Jun 212009
 

With this setup, the goal was to enhance the lighting level of the stage and lectern in the main conference area — used for keynote speakers, lunches, and plenary sessions.  I was to shoot each speaker, and also the obligatory grip-and-grin at the close of each presentation.  The ceiling is about 14 feet high, the walls and drapes are a gray that’s a little lighter than 18%, and the carpeting is a darker gray.

Since the lights would be set up and turned on all day, I needed to place the stands so that they wouldn’t obstruct attendees.  Two columns (shown) provided good base locations and I marked the footprints of the two light stands (Bogen 3333s) with yellow gaffers tape.  Each light was mounted on a fully extended stand (about 9 feet), and positioned to aim light across the front of the stage, with 100% overlapping “fields of fire”.

The first evening was a reception and I set up Alien Bees B800 #1 with the small Brolly Box, and B800 #2 with just the standard Alien Bees 7-inch reflector.  Both units were on full power.  Looking at the results, I decided that light from #2 was too harsh, so starting the next morning (and for the three day run), I used a small shoot-through umbrella.  This took advantage of the walls for some bounce.  Light #1, being in the middle of the room with no walls, worked well with the Brolly Box.

After looking at shots from the first full day, I reduced the power on the lights to 1/2 in order to get just a little bit more ambient light.  Using a Sekonic L-558 meter, I checked the light across the entire front of the stage.  For ISO 400, I was getting f/5.6 to f/5.6.2 — well within any tolerance needed for this kind of work.

Simple Setup for an Event

There is nothing sexy about this setup.  I just needed to increase the light level evenly across the stage, and have it not look too harsh.  I was surprised at how well the Brolly Box (in the middle of the room) and the shoot-through umbrella (against the wall) worked in tandem.  This also speaks to having both a range of light modifier types in your kit, and also the utility of the smaller sizes.

Jun 202009
 

I was asked to shoot pictures at a 3 1/2 day conference — an organization I belong to.  I shot pictures at the event last year, but it was a last-minute thing and I really didn’t have the time to set up anything special in the way of lighting.  Shots of speakers were OK — mostly bounce flash on a Nikon D300 and 70-200 f/2.8 VR lens.  Pictures of keynote and plenary speakers were not that hot since it was a bigger room, and had a lovely combination of gray walls, gray drapes, and gray carpeting.  The on-camera bounce flash (Metz 54 MZ-4i) lost most of its punch at that distance.

For this year’s conference I Initially thought about placing a pair of Vivitar 283 flash units on light stands covering the stage, triggered by radio remotes.  But since the Alien Bees receivers need to be stimulated every hour to stay awake, I was faced with the prospect of lowering light stands periodically.  Also, the only way they’d have enough power would be in the direct mode, and I wanted to used some kind of light modifiers to soften the lighting a little bit.

I had been thinking about getting a basic set of studio lights for some time.  Looking at the Paul C. Buff website, I decided that this was as good an excuse as any, and so decided to get some of his Alien Bees monolights.  I purchased two B800 units (320 Ws) and one B400 (160 Ws), plus some smaller modifiers.  I also purchased a CyberSync CSR+ unit (powered by line current) for each.  (These units will allow remote control of light output when the new Cyber Commander transmitter/control unit becomes available.)

Next:  A pretty simple setup.

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