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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old October 4th, 2009, 11:27 AM   #1
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Photographer's lights

First time I have ever experienced this with photographers. During the first dance, the assistant was blasting a HOT spot light from a flashlight device. Every 10-15 Seconds. Now, I'm not ignorant when it comes to lighting and I know that it makes for a cool photo with shadows and such, but the video looks like brightlight for a 5 seconds and low light for 5 seconds and there isn't really a way to fix that. Anyone encounter this in the past. Is this a new trend in wedding photography?
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Old October 4th, 2009, 11:55 AM   #2
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First time I have ever experienced this with photographers. During the first dance, the assistant was blasting a HOT spot light from a flashlight device. Every 10-15 Seconds. Now, I'm not ignorant when it comes to lighting and I know that it makes for a cool photo with shadows and such, but the video looks like brightlight for a 5 seconds and low light for 5 seconds and there isn't really a way to fix that. Anyone encounter this in the past. Is this a new trend in wedding photography?
No, it's the best argument for agreeing with the photographer beforehand who's going to do his shots first (we always let them) and then reminding the client who blew the ambiance of her evening.

We recently tried a new device - and got laughed at for our trouble by the photographer who could do nothing but blast his flash into the darkness. Our device? Three, 3w LED mini-maglites. The couple had paid for a choreographed dance so I had three "assistants" (men from the wedding party coerced for five minutes) follow them with the lights held high above their heads. Result, no effect on the ambiance and great pictures with which the couple are ecstatic.

The more I do in this business the more I am convinced that photography is very definitely 19th century - they really haven't moved far from the bar filled with flash powder.
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Old October 4th, 2009, 12:04 PM   #3
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The more I do in this business the more I am convinced that photography is very definitely 19th century - they really haven't moved far from the bar filled with flash powder.
Just had a funny thought - Do photographers strive for the flash powder look with current cameras? Maybe there are some Photoshop plug-ins that can apply the "flash powder" look so you don't actually have to stink up the reception with flash powder to get the "look".
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Old October 4th, 2009, 12:34 PM   #4
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I haven't seen any, but there are presets for Daguerreotype photographs.
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Old October 4th, 2009, 01:48 PM   #5
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I have seen it used quite often here. Can immediately think of three togs who use a video light on the subject for creative effect. Two of them only used it during the photoshoot. one started messing around with it during the ceremony. It ended up like a Disco. This light was dancing all over the place and REALLY distracting everyone. The officiant gave me a dirty look and I just pointed upwards at the tog who was in the balcony fiddling with the light. He charges about 4k (not sure if thats because he throws in the free disco?).



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Old October 4th, 2009, 04:04 PM   #6
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I have a BIG flashlight-I think it could be about 10 million candlepower. Seriously the damn thing weighs a ton but man it will light up my whole block.
Anyway I've been thinking about mounting it to my camera as an on camera light for those really dark ceremonies and receptions.
Think anyone would mind? (especially the photog?) ;-)
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Old October 4th, 2009, 06:07 PM   #7
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Is that with the trailer mounted generator parked outside the church door, with the diesel exhaust aimed inside for added smoke ambience?

I know of one tog who could never use ambient light (even outside) and would have two assistants with portable flash heads (a bit like the ones I use in the studio with a bowl reflector) on poles and light EVERYTHING with those. The piccies were nice, but by golly it was annoying... in the church, outside as well as at the reception and dance..

On the plus side, the 'after images' whenever I blinked from the flash were pretty cool. The downside is the vision looked crap.. even from the 'handycam users' point of view.

Then there are the really nice photographers who go out of their way to make sure they don't ruin your shot, use gentle flash, and are really nice to work with.

Perhaps we could start a thread naming 'video friendly' photographers... ok, just a thought.. ;)

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Old October 4th, 2009, 06:54 PM   #8
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Is that with the trailer mounted generator parked outside the church door, with the diesel exhaust aimed inside for added smoke ambience?
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Oh wow, you must have seen it. :-)

Actually, it's a NiCad battery with a lens that's about 8 inches. My son in law gave it to me about 5 years ago for Xmas as a gag gift but it is one serious flashlight. I really have to be careful using it as you can really hurt someones eyes with it. It really will light up my block. I live on a circle and last year the power went out due to a storm and I lit up the circle (cul-de-sac) for about an hour until the battery went dead but believe it or not I have a car charger for it. Ha, there is no night too dark! :-0
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Old October 5th, 2009, 12:56 AM   #9
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Hey Ian, perhaps you got one of our photographers from the Bay Area exported to your wedding, because I've worked with a guy who does just that. Thankfully, he's the only one I know of, although be on the lookout for photographer's throwing a Litepanels LED light on their cameras for continuous lighting. They will no-doubt be shooting their light into your lens, but not providing enough backlight/hairlight on your subject to make them useful.
The only thing I can say is to try and talk with the photographer in advance and let him know that you're both there to get good images without interfering with each other's work. His light is a sure-fire way to muck up your video, and they might not realize it because no-one has told them before. Most of the photographer's I work with are very nice and play well with others. The divas/divos...well, I try not to work with them.
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Old October 5th, 2009, 08:44 PM   #10
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I know of one tog who could never use ambient light (even outside) and would have two assistants with portable flash heads (a bit like the ones I use in the studio with a bowl reflector) on poles and light EVERYTHING with those. The piccies were nice, but by golly it was annoying... in the church, outside as well as at the reception and dance..

Ben
I can't blame a photographer for wanting to get good light on their subjects.

Imho, most of the time ambient light is not flattering to the human face for images. Often when you are outside and the sun is blasting down.

I am one of those photographers who bring studio strobes to to shoot wedding formals. I feel it is duty to provide the best images for the customer and studio lighting is that method.

A photographer at a recent wedding I was shooting video at used a little blast light during the first dance. To be honest, I don't know how much it would help because if he was shooting at a low ISO like 100 or 200, it would take a lot of light to impact the shot.

It may be to close down the pupils for red-eye reduction.

But this is no different than us video people using a light (which I do) in dark rooms.

My issue is with the planner people who have it in their head that candle light levels is how the entire event should be lit.

If they could raise the light level the lighting instruments would not seem so extreme.
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Old October 5th, 2009, 09:22 PM   #11
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Was the photog using a flashgun in addition? Is it possible that it's a janky way to actually use autofocus in an otherwise dark room (in this way acting like a modeling light for a studio strobe)?

Geez, i'm struggling for explanations because, well, flashguns are great, so are remote triggers, and so are Voice Activated Light Stands (ie, assistants)...I'm really at a loss to get why a continuous source would be better than flash in a weddding scenario, what with the myriad light-shapers you can get with flashes these days.

Seems pretty crazy to me! :-p
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Old October 6th, 2009, 12:03 AM   #12
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(snipped)
I am one of those photographers who bring studio strobes to to shoot wedding formals. I feel it is duty to provide the best images for the customer and studio lighting is that method.

(snipped)

My issue is with the planner people who have it in their head that candle light levels is how the entire event should be lit.
This is good news for it is I honest believe and hope, the business will go in the end - video for the event, photography for the formals and the the portraits. We had a photographer using flash boxes for the formals this Summer and the results were terrific.

Photographers, even some video people, seem to think that video needs high light levels. In fact they don't - PAGlights, the industry standard in the UK, have only ever been 10W and 20W options AFAIK. That's more than enough to do the job for which they were intended, head and shoulder ENG shots. Earlier I've described how 3w maglites saw us through a dimly lit first dance with no effect on the live audience.

Frankly I'm in complete sympathy with the planners and clients who want to do their first dance in almost darkness, it's moody and romantic - don't you recall dancing in the dark when you were young and in love? I am firmly of the opinion that any supplier who can't work, devise a way to work, without destroying, indeed capturing, the natural ambiance of the event should maybe get another job - perhaps the municipal street lighting department. My advice to youngsters bewitched by the flashgun and hand basher salesmen would be to get out more. Watch some great moody movies, look at famous portraits done with just a single light, and experiment.
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Old October 6th, 2009, 01:09 AM   #13
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You're right that we really don't need a lot of light, but we've filmed some absolute CAVES!

My wife and I were talking about taking the approach of asking for permission from the site coordinator to manage the lights for the Reception, then setting them to the edge of graininess and finally putting a large sticky on the switch to encourage people not to mess with the lights. That's pry a bit extreme, but we're just tired of bad lighting dampening the video. It's not that I lack power with my LEDs; it just tends to look like a hunting expedition on the DVD.

At a recent first dance, the coordinator dimmed the lights. A spotlight was on the couple, so he then decided to kill the lights altogether. Seeing that they nearly disappeared, he brought them back up about 30 seconds later. THEN he brought them fully up -- all within the most important dance of the night!!!
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Old October 6th, 2009, 02:06 AM   #14
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I am firmly of the opinion that any supplier who can't work, devise a way to work, without destroying, indeed capturing, the natural ambiance of the event should maybe get another job - perhaps the municipal street lighting department. My advice to youngsters bewitched by the flashgun and hand basher salesmen would be to get out more. Watch some great moody movies, look at famous portraits done with just a single light, and experiment.
Wish I'd said that.

When I first picked up a stills camera I was taught to think about the light. When I first tried flash, I was shocked at the stark results.. until I learnt how to use it properly, to emulate natural light. "Painting with Light" was what my mentor taught me.

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Old October 6th, 2009, 08:18 AM   #15
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Photographers, even some video people, seem to think that video needs high light levels. In fact they don't - PAGlights, the industry standard in the UK, have only ever been 10W and 20W options AFAIK. That's more than enough to do the job for which they were intended, head and shoulder ENG shots. Earlier I've described how 3w maglites saw us through a dimly lit first dance with no effect on the live audience.
I think this is kind of a generalized statement.

People want stuff that looks good. Period.

And a lot of people hire professionals to get stuff that looks great. That is why they hired them.

In my view, I do not like dim, grainy, gained up, available light images. Still or video.

If one uses any of the small HD cameras, even an EX-1, these are not low-light demons. They are slower than their SD predecessors.

I shot a wedding a little while ago with my HMC-150 and for the toasts I was full wide along with my video light (can't remember if the bulb was 50 or 100w) and I was still struggling to get good skin exposure.

Without the light it would have looked horrible, amateurish in my opinion.

So it may sound convenient to say who needs light, but I feel it is the professionals job to do whatever it takes to get great images.


The problem with lowering the room light level to candle level is any light added is a shock. Light shaping does not help one when there are 30' ceilings and the people are in cave conditions. You gotta throw some light on them.
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