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Avenue lighting with multiple off-camera flashes

jhilgersjhilgers Member
edited April 2013 in flash & lighting
I am writing this post looking for some advice from those that may have done this more than I have; hopefully Neil will chime in with his experience. I intend to setup my photography equipment in a large hotel banquet room for a military ceremony I am taking photos for. I have already scouted out the room and it is obviously very large and has lots of tungsten lighting.
I intend to use the following equipment for this shoot:

1. Camera body: EOS 1D-X
2. Lenses: EF 24-70mm F2.8 II USM, EF 70-200mm F2.8 II IS USM, and EF
3. 85mm F1.2 II USM
4. ST-E3-RT Transmitter
5. 600EX-RT flashes – I have (6) of these to work with (I will be starting out by putting a ½ CTS gel on all flashes being used)

Alright, so here is where I am asking for input and anyone’s opinions. I have in the past normally set up about (4) flashes on stands extended up to about 12’ high, (2) flashes on the long sides of the room, pointing into the center of the room at approximately a 45 degree angle. I have found zooming them to around the 35mm setting works well. I have even found that if I point each of these flashes into a white 60” bounce umbrella creates a lot softer light and also covers a wider area of the room than just using the bare zoomed to 35mm flash does. I place all (4) flashes into separate groups A, B, C, and D and into manual mode (approx. 1/8 power) and control them via my ST-E3-RT transmitter through my 1D-X. I have gotten fairly decent images this way and have not used any flashes on camera in this particular situation (even though I could) using the techniques like Neil does. I have not had any issues with low light with this gear.
I have not tried this and wanted to ask if anyone thought it would be possible if I placed all of the flashes into one group and into ETTL-II mode? I am constantly moving around the room, so I will never be in the same spot all the time and my distance to my target will always be changing. Granted ETTL does not work well if it is facing the backside of the target (that the camera’s lens is taking the reading from the front side with), but I still have coverage from the other flashes.
Does anyone have any ideas how to refine this approach to giving such a room nice lighting? I could easily just leave all the flashes in manual mode (at a low power) use them as back ambient fill light and then use one on camera flash set in ETTL-II (flagged with the BFT as Neil does) while I move around that way.
Your input is greatly appreciated!


  • TrevTrev Moderator

    Reason I personally did not reply sooner was that's a lot of work to set up and control.

    Some of the places I go to, the main dance floors are so tiny and tables jammed into nooks and crannys, no space for waiters to walk through let alone me set up 4 stands, flashes, and a 60" brolly to boot.

    I currently work with a speedlite on camera, zoomed to 200mm, and if really dark, and I can find a space to squeeze a stand into I will use off cam flash, and I judge the positioning and amount of ambient as to whether I do 'bare bulb' or use reflector and bounce into wall/ceiling a bit with a Quantum or my now *favourite* off cam flash, the Cheetah CL-180.

    I suppose it depends on space, time, etc. as to what each does, but I will agree, the more thought out light placements, the better the results.
  • jhilgersjhilgers Member
    edited May 2013
    Thank you for the response. I mainly use only the on camera flash too. I have just recently gotten into some large areas where multiple flashes were an option. I have even found that when I want to avoid using stands that people could possibly trip on, I can use a multifunction clamp (http://preview.tinyurl.com/bl9hoev) to mount my speedlite up on a wall or something. I use an extra large "a better bounce card 3.0" on it and throw out a lot of light out across a large area. (http://preview.tinyurl.com/d2ckxtj
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