June has been a very, very busy month.
Earlier this June I shot for three days at the Global Petroleum Show in Calgary. It was not terribly exciting stuff as I mostly shot pictures of empty booths but getting paid to shoot pictures is always good and gaining experience is never a bad thing either.
One particular assignment during the show involved capturing people interacting at the Bolivian national oil company's booth for marketing and promotional purposes. It seemed simple enough and honestly, it was pretty simple. However, the indoor lighting was not great and without adding some light of my own, I would be left with blurry and noisy images. I was shooting with my Canon 5D Mark II and 24-105mm f/4.0L lens. I set the camera to manual mode and my settings to 1/60th of a second, f/7.1 and ISO 1250. ISO 1600 is about the max I will go with my 5D Mark II, unless I'm really desperate for more shutter speed. One-sixtieth of a second is good enough to prevent camera shake on my image stabilized lens. At these settings, ambient light was about half to a full stop underexposed, depending on which way the camera was pointing because the booth is not evenly lit.
Adding the light…
There were many ways to solve the lighting problem. The simplest probably would have been to drop a flash in the hot shoe and fire away but we all know that that combination rarely provides great looking results. Sure I could have added some modified to the hot shoe flash but you still get fairly hard shadows and a higher likelihood of redeye and other deficiencies. My solution? Put up a stand and fire a flash through an umbrella. So what's good about that? Way softer shadows and more natural looking light, plus the umbrella spreads the light more evenly over a larger area. The downside? Having an umbrella on a light stand in a fairly small booth was really conspicuous and could sometimes be in the way. Regardless, I found it to be a good solution and I was quite pleased with the end result.