Shooting the Publicity Photo for Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, 4 – Alienbees B1600, 4 – PocketWizard Plus, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/200

Another school year and another play. My daughter’s high school is putting on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night this fall. I just shot the publicity photos.

Here is the lighting diagram for the photo above.

The main light is an Alienbees B1600 with a 20º grid to keep the light tight on them. I put just enough on the light on the background to just light it and then used a CTO gel over a Alienbees positioned behind the background which had a 30º grid.

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, 4 – Alienbees B1600, 4 – PocketWizard Plus, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/200

I enjoyed shooting this for my daughter and her classmates. I hope we can get more people to show up to the show because the photos helped generate more attention.

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, 4 – Alienbees B1600, 4 – PocketWizard Plus, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/200

Nikon D5 comparing ISO 800 to 66535

Nikon D5, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 800, ƒ/11, 1/200–4 – Alienbees B1600 w/45º reflectors, PocketWizard Plus 

I shot this group photo of 400 musicians and to get the most even light I ended up bouncing 4–Alienbees B1600 strobes with 45º reflectors bouncing off the ceiling. I also used the ExpoDisc to get a custom white balance.

This is pretty heavy crop of the above photo.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 7200, ƒ/5, 1/200

Now this is a performance shot with available light. If you notice the light on the orchestra at the bottom wasn’t very even and this is why I shot with strobes rather than using available light for the group photo.

Now just to give you an idea of how good ISO 7200 looks here is a enlargement of similar size to the first photo.

Pretty awesome if I say so myself.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 66535, ƒ/5.6, 1/200

I was blown away with the ISO 66535 quality of the french horn player.

Fujifilm X-E2: Using only available light for meeting

Fujifilm X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.5, 1/90

Assessment

I walked into the room and along one side of the room was a wall with handprints. It was lighted and the brightest spot in the room.

The problem as you can see in the first photo is this was the background for the speakers. They might have been standing in front of window with sunlight coming in.  There were not lights on the speakers except for the room lights, which were of course much darker than the wall.

This is the first thing I do in any situation—look around and see where the light is and isn’t. I then pay attention to the type of light that is in the room.

I am assessing the direction and the quality of the light in the room.

Fujifilm X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.4, 1/70

As long as I wasn’t photographing the speakers, the rest of the room really didn’t present the same issues of the backlit speakers.

Custom white balance

To get the best possible color in any situation I rely first on the ExpoDisc.  I bought the original version in the 77mm size. I just hold this in front of the lens to set the white balance.

The new version you can get filters that you put over the ExpoDisc which let you warm up or cool down your color temperature.

If you use a slightly blue filter then your camera will add the opposite color, which is yellow to try and color correct the image. This process will warm up your photos.

If you used a slightly yellow filter the camera will add blue and therefore make your photos cooler.

Since the ExpoDisc is going over the lens and capturing the light as it hits the filter this is giving you an incident light reading.

A general rule is an incident light reading is more accurate than a reflective reading because it is not influenced by the object the light is hitting. It just reads what the amount of light is hitting or the color of the light.

The camera set the Kelvin to 3650 and added 30+ magenta for my photos.

Since I was under a fluorescent/sodium vapor type of lights I had to use a shutter speed slower than 1/100 to avoid getting color banding in the photo.

Fujifilm X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.6, 1/70

Exposure Value Adjustment

I shot the photos using the aperture priority mode on the Fujifilm X-E2.  I picked the A for the shutter-speed and then I shot wide open with the aperture.  I am using the MULTI metering mode for the Fujifilm X-E2.

I had the camera set to use AUTO ISO. The low end ISO was set to ISO 100 and the high end to ISO 6400. The shutter speed was set to 1/100 since I didn’t want to go above this due to the fluorescent/sodium vapor lights.

I am using the electronic viewfinder (EVF) while shooting. This gave me a great advantage over my DSRL because I am seeing what I will get later. The minute I put the camera on the speaker all that backlight was silhouetting my speaker.

To get the correct exposure on the speaker I just adjusted the EV dial by +2.7 and the result is what you see above.

Fujifilm X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/50 [focal length 200mm & 35mm equivalent 300mm]

I am handholding the Fujifilm X-E2 with the XF 55-200mm. In this photo of the speaker the lens is equivalent to a 300mm lens on my full-framed DSLR. So shooting at 1/50 shouldn’t be this sharp. The reason is the lens has optical image stabilization (O.I.S.).  The image stabilization function allows the use of shutter speeds 4.5 stops slower. As you can see the photo looks pretty sharp for 1/50.

O.I.S. cannot help you if the subject moves a lot while you are taking the photo. It just helps keep your camera steady.

Fujifilm X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.7, 1/30 [RAW image processed through Adobe Lightroom]

Fujifilm X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.7, 1/30 [JPEG from camera no Adobe Lightroom]

Why not ISO 12800 or 24600?

Frankly I am not that thrilled with the way the Fujifilm X-E2 handles skin tones. They tend to come out just a little waxy for my taste. To use an ISO greater than ISO 6400 on the Fujifilm cameras you must shoot JPEGs and not RAW.

If the photos were not working I would have shot at a higher ISO and lived with the trade out of the waxy skin tones verses not so sharp of photos.

Fujifilm X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/75

For Comparison

Nikon D4, 28-300mm. ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/125

The one thing I still like about the Nikon D4 over the Fujifilm X-E2 is shooting raw at even higher ISO settings. Here the photo above is shot available light just like the Fuji and the lens also has image stabilization to help with camera motion.

How about strobes?

Nikon D4, 28-300mm. ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/200 [2 Alienbees B1600 lights bounced on 1/32 power]

I also shot photos using two Alienbees B1600 lights with Pocketwizard Plus II on the lights receiving the radio signal from the Pocketwizard MiniTT1 Transmitter on the Nikon D4.

Obviously the flashes helped a great deal with the quality of the image, but at what sacrifice? They announced to everyone in the room when I was taking a photo. It made the people too aware and less relaxed.

No question that you get better quality light with strobes, but unless you are dealing with professional actors/actresses you are not going to get the best expressions over the course of a meeting. Sure you will get some, but I believe available light is the way to go—if possible.

Nikon D4, 28-300mm. ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/200 [2 Alienbees B1600 lights bounced on 1/32 power]

Couple more photos for you

Fujifilm X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.6, 1/110

Nikon D4, 28-300mm. ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/160 [2 Alienbees B1600 lights bounced on 1/32 power]

Hair bit nicer color with the flashes, but if I am getting the photo with the Fujifilm X-E2 that looks this good without flash, why use flash?

3 Light Modifiers for Flash

Bounced Light into Umbrella Silver/White 

These examples show using a bounced light into an umbrella outside and everything stays the same except the shutter is slowed down to allow more of the ambient light of the outdoors to light the background for us.

Using an Alien Bee B1600 on 1/32 with bound sliver/white umbrella

Nikon D4, Nikkor 28-30mm, ISO 200, f/5, 1/200

Nikon D4, Nikkor 28-30mm, ISO 200, f/5, 1/100

Nikon D4, Nikkor 28-30mm, ISO 200, f/5, 1/50

Nikon D4, Nikkor 28-30mm, ISO 200, f/5, 1/25

Shooting the light through a white umbrella 

Everything is the same in the example above but we changed the light modifier to shooting through the umbrella verses bouncing.  See if you can see a difference.

Nikon D4, Nikkor 28-30mm, ISO 200, f/5, 1/25

Nikon D4, Nikkor 28-30mm, ISO 200, f/5, 1/50

Nikon D4, Nikkor 28-30mm, ISO 200, f/5, 1/100

Nikon D4, Nikkor 28-30mm, ISO 200, f/5, 1/200


 Shooting with a 10º Spot Grid

This is going to another extreme of not lighting everything but mainly just the model’s face. Other than the light not lighting the shirt can you see any other differences?

Nikon D4, Nikkor 28-30mm, ISO 200, f/5, 1/200

Nikon D4, Nikkor 28-30mm, ISO 200, f/5, 1/100

Nikon D4, Nikkor 28-30mm, ISO 200, f/5, 1/50
Nikon D4, Nikkor 28-30mm, ISO 200, f/5, 1/25

These are just wider shot of the same thing above so you can see the light fall off from the grid light.

Nikon D4, Nikkor 28-30mm, ISO 200, f/5, 1/25

Nikon D4, Nikkor 28-30mm, ISO 200, f/5, 1/50

Nikon D4, Nikkor 28-30mm, ISO 200, f/5, 1/100

Nikon D4, Nikkor 28-30mm, ISO 200, f/5, 1/200

I used the PocketWizard Mini TT1 to trigger the flash

I used the PocketWizard Plus receiver on the flash to trigger the flash

 Try this yourself and see what kind of results you get. Maybe try a large white bed sheet to shoot your flash through and bounce to see if you get different results using it over your umbrella or soft box.