56
You guys are awesome. Thank you so much. I have been playing with the camera and giving myself a crash-course, it appears some of the techniques are starting to come back to me now. lol.

I have taken on board what you have all contributed so far. I think the [P] Programme mode and Aperture priority [Av] will both be used as it gives me a degree of control in ensuring a bit of creativity on the shots.

During the various test shot I've done so far, the Av appears to allow me to play with depth of field better - but this is just my observation and not a statement of fact.


As per the Flash gun I suppose there isn't much to worry about in terms of settings right? The following are what comes up and I have been using so far.

35mm P-TTL A-zoom (Automatic zoom??)and digital display in mm of how the lens is adjusted in focal length I believe.

Finally, the Synchronization mode switch is set on two "Zig-zag" arrow!

Is this the right settings for the flash please? I am going through the manual but it is probably not the most informative on the flash. lol. Thanks.

gartmore

Link Posted 07/03/2011 - 14:25
You'd be best to have the sync switch fully to the left, the green position. Dont worry about focal length the camera and flash will talk to each other and look after that. If you use bounce they'll look after that too. Just take some test shots when you get there and raise the ISO if you have to. Don't use 'auto ISO' 200 or 400 will probably be fine, do take spare batteries.

Remember the 360 defaults to 35mm film mode and shows the focal length in those terms until you half press the shutter and then it goes into APs-C mode.
Ken
“We must avoid however, snapping away, shooting quickly and without thought, overloading ourselves with unnecessary images that clutter our memory and diminish the clarity of the whole.” - Henri Cartier-Bresson -

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ElRazur

Link Posted 07/03/2011 - 14:54
Thanks man. I appreciate.

Will do as advised - take test shot at venue etc.

As per White Balance, I usually just see the type of lighting been used on the inside and set accordingly or will I be better off using "Flash" as setting to WB?
Last Edited by ElRazur on 07/03/2011 - 14:56

Tyr

Link Posted 07/03/2011 - 14:55
gartmore wrote:
Don't use 'auto ISO' 200 or 400 will probably be fine, do take spare batteries.

Depending on the lighting I'd probably shoot from ISO 400-1600 if it was indoors in the evening and at night otherwise the flash is likely to overpower the ambient a bit too much.

I've not been to many places lit up brightly enough to be shooting at ISO 200-400 indoors.

ElRazur wrote:
I think the [P] Programme mode and Aperture priority [Av] will both be used as it gives me a degree of control in ensuring a bit of creativity on the shots.

During the various test shot I've done so far, the Av appears to allow me to play with depth of field better - but this is just my observation and not a statement of fact.

P move allows you to change from Tv to Av quickly on dual dial cameras. I'm not sure how it works on the single dial K-x so I'd say stick to Av for DoF control and let the camera choose the shutter speed and flash power.
Regards,
Dan

https://www.flickr.com/photos/honourabletyr/

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Tyr

Link Posted 07/03/2011 - 15:02
ElRazur wrote:
Thanks man. I appreciate.

Will do as adsive - take test shot at venue etc.

As per White Balance, I usually just see the type of lighting been used on the inside and set accordingly or will I be better off using "Flash" as setting to WB?

While balance with flash is a tough one.

Personally I have a set of correcting gels and a strap to attach them:

Colour Correction Gels

Sample Pack

Strap

Very handy to have and take up no space really.

Otherwise I'd just use flash WB and leave the rest of the room orange/green depending on the lighting.
Regards,
Dan

https://www.flickr.com/photos/honourabletyr/

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gartmore

Link Posted 07/03/2011 - 15:37
ElRazur wrote:
Thanks man. I appreciate.

Will do as advised - take test shot at venue etc.

As per White Balance, I usually just see the type of lighting been used on the inside and set accordingly or will I be better off using "Flash" as setting to WB?

I'm sure that the camera will take care of that.
Ken
“We must avoid however, snapping away, shooting quickly and without thought, overloading ourselves with unnecessary images that clutter our memory and diminish the clarity of the whole.” - Henri Cartier-Bresson -

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gartmore

Link Posted 07/03/2011 - 15:39
Tyr wrote:
ElRazur wrote:
Thanks man. I appreciate.

Will do as adsive - take test shot at venue etc.

As per White Balance, I usually just see the type of lighting been used on the inside and set accordingly or will I be better off using "Flash" as setting to WB?

While balance with flash is a tough one.

Personally I have a set of correcting gels and a strap to attach them:

Colour Correction Gels

Sample Pack

Strap

Very handy to have and take up no space really.

Otherwise I'd just use flash WB and leave the rest of the room orange/green depending on the lighting.

Tyr, re-read the first post, I'm sure the OP is looking for a simple and pragmatic solution with the equipment he already has and is a little unsure of its operation. You are, of course, technically correct but I dont think its worth complicating things further.
Ken
“We must avoid however, snapping away, shooting quickly and without thought, overloading ourselves with unnecessary images that clutter our memory and diminish the clarity of the whole.” - Henri Cartier-Bresson -

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Tyr

Link Posted 07/03/2011 - 15:46


I did say that given the equipment I'd just use flash WB and leave the rest of the room to its particular colouration.

Gels are not expensive though, could even just get some sweet wrappers that are the right colour

Then again that would probably go down as well as my home made diffuser. People kept asking if I'd forgotten to remove the packaging.

link
Regards,
Dan

https://www.flickr.com/photos/honourabletyr/
Last Edited by Tyr on 07/03/2011 - 15:49

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ElRazur

Link Posted 07/03/2011 - 16:11
Thank you guys. You post and advises has been a tremendous helo in fast-tracking me to grasping the basics again.

Based on the various advice give so far I have opted I now have a rough plan as follows:

Shoot in Av mode (shifting between Manual and Auto focus when necessary) and to do a few shots in Program mode as well.

Flash will be used with a white plastic diffuser I bought off amazon.

White balance set to "Flash"

Carry back up batteries for both flash gun and camera.

Use 18-55mm lens and probably keep the 50-200mm in the backpack just in case there is a need for it.

Use bounce technique.

Shoot at ISO from 400/600 (depending on the light conditions)



Read up on a few tips, dress smart and try to not look like a novice when taking photos lol.

Is there anything I may have left behind?

Blythman

Link Posted 07/03/2011 - 16:18
Yeah, explore the possibility of using ambient light only utilising the high ISO capabilities of the K-x.

Do the "business" shots first with the flash, so you know you've delivered what is expected
Alan


PPG
Flickr
Last Edited by Blythman on 07/03/2011 - 16:18

Anvh

Link Posted 07/03/2011 - 16:29
Instead of AV you might want to consider M mode, it sounds like a big step but it's not since you've a flash that takes care of the exposure.

The reason for this is that with the shutterspeed you can control the balance between flash light and ambient light better. If you see the flash makes the photo's flat you just use longer shutter speed... or in Av mode you use an lower ISO setting, that's also an option if that change the shutterspeed.

Just experiment what you like better.


I don't know how you like to learn things, although these guys are enthusiastic they are sometimes hard to follow but it might help. On strobist.com there is also a great 101 guide but that one is a bit more complicated.
http://lightenupandshoot.net/flash-photography-101
Stefan


K10D, K5
DA* 16-50, DA* 50-135, D-FA 100 Macro, DA 40 Ltd, DA 18-55
AF-540FGZ
Last Edited by Anvh on 07/03/2011 - 16:39

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