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As an adjunct to the Tangents blog, the intention with this forum is to answer any questions, and allow a diverse discussion of topics related photography. With that, see it as an open invitation to just climb in and start threads and to respond to any threads.

Lighting Issues

I could use some help understanding why my group shots with an off-camera flash and umbrella don't come out as nicely (to me) as a groups shot using on-camera flash. First image: eVolv200 with Speedlight head, Westcott 43" optical white satin umbrella, 7-8 feet up, directly behind me, metered with group about 10 feet away; Second image: end of the night, on-camera flash bounced behind me into a 3-foot wide (maybe thinner) column (which was directly behind the umbrella in the first photo). I like the second one better. These are pretty much SOC, but I had to tamp down the reflection in the poster, and I only have LR. This has happened to me before. Is my technique wrong, or do I need a different kind of umbrella? I'll provide any info you need about settings. Thanks!


  • Hi Dave,

    They look pretty darn close to me. I think the sign is just a little reflective and the background slightly darker and thats all. Keep in mind the wider shots will always have more light falloff visible in the shots as they show more of the environment (if that makes sense). I tend to "drag" the shutter and get more of the ambient light in on those wider type shots. You can always buy more lights and light the backgrounds! LOL Happy Holidays Dave!

  • Thanks, Jay. Just couldn't understand how the bounce flash off a 2-3 foot wide column had such a nice spread of light. I coulda-shoulda used two umbrellas with Speedlights. Funny, now that I think about it, I did a group photo a couple of months ago with 9 people and used two umbrellas. I need to write this stuff down!

    Have a great holiday - Dave
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    I should mention that both shots look nearly a stop under-exposed to me. 
  • Neil - here is something I think about often: you say they look a stop under, but knowing what the lighting was in that ballroom, to me they don't reflect what the lighting actually was, which was rather dark. In my head, if I photograph an event and the photos are lighter and brighter than the actual venue, I wonder if some people may say to themselves "Gee, I don't remember it being that bright in there". Maybe I'm a bit off to think that way, but I do a lot of photography in fairly dark venues, so delivering photos that look like they were shot somewhere different (exaggerating of course) seems to be not too right. I hope I have explained that so it doesn't sound too crazy.

  • So, as I divert from my original post, I want to try and further my response about delivering photos that reflect the venue. I think this photo shows it a bit better than the group shots. This is one of the photos of the keynote speaker that evening. There is no way the room was that well lit, but I was bouncing off that same column as in the second group shot, and most of the lighting onto the podium was coming from me. I'm not sure if I'm explaining myself correctly, so I hope this photo helps. I think it's a good shot, but it does not reflect what the speaker, podium, and background looked like to someone sitting in the audience.

  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    This one too is at least a stop under-exposed. 

    With group photos like that, and with presentations, it is far less about keeping the mood of the "moment", and getting well exposed portraits.  Aim for that instead. 

    Out of curiosity to try and figure out your reasoning here ... how do you decide to place your tonal levels? Or do you just decide to under-expose in the hope that it "re-creates" the low lighting at the time? 
  • OK, Neil. I'll try going for exposure over mood. But I will admit it's tough at this point in my "career" to get past re-creating what the room was like.

    With a conference or panel discussion, my feeling is it will be easier - and has been now that I think of it - to go after exposure over mood than what I posted, which was a holiday banquet for a non-profit lawyer association with a keynote speaker.

  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Re-creating what the room was like?  Just don't use flash - go for the shitty existing light that was there. With a color cast. 

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