Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Lighting Lesson

Well, I learned a lesson about effective lighting recently. I was taking some pictures of my son doing some Christmas Caroling with his Cub Scout Den at a local nursing home and assumed I would need a flash. There were two errors in my thinking...which I will get to later.

Having used crop bodies for years now, with a ceiling ISO of 1600 or so, I slapped on my 580EX II flash and configured my settings appropriately. I was convinced that given the dark situation there was no way to get shots without the flash. With my 40D this is a true statement, at least without unacceptable image noise.

Okay, so you see one of my errors in thinking, that I had to have the flash. I was forgetting that I was now shooting with my 5D Mark II, a camera I have discussed here previously and one that has much superior low light abilities to the crop bodies I have been using. In retrospect, with the 5D Mark II I should have 86'ed the flash and cranked up the ISO.

In shooting with the flash, one I am comfortable using, I realized after the fact that I was shooting down which caused the flash not cast evenly out across the halls and large rooms we were in. So the nearest part of the shot was over exposed and the back underexposed due to the angle of the flash.

So what did I learn???
  1. Keep in mind what camera you are using and shoot for that camera. If I had remembered the 5D Mark II's capabilities I would have not used the flash and gotten much more natural exposures.
  2. Thought about how my light was reflecting. Even if I had used the flash no matter what I would have adjusted the angle to best cover the space I was shooting.
In the end my lesson is to pay attention to what equipment I am using and what conditions I am shooting in. I was able to adequately fix all the pics in post processing but getting it right the first time is always best.