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


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Old November 15th, 2014, 12:13 AM   #1
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Lighting the Reception

Hello!


I wanted to start a discussion on what everyone does as far as lighting at a reception.

I typically have a dim-able LED light on my rig and shoot it directly or pop it up at the ceiling. I pair this with using the DJ lighting or setting up another LED on a stand for back light.

This normally gets the job done and can be done without cranking the lights too much to be a distraction.

My last few weddings though have been pitch black!

I hate having to crank my lights full blast, but it was either that or cranking my ISO past 6400.

What do you do for lighting?
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Old November 15th, 2014, 04:54 AM   #2
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Re: Lighting the Reception

I use two LED's, 312 & 600 LED. I'd light the couple & speeches with one each on 3m high stands so it's not eye level. In a worst case scenario I drop my shutter to 1/25 push ISO to 8000 on my C100 for static shots. The best way to light for dark reception is to have a camera that excels in low light, like the 5DIII, A7S, C100. Personally I do not like the flat/spotlight look of on camera light, I usually put my lights at an angle to my camera which adds some dimension. If the reception is pitch black then you need to speak to an organiser to sort out the lighting situation, most guests don't like a pitch black hall either.
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Old November 15th, 2014, 07:42 AM   #3
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Re: Lighting the Reception

We don't use it, but off camera light to fill the space, like the dance floor, is my preferred way. We've got two wide, dimmable lights with stands, and then two narrow lights, also on stands or attached to the DJ's stuff, like this:
Amazon.com : Rogue ROGUEGRID 3-In-1 Stacking Honeycomb Grid System with Pouch for all Shoe-Mount Flashes with Flash Units from Canon, Nikon, Sony, Metz, Nissin, Pentax, Olympus and Others : Photographic Lighting : Camera & Photo,

That gives us four corners of coverage, two of which make great hair lights, and a lot of soft fill, but isn't too bright.

Last edited by Robert Benda; November 15th, 2014 at 10:28 AM.
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Old November 15th, 2014, 09:01 AM   #4
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Re: Lighting the Reception

Echo and ditto. I use the comer 1800s on light stands.
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Old November 15th, 2014, 04:13 PM   #5
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Re: Lighting the Reception

What camera are you using? My first HD camera was terrible in low-light, so I had to roll with on-camera and the occasional Omni light for the toasts. Thankfully, that issue was gone with the Sony FS100. Now I'll resort to a Prolight or Dedo (both are dimmable). I might be tempted to try out my newest addition, a remote-dimming 600 LED from Aputure touted as 95+ CRI. The throw on the LED's isn't ideal. The Comer might be your best bet on a budget.
Not sure why you're bouncing your light though. Talk about ruining the ambience of the room....and wasting precious photons. You might be adding to the base light level, but you're not making friends with the venue, DJ or coordinators. Don't be afraid to backlight or sidelight for effect and artistry.
I also suggest keeping a battery powered LED (even a 312 unit) on a small light stand that you (or an assistant) can position during the toasts. Especially important when the talent isn't standing in the right spot. This is usually under your control though. Tell the DJ where you want to position them based on your lighting. Don't let them stand where they want and hope for the best.
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Old November 15th, 2014, 05:08 PM   #6
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Re: Lighting the Reception

Oren, personally I haven't used our lights yet, but am ready if I run into a bad situation. My arrangement would be designed to softly light a space, like the dance floor, enough that I'm not screwed, but not enough to radically change the ambiance, like an on-camera light would do.

My master at the reception is a 5d Mark ii, which does nicely, but I fear for the day its so dark that all 3 cameras are pushed to ISO 6400 during the speeches or 1st dance.
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Old November 15th, 2014, 10:51 PM   #7
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Re: Lighting the Reception

My setup is a few Switronix Torch Bolt bi-color LED lights on light stands. Usually three, but at the moment just two, because I left one at a bride's house dammit.

I don't like using hot lights, like dedos or Arri fresnels.

LED colours aren't perfect, but are good enough.

Rectangular shape of my lights I find a bit annoying; much better to have a circular source. But I don't think there are any cheap ones.

Definitely recommend dimmable (like any Hong Kong eBay LED) over non-dimmable (like rotolight).
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Old November 15th, 2014, 11:01 PM   #8
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Re: Lighting the Reception

Short of a 12' scrim, you're not really getting soft light with small instruments. Besides, I wouldn't try to re-light an entire room without a grip truck. Better to focus on spot instruments (Dedo, ProLight, Fresnel lights), pick an area for your action, and light it up with a key light (and possibly back light or rim light to separate them from dark backgrounds. Think 'pool of light', not 'wall of light'. Your camera is sensitive enough, especially if you are using prime lenses. Remember, that when you don't have lots of motion, you can drop your shutter speed and give yourself a bit more light to work with.
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Old November 16th, 2014, 08:09 AM   #9
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Re: Lighting the Reception

Thanks for all the input. I am going to take all the comments into consideration.

Also I am rocking a Sony a99 so its no slouch in low light, but its all not the a7s haha.
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Old November 17th, 2014, 06:47 AM   #10
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Re: Lighting the Reception

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Harper View Post
Personally I do not like the flat/spotlight look of on camera light, I usually put my lights at an angle to my camera which adds some dimension. .
What kind of angle do you mean. Like pointed upwards?

I put something in my paperwork advising them not to have their reception lighting too low as it can affect video quality. I use a small video light as well but I hate having to have it so bright just to get any detail at all. Might try the second video light on a stand suggestion as well as I normally dont do much with lighting beyond having one on my rig.
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Old November 19th, 2014, 09:05 PM   #11
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Re: Lighting the Reception

Not pointed upwards, rather a horizontal angle to the camera so not directly on the camera's axis but off to one side to provide some modelling rather than a flat mugshot look.
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Old November 20th, 2014, 02:05 AM   #12
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Re: Lighting the Reception

I know it's not as simple as just going and buying a new camera for most people, but seriously...


B&Gs plan every detail of their day. I'm pretty sure if they had the choice, their reception room plan would not involve lighting rigs like a tv set. It's so unnatural and perhaps off-putting for people.

Just save up, do what it takes. Buy an A7S. Your bride's will thank you for it.

I've been light free for 6 months. (Before that they only got used for dancefloor stuff on occasions). The guests are also a lot more comfortable venturing to the dancefloor when there aren't bright lights cast on it.

I'm sure other cameras will start to compete with Sony's low light performance soon enough.
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Old November 20th, 2014, 02:33 AM   #13
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Re: Lighting the Reception

Quote:
Just save up, do what it takes. Buy an A7S.
I have been thinking about that too, but it would be a over 3K investment incl lens and that would only be for maybe 10% of the weddings I do every year and only for the first dance. All the rest of the evening I can cope with my gh3/4 with f1.8/f2.0 lenses at iso 3200/6400.

That's a lot of money for 30 seconds worth of footage in my 20 minute highlights. Now I just place a lightstand with a ledgo160 light and point it towards the dj so I don't blind any guests and have some fill light on the side where otherwise no light was and that deals with the pitch black parts of the day I run across from time to time.
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Old November 20th, 2014, 12:53 PM   #14
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Re: Lighting the Reception

I use 2 TorchLEDs on 9' light stands when the situation warrants. I bought them almost a year ago or so and this was before my second shooter bought a Sony a7s, and then I found my third shooter who uses a FS100. I also have 3 Sony 20W on camera lights as well, but rarely use those any more.

So now, my need for lighting has really diminished. They do come in useful for outdoor exits in the evenings though. Usually it's pitch black and no light in some cases. Those 2 do a great job providing some ambient light.
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Old January 25th, 2015, 11:48 PM   #15
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Re: Lighting the Reception

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adrian Tan View Post
My setup is a few Switronix Torch Bolt bi-color LED lights on light stands. Usually three, but at the moment just two, because I left one at a bride's house dammit.

I don't like using hot lights, like dedos or Arri fresnels.

LED colours aren't perfect, but are good enough.

Rectangular shape of my lights I find a bit annoying; much better to have a circular source. But I don't think there are any cheap ones.

Definitely recommend dimmable (like any Hong Kong eBay LED) over non-dimmable (like rotolight).
Adrian, I was looking back at threads on lighting for receptions and I noticed that you're using the Switronix LEDs during receptions. I was looking at these lights earlier today so I wanted to find out what your general opinion of these lights has been? Where do you typically place them? Do you add diffusion to them? How long do the batteries last?

Right now I have 2 of these lights:

Variable Color Temp 600 LED Video Light Panel CN600CSA

I have not yet used them at weddings but they've done well for the corporate shoots that I've used them on. My concern is that they're not small (I think they're close to 1x1) and I don't want to draw a ton of attention to them. The Switronix look like they produce quite a bit of light in a much smaller package (while also offering a remote control option) but I'm concerned that because they're so compact it might be difficult to get a flood light effect from them.

Anyways, I'd be interested to get your opinion on the Switronix as well as whether you think the ephoto lights that I have would be any better/worse/different.

Thanks!
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