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Mixed lighting at events – color balance and strobe

oneilmaineoneilmaine Member
edited December 2015 in flash & lighting
I'm writing to ask, with using fill flash how much available light do you allow to spillover onto your subjects. I photograph a lot of events and the majority of the spaces have mixed color lighting –– in many rooms I can have up to 3 different types mixing on a subject; florescent canister tubes, tungsten chandelier bulbs, natural window light and/or LED up lights. In many cases they are all pretty equal in intensity…Add in a flash (with/out a gel) and the scene turns into a very challenging situation to correctly color balance. I try not to blast my subjects with flash because I want the scene to look natural. Most of the time I’m shooting between 1/40 - 1/60 at f.5.6, 1600 ASA. This allows a lot of the un/natural light to have a large influence on the image…In post processing it’s really hard to manage, even while shooting RAW –– there’s a lot of color crossover. Would it be better to over power the ambient light with the strobe? Advice is appreciated and welcome.

In the shadows, you'll see the spillover of the blue LED which was more that 15 feet away –– photographed purple.


  • Sounds like the exact same situation I'm up against next month at the Hilton for the Christmas party. I've done it before many years now.
    Are you using bounce flash primarily? It is always the shadow areas that have the most reflected light (color) for the surroundings. So, clearly you need a more neutral illumination for that. You're flash is good color anywhere else on the subject.
    Best bet in my opinion would be to make sure you're filling those shadows with the same light (flash) by using a flash bender when bouncing it. The bounce is the directional light, while the flash bender helps to fill in the shadow areas. I wouldn't worry about the mixed light too much because the real key light is from your flash on  your subjects. Let the background light-color fall where it will. I'm going to bring along a small softbox also for some portraits...the up close ones like your example here. That will put light into the chin and eyes socket shadows better than any CEILING bounced flash will do.
  • Hey, Oneilmaine - that photo is pretty nice, given all the difficulty you say you had. Was this direct flash? Any modifier or gel? I'm interested ....

  • oneilmaineoneilmaine Member
    edited December 2015
    Hi, Thanks for the reassurance. :-)

    Maybe my POV is to close. I tried bouncing everywhere and needed more direct flash to get proper skin tone, so I settled on the Gary Fong modifier –– since visiting Neil's sight, it gets less and less usage. I gelled for tungsten lighting (the majority of the bulbs in the rooms) and worked in Photoshop to get to a decent skin tone. The tungsten setting made the blue LED uplights purple.

    Patindaytona, it was my first holiday party of the season. So much work in Photoshop. 

    Thanks again!

  • Hi, PatinDaytona - what small softbox do you use? Is it "on-camera", and have you used it before with decent results? I have an 8-inch Fotodiox octagon, which I tried for the first time at an event a couple of weeks ago. Didn't like it. I know there are times when I will have no choice, but that would not make me so happy.

  • I just bought the 24 x 24 inch softbox. All are good. I didn't pay much at all..check Ebay.I have a small one too like yours that is still good for if you want to put it on the camera for direct FILL flash outdoors...better than bare anyway. The small one though wouldn't do much good for a off camera directional like..it's pretty harsh light because not much difference in size with the bare bulb for that.
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