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Shooting Bat Mitzvah reception, flash usage help needed

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by AFS, May 20, 2005.

  1. Hi all.
    Shooting a bat mitzvah party tomorrow night. I'm going with my D70, 18-70 and 70-200 VR (just in case and really more to show off my new toy to my friends), and a borrowed 50 1.8 and SB800.
    I've been playing around with the SB800 tonight. I'm getting a feel for the whole thing, but I do have a few questions on how to use it.
    Should I:
    Use the flip down wide angle diffuser?
    Use the attachable diffuser?
    Angle the flash head?
    I use the auto zoom, but it goes to manual with the diffusers. Do I really need them?
    Finally, should I use TTL or TTL BL (I'm mainly looking for advice, and i'll do a bit of trial and error there and of course adapt), and is FV lock a good idea to use with an external strobe, since it worked so well on the onboard?
    Thanks in advance. Your sage advice is going to help me greatly. I don't have more than an hour using external speedlights before.
  2. Hi Harrison,

    To be honest I don't even think you would need to use the 70-200 VR, but I understand if you want to show it off! :p  Anyways, I would recommend using the flash in TTL BL, it will help from blowing out highlights, especially if you are shooting close up, also I would recommend using the attachable diffuser, it's a little bit easier to take on and off. If possible try bouncing the flash off the ceiling if it's low enough. Try some slow shutter effects if possible, it makes for more interesting photos. Most of all have fun! Be part of the festivities, I thoroughly enjoyed my last Bat Mitzvah I shot, just make sure to have spare batteries and flash cards. Also make sure, you are aware of the schedule of the party. You don't want to miss the bread cutting or the chair thing (forgot the name), even though it's the party you still have to be alert!

    Anyways, here are some candid shots I took at my last party:






    PS - I don't know how old you are, but having a couple of drinks makes the party all the more fun!
  3. Heh. I'm only 16. I'm only really doing this for two reasons: one, this happens to be the bat mitzvah of my friend's sister and their mother as well. two, they are paying me.
    I'm taking my laptop and keeping it somewhere secure so I can download the pics as I go.
    Batteries are charged, lenses are packed away, i'm ready to rumble.
    thanks for the advice.
  4. I'd recommend using the diffuser dome, and angle it upwards by 60 degrees. Some light will go through the side directly at the subject, while the rest of it will go upwards and bounce around.

    Yes, the diffuser avoids red eye and flash highlights on people's faces. The value of the zoom head is that it concentrates the flash, effectively giving you more power. But, for an indoor room, the sb800 is already pretty powerful, and you can make it more so by leaving your camera's ISO set at 500. You'll more than double the range of the flash, and there's little penalty in terms of noise at 500. And you don't need to "tell" the flash that you've upped the ISO. It talks directly to the camera, and will know.

    There's one step to consider before that. What metering mode? I'd suggest spot metering on your subjects' faces. And if you're in spot metering mode, you're locked out of TTL BL, so your choice is down to TTL. I'd also suggest dialing in -1/3ev flash exposure compensation.

    Using FV lock helps avoid the preflash, which keeps people from sensitive eyes from squinting. It's a good approach, except you need to remember to reset the FV lock every time you change setups.

    Here's a few examples of indoor flash pictures using those techniques.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    View attachment 9150
    View attachment 9151
    View attachment 9152

    Now since you're getting paid, this becomes a pro assignment, so I'd suggest you get to the event location at least an hour ahead of the party, and take test shots. Find a hostess or waiter to act as your model, pop off a few shots from various distances, experiment with settings, and review the results/histograms to modify them.

    Fortunately, the sb800, Nikkor lens, and d70 are designed to work well together. You just have to make sure you don't get in their way ;) .


    My friend, work hard and be grateful for their generosity. You should be paying them for giving you a chance to improve your skills.

    Good luck!
  5. Tosh


    May 6, 2005
    Hi Harrison,

    I wish I had gotten started with photography when I was as young as you are. If I had, I might actually be good by now!

    I generally agree with the other replies. I side with Uncle Frank on using TL with spot metering. At people events like a Bat Mitzvah, I would be more concerned with getting the people exposure right than properly exposing the background.

    For non-bounce shots, try using the snap-on diffuser to soften the light. IS0 400, Manual mode, 1/60, aperture at 5.6-7.1, The SB 800 will do all the work for you. Check your histograms after a few shots to see if you need to do any minor adjustments on EV. If shooting jpg, be sure to set your White Balance to flash. Raw shooters can always correct this later.

    If you do use bounce flash for a more natural look, be sure to pull out the little white card that is hidden behind the flip-down wide-angle diffuser. It will give you some highlights in the subjects' eyes. Tilt the flash head up to 90 degrees and don't use the snap-on diffuser. Set aperture to 4 and hope for white or light colored ceilings. In a bright room with low ceilings you could try the diffuser. Ordinarily, you'll need the full power of the flash without diffuser.

    Do some tests at home stuffed animals. That's what I use since I can't get my children to sit still.

    Have fun!

  6. Successful Assignment.

    Well, after a 5 hour party, 275 shots that came out right (all RAW), and two sets of 5 AAs, I have succeeded in shooting a bat mitzvah reception.
    I didn't know as much about the location as I should have before hand, but I did get there really early with my friend and his family.
    The place was a nightclub with high black ceilings. That eliminated any bounce off the ceiling. I used the diffuser dome a bit. I got results that were a bit better and consistent (this thing was THE only light that made any difference) by angling at 45 degrees with the flip down 17mm diffuser and the bounce card. I used FV lock a lot to get the exposure just before I shot, to trigger the blink and avoid the preflash.
    I also did some interesting experiments later on in the party using the flash off camera in remote mode. Those came out really neat with shadow effects and the like.
    I have to say I was pretty popular. Not only was I a photographer that some of them knew, but I was a) 16 b) a high school student and c) knew about half of their sibilings.
    The bat mitzvah girl had not wanted a professional photographer at the party (also didn't allow the DJ to do any of those time consuming games) since she wanted to be able to have everyone have fun rather than be interrupted all the time by some old guy and be forced to take pictures with parents etc. She said she liked the way it turned out. By having me as the photographer, I could integrate, socialize, blend in and talk while getting pictures of everyone, and lots of fun pics too.
    Incidentally, I went to the service as well, and the photographer there had a D70 with 18-70 and some old manual flash, and a D100 with 17-35 Sigmathat I didn't see him use.
    I had a lot of fun doing this, it was a great learning experience and the results were awesome.
    I would like to next time I have a chance try out the off camera flash again but using the dome instead of the bounce card.
    My settings for the night were:
    ISO 200
    18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S DX @ f/8
    1/125 shutter, 1/90 and 1/160 sometimes
    M mode
    Sb800 TTL-BL 45 degrees bounce card wide diffuser
  7. Post pictures young padawan! You can't talk about it, and not show some pictures! :) 
  8. well i'll have to ask my friend...they might not want any pics online :)  I'll also have to watermark them.....
    Anyways i'm doing my PP in PS CS2. ACR is really easy to use.
    I tried a batch convert to JPEG from RAW, but ACR was doing auto exposure and brightness, trying to expose the background and blowing out the faces. I had to trash the batch conversion and now i'm doing it individually. First I'm adjusting exposure and brighness quickly in ACR, saving as DNG. The NEFs are backed up to my external hard drive which has now been disconnected in case of a computer problem. I am also burning all the NEFs to DVD this very moment. I really need a better external hard drive though. Mine is a maxtor and only 80 gigs. I've heard maxtor horror stories lately. I'm scared!
    After the DNGs are finished, i'm going to burn them and transfer them to the external drive as well. Then once those are safe, I will remove the NEFs from my laptop. Then the DNGs will be converted to JPEG, burned to DVD and given to my friend.
    I was paid pretty well I think, but i may have already killed my earnings. I broke my phone this morning :( 
    How much do photogs get paid for this sort of thing, not counting prints
  9. When thinking about the question "how much to charge" a post in another forum and a comment from local wedding photographer that is just starting out made me realize why some photographers can charge alot more than other.

    Do you have a backup if your camera or other equipment ifsomething breaks in the middle of an event? Do you have a backup for you?

    That is not say you should not get paid and paid a reasonable amount, I'm trying to figure that amount out for myself as well. But it is something to think about and as you get more customers and can get the backup equipment it is something to help you sell your services better.

    Just something to think about, I'm not sure I would even want to shot an event like a wedding (after all it should only happen once in a life time) until I get good enough and have the backup equipment to be prepared.
  10. I didn't get much, compared to what I see that the average pay per job of a wedding photog is, and of course i'm far from pro, but it was enough for me, since I had fun, and it could go to buy me a nice strobe.....
    if my phone hadn't broken today.
    And there went my money.
  11. Well I past 16 about ... years ago, and its just getting through my th.... head that having fun and doing what you like is truely the most important thing. Get another job soon abd get that strobe.
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