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Need a little advice
Old 02-21-2006   #1
lubitel
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Need a little advice

I've been asked to photograph a little event, opening of a new cafe. Never done this officially. I am not sure what exactly is expected of me, hopefully not to much. Well they know that I like to take pictures at parties or gatherings, so thats why I was asked. But when I shoot for myself I dont have the pressure of pictures having to be always good or always in focus. So I often use minox 35gt in low light (always hit or miss). But now, there's gotta be some keepers.

The place is very small. And its going to be in the evening so its going to be rather dim.

this I think would call for a wide angle with at least something like 1.8 or 2.8
but I dont have a lens like that. Here are my choices

Bessa R with J-3 (50mm/f1.5)

Digital Rebel with 50mm 1.8 (may be too long for this kind of thing?)

Digital Rebel with 18-50 (f3.5 is not enough I think, even if shootin at 800, and at 1600 the quality is just bad)

Revue 400SE with 40/1.7 (Nice camera, 40mm is better than 50 for this purpose, but somewhat hard to focus in low light, I think it will be more like hit or miss)

Thats pretty much the choice I have. I am thinking of going for Bessa, and Rebel as a back up? But if i have a second camera, I know I'll be spending more time switching back and forth than photographing. Or should I only go for the Rebel with the 50mm than I can concentrate on some nice portraits?


I dont know, what do you think?
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Old 02-21-2006   #2
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Tell them to get an event photographer who will take photographs of the owners and the VIPs and whoever. Any local wedding photographer will leap at the chance, and hopefully give you a handful of film for the introduction.

Just because you have some cameras and they know it they think you'll do it their way when you know deep down that you do it your own way.

Go to the opening anyway, enjoy the drinks and snacks, take a friend, and maybe a camera for yourself.
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Old 02-21-2006   #3
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This calls for bounce flash I would think, direct flash would be pretty harsh in a dark place. I did not see a flash mentioned...Can you borrow a flash? Even a
simple Vivitar 283 flash will work great with a digital Rebel and the 18-55 lens.
Also take your rangefinder loaded with your fav film. I would use a flash with
it also. Again the Vivitar 283 will work on your rangefinders too...
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Old 02-21-2006   #4
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If you have time in advance (ie it isn't tonight), just go to the place at the same time of day you'll be photographing and evaluate the light - otherwise you could be in for a surprise at the night of the event. If the light is _really_ bad, and I mean if it really isn't doable to shoot with available light, look at the ceiling - how high is it? what color is it? Consider putting a flash on the 350D (consider renting one if you don't own a good one) with a head that tilts so you can bounce of the ceiling. (Still shoot (nearly) wide-open and with a high ISO, put the flash output a couple notches down, don't let it overpower the scene). Flash is imho the last resort

I really recommend taking two cameras at least, if it's a place you know and where you trust the people, I would take three and drop one or two behind the bar or some place to leave your equipment where you can change film, lenses etc at ease.

I'd take the rebel only if you can rent or borrow a fast, wide lens for it - chances are you can if you look around. If renting, have the café owners pay for it. Bump the ISO up to 1600 if you have to and convert to b&w. Remember that with the 50mm mounted, you won't be able to shoot slower than 1/60th, whereas you can probably shoot the rangefinders at 1/30th or even 1/15th. If you're photographing a café opening, I wouldn't focus too much on portraits - well, at least not solely portraits. I'm sure the owners would like overview shots, images that show the café and what was going on, the 'vibes', ...

Take the Bessa and the Revue and see what suits you best - as for the Revue, 40mm is the widest you have (bar the slow kit zoom) so you can use it for overview shots in which scale focusing should be good enough to go.

Consider bringing a small tripod (one of these petite table-top ones would even do), just put it somewhere in a corner, put the revue or the minox on it - stop down and scalefocus - and it should provide some good overview shots. Just let it stand there all night, when something interesting is going on, you can go there and trip the shutter. Stopped down (f/8-f/11 should do) for depth of field, you'll probably be at exposure times of 1/2 second to 2 seconds - this is fine for overviews - yes there'll be movement, but it could create a nice atmospheric image.

Of course, you could ask them to have someone else do it as Jon suggests, but then you'll do the same when you get another offer, and the time after that, etc. A café opening does not have the same emotional value as, say a wedding, so I think this is the perfect opportunity to get a nice little start in event photography.

Good luck, and remember to have fun!
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Old 02-21-2006   #5
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Yup, this doesn't sound like the job for a rangefinder.

And I would follow Jon's advise. Bring a camera and enjoy yourself, but I would not want the pressure of being the event photographer.
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Old 02-21-2006   #6
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If you do take it, are you sure the J3 focuses accurately on the R wide open and in close quarters? The J3 is notorious for not being built to the standard LTM back focus depth. In good light at comfortable distances DOF covers up this flaw. In a dark place where you will have it fully open the defect may be quite evident.
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Old 02-21-2006   #7
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I never used a good flash, I dont have one, and dont really know how to use one if I had one. This is probably the wrong place to figure it out for me. I think I am better off, explaining to them what kind of shots I can do, and like to do, and just do that. If they want something else, they can get a pro for this event.
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Old 02-21-2006   #8
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You are an art photographer not a wedding photographer. Don't let them see a keen guy with a camera and pressure him.

If the boot was on the other foot: say the cafe is vegetarian and well-known for its great vegetarian cuisine, would you go in there and order barbecue ribs?

Tell them 'No'.
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Old 02-21-2006   #9
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Thanks for the good tips!

Yes, the J3 focuses perfectly Got the camera from Kim.

I think I'll use bessa as the main camera. I'll see if I can borrow a lens for the rebel. If not I'll take the minox as well. And also try out some 1600 shots in BW with Rebel before the event.
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Old 02-21-2006   #10
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Jon,

I see it as a bit of a challenge, and its not quite like the barbeque in a vegetarian place. It's more like ordering Guiness in Germany, or hefeweizen in US, or ... a salad in a barbeque place.
I like shooting in these kind of locations, so if they are okay with my kind of photos, then I'll be more than glad to do it. If they want some profi-flash glamour, then I won't.

some experience won't be bad for me I think.
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Old 02-21-2006   #11
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Enjoy it. And hope they like your style. And make certain that you fill up with drinks and snacks. Wish I was there too.

By the way, some pages on your site such a s 'Color' and 'Pinhole' are coming up on my screen as 'error 404 does not exist'.
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Old 02-21-2006   #12
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Whatever you do-don't take B&W photo's. I once did that- an aunt that had a 80-year party. The pro had a Canon DSLR etc, I took my Digilux2 for colour and M6 with FP4 for B&W. They prefered my colour shots by far- not really fair on the pro as I knew who and what to shoot (always the advantage of the family member) but they hated my (I thought rather nice) B&W shots. "Something has gone wrong with the colour in printing"
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Old 02-21-2006   #13
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I agree with Rob - (rf with) bounce flash if the ceilings are low enough and white/bright.

You should use lens aperatures of 5.6, 8 and 11 so that you have the appropriate depth of field. When photographing groups of people they will not usually be standing in the same plane of focus. Having some people in focus and others out of focus will not always be satisfactory to the client.

The shutter speed should be set to the highest flash sync speed possible.

The flash might be set so that your lens lets in one stop more light, for example:

Flash: f/8.0, Lens f/5.6
Flash: f/11.0, Lens f/8.0

Bring lots of extra batteries and have fun! Bounce flash is easy and has a very nice effect.
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Old 02-21-2006   #14
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Be careful using a Vivitar 283 with an digital camera. Older ones kick out a very high trigger voltage that can fry an electronic camera.

Bounce flash in general is astonishingly easy to use. You get a cheap flash that can tilt straight up to the ceiling, and you use a rubber band to attach a business card (or Bierdeckel) to the back so that it reflects some fill-light into people's eyes. A couple pix I just posted to my gallery use this technigue in zero-light locations:

dark hallway

and dark abandoned building

A basic flash ought to cost less than $/euro 50. Their automatic settings handle the light metering for you, you just set the f/stop on the camera to a stop less than what the flash is indicating (ie, if flash says f/4, you pick f/2.8 or, in the case of the Canon zoom 3.5). With B&W you don't have to worry about color-balance off a weird ceiling or whatever.

That said, many cafe's might appreciate slightly arty/edgy natural-light photos. The first recommendation would be to show them some of your work, especially in black and white if that's what you prefer. That way they know what they're asking for. Anyone can and will take flash-snaps with a digital. The cafe owners might just like your moodier work. The small tripod idea is also a very good compromise. You'll get sharp pix (use a camera with a self timer to avoid camera shake).

I learned how to use an electronic flash while using a Nikkormat with a 50mm f/1.4 in a bar I frequented near Bremen 25 years ago. Using a 50, you do have to scrunch into a corner if you're trying to show the whole place, but it's a great length for capturing portraits of regular patrons.
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Old 02-21-2006   #15
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Yevgeni,

the shots I've seen on your website are beautiful. Moreover, it seems to me that for you it's not a matter of flashlight or not in technical terms but in the way you like to take photographs - i.e. in available light.

I'm coming to think of the old masters like Dr. Erich Salomon who took his famous society shots in the 1920s and 30s with the Ermanox (zone focusing at ISO 14-25...!) or later the Leica III (rangefinding at ISO 50).

If you want to do it that way, then...

... use at least 400 ASA film. My experiences with b/w 400 material (even the cheap one produced until very recently by Photo Dose, Germany) pushed 1-2 stops are pretty good.

For you as a b/w photographer with artistic aims I can recommend Maco Cube 400c.

http://www.mahn.net/

From your photos I conclude that your photog area may well be located in Northern Germany, so you can probably get the film at the "1000 Töpfe" store at Lange Reihe in Hamburg-St. Georg, for example.

Maco Cube 400c can be exposed from ISO 100-6400 (!) with pretty good results.

With ISO 1600, you can perhaps use your Minox 35 with zone focusing, stop it down to f/4 and put the metering to 4m, then the DOF should be something between 2.8 and 6 m at shutter speeds of 1/25 or, with a little more light, 1/50s. Or keep it at f/2.8 and guesstimate the distance (which works well with my Minox 35).

Consider using a tripod. I always carry one of these tiny tabletop ones with flexible legs with me, the type that is sold by Hama for almost nothing and use it to temporarily fix the cam to walls, columns, tables - anything.

Take the Bessa and the Rebel with you as well but primarily shoot with the cam you like best. Shoot a lot.

Keep to your style and inform the people you are working for that you will do so. Let them see your portfolio of b/w photog from your website in advance in order to avoid conflicts afterwards. Tell them they cannot expect press or snapshot photography from you.

Enjoy!

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Old 02-21-2006   #16
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I want to thank everybody for the great tips, and ideas. I got more out of this thread than I expected. I think this time I will stick with no-flash, but I will definitely try it out soon. And I just found out that it starts at 3pm, and goes late in the evening, so I will probably have enough light during the day.

Jesko, are you really from Lüneburg? What a small world, I am here too! I know the 1000 Töpfe place, thats where I buy outdated film
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Old 02-21-2006   #17
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As a wedding/event photographer, I would recommend using a flash diffuser and not worrying about the ceiling or the bounce lighting. I use the Gary Fong Lightsphere II found here
http://store.garyfonginc.com/
or even a homemade one like this
http://super.nova.org/DPR/DIY01/
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Old 02-22-2006   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Byuphoto
As a wedding/event photographer, I would recommend using a flash diffuser and not worrying about the ceiling or the bounce lighting. I use the Gary Fong Lightsphere II found here
http://store.garyfonginc.com/
or even a homemade one like this
http://super.nova.org/DPR/DIY01/

Fong Review:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=17044385
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