I don’t make it a point enough to head downtown for Riverside’s Art Walk, the 1st Thursday of every month.
I tend to pop in only when my students have their work displayed at Back to the Grind.
Thursday evening I got to meet the family of some my students and I was also treated to some very exquisite Belly Dancing by Hadia Habibi.
In my previous life I photographed all sorts of events, indoors, outdoors, some staged others totally impromptu.
On a good day, my photo assignment would give me a good idea or a â€œmental pictureâ€ of what to expect.
Lighting on-the-fly–With little preparation, all I could do was put my Canon 580EX with radio receiver, set it to 1/32th power, keep my fingers crossed that Hadia would be dancing in the general area.
Over time, this â€œmental pictureâ€ will help most photojournalists decide how much equipment, especially lighting, to bring.
I tend to bring more gear than I need because I prefer not to make multiple trips back and forth from the car.
My other reason is safety.
Dragging the shutter–With the long exposure times I was shooting 1/5 sec @f5 ISO 400, I spun the camera a little to create those streaks so to get something different. When you can’t move around very much to get a variety of pictures, you have to resort to this gimicks.
Digging in your trunk over extended periods when you’re Â a photographer is not prudent.
Onlookers and opportunistic thieves in certain neighborhoods are always on the lookout for your goodies.
Outdoor events, especially those in the early mornings or evenings are a lot easier because in available light, I can use:
- long lenses and wide open apertures to isolate my subjects
- when possible, I can take advantage of the directional light and position myself so that my subject is backlit or sidelit by changing viewpoint.
One thing I can never take for granted is that just because I have a camera I’m transparent and I have the right to obstruct the view of others.
Indoor eventsÂ almost always require some sort of supplemental lighting especially when the subject is going to be in motion such as lovely Hadia.
Most of the time, all I can do is improvise and adapt, light the scene on-the-fly.
Those of you who are curious about what the interior of Back to the Grind coffeehouse, scroll down to the image and pan around the virtual reality image.
- mostly tungsten lighting
- low light
- crowded dance floor
- limited ability to move around.
- Canon 40D with 17-35 mm f2.8 zoom lens, 50 mm lens.
- 2 Canon speedlights: Canon 580EX, Canon 430 EX speedlites
- and my radio slaves: 1 Cybersync transmitter and 2 receivers
I had literally minutes before I realized the belly dancing was to begin.
That was just enough time to stick my Canon 580 EX wired to my Cybersync receiver on a nearby table.
The trouble is with the flash placed on the very low table, the light only lit her belly even with it pointing upwards–not flattering at all.
It was better than just shooting totally available light ISO 800 1/60 @ f2.8.
When I learned Hadia was planning an encore, I quickly moved the light from the table onto a book shelf that was against the wall, pulled out my 430 EX attached it to a second receiver so I could hold it in my left hand when shooting.
This second session gave me a fighting chance.
Both strobes were set on manual. The one of the bookshelf was set to 1/32th power, the one that I handheld was set to 1/64th.
Here’s the thinking of why I set the power of the remote flash on the bookshelf on 1/32th power:
I wanted â€œbookshelf strobeâ€ to put out 1 stop more than my â€œhand-held strobeâ€ so I would always get a hairlight or backlight.
If I needed to adjust the ratio of light on Hadia, I could easily move the â€œhandheld strobeâ€ closer or further from her. (This part just comes with guess work & experience –how much to move it back for 1 f-stop difference)
And if I still needed to tweak some more, I could manually dial down the â€œhandheld strobeâ€ to 1/128th power.
Once I picked out a spot to stand where I wouldn’t block too many people’s view, I could totally concentrate on focusing and shooting.
That obvious spot to stand is in front of a support beam/post where I wouldn’t be blocking anyone.
I must remember to bring my gels to convert the color temperature of my strobes to match the predominantly tungsten lights.
This means by slapping these gels on the flash, I’ll effectively reduce the color temperature from 5500K (flash or daylight) to 3000K (Tungsten or incandescent lights).
Hadia, your dancing is mesmerizing.