Monday, February 22, 2010

The Reunion Dinner

The reunion dinner on the CNY eve is a very important dinner for a family. All family member will have to make their way back to home to re-unite with the rest of the family member. It is the time where everyone update their latest happening in their life; from work to love, from health to wealth.

It's our tradition to have steam boat for our re-union dinner. Why steam boat? Since we are living in such a hot and humid country? The reason why steam boat is chosen is beyond my understanding, but I reckon that preparing steamboat is much easier, and of course it's healthier. :D

This dinner is so important so I wish to keep a photo record of such reunion dinner. Photographing a dinner event under yellowish bulb condition would be a nightmare to me. The only light source available in the room is a ceiling hanging yellowish bulb. Low light means I have to bump up my ISO and shooting at very low shutter speed. Yellowish bulb means I have to custom set my WB.

Slow shutter speed means I have big chance to capture ghosting effect. Wrong setting means I'd have a very yellowish skin tone and everything would look "hot"!

I've read how to light in a big room in strobist's Christmas Game Plan. I was sceptical about Dave's way of lighting his living room with two flashes. Since I have a reunion dinner event to shoot, why not give it a try.

I was depending on my memory about the settings and where to set my flashes. All I remember was to position my flashes across the area where I was shooting the event.

With my light stand, I mounted my two F42 flashes position in such a way that the flashes are aiming to each other, but slightly pointed upward toward the ceiling.

A test shot as can be seen in the photo on the left, you can see a single flash could actually light up the whole dinning room ! With the flash at the same position, I could have "side lightings". Cool, eh ?

I adopt how strobist explained where to position his flashes. During the dinner event, I put my flashes as shown in the sketch on the left. Flash A was set to a corner near our dining table, and another flash B, position almost opposite to flash A as shown. Both flashes were pointing upward onto the ceiling.

Both flashes were fired wirelessly using my A700's onboard WL function.

Wait a minute, don't we need the sight of light to trigger the flashes? Strangely I do not need so. I could able to trigger the flash even it's behind me. Well, I guess the flash pulse from A700 is strong enough to fill up the whole dinning room.

So, how's the result ?

That's my mother hugging my son, Ee Young with my father in the foreground munching a shrimp. Base on my father's expression, I am sure that the shrimp must be pretty tough to chew.

Well, pretty good for my own standard. With two flashes nuking the dinning room, I could capture everything with high shutter speed at 1/250th of a sec without worrying of blur image because of hand shaking.

In the photo on the left, flash B has become the main light where flash A has become the hair light. Cool, eh !

A very important aspect to look into would be the colour of the ceiling that I am going to bounce. I do find the due to some yellowish ceiling colour, all my photos are hotter that it should be. However, it's easily corrected in post processing.

Later on, after the dinner, we hang out in the living room. Similar lighting set-up for the living room with different flash location as shown in the sketch on the left.

I moved my flash A to the new location as shown. This time, the flash was pointing to the nearest wall so the flash could bounce from the wall hence creating a wide broad directional light coming from side. A soft box effect so to speak.

Flash B was a main fill flash during the dinner event, but it became a back fill light in the living room. This is because most of the time our activity happened in the living room where our face were facing to the wall where flash A would bounce from.

My father and his two grand sons, David and Ee Young. David is my elder brother's and the little fella with red chinese costume is my son. Flash A was position at their front right and flash B was at their back left. I was in the middle of the flashes where flash A was on my left and flash B was on my right.

Flash A bounce from the wall, hence creating a soft box effect falling onto their faces. You can see from the shadow of my father's leg. Flash B bounce from the ceiling above to cast a soft light falling onto their hair.

This method proven work to me. At least I have no worry of shooting at low shutter speed. I guess this method could be very useful for a wedding shoot as most of the great action would happen inside the house. By placing two flashes, or may be three, on strategic locations, shooting a chaotic in-door event with fast shutter speed no longer a mission impossible.

Oh, by the way, Happy Chinese New Year to all. :D