Shooting Events With Some Creativity – II

by William Lulow

As I might have mentioned in a prior blog article, I have been getting more than my share of events to shoot lately. Many people don’t like shooting them because they think that there is really no room for creativity when all you are capturing are shots of people grinning for the camera. But, if you know your studio lighting, you can often come up with interesting and creative ways to cover events.

Most events like weddings, take place in a hotel ballroom or other convention-type facility. So, I like to go in, see what the set up is as far as a dais or lecturn goes and then set my lights up so that I have a background light as well as an accent light to go along with the light on my camera. So, for me, it’s usually a three-light job. And, I’m constantly turning each one off and on again to obtain various effects. This, most recent event was held at a local conference center.

When you are shooting an event, you never know where people are going to stand especially when it’s a cocktail party or a “meet & greet” gathering. Therefore, I like to cover all bases. I can turn on or off the light on my camera as well as the other lights I have set up around the room to get a variety of interesting lightings. Here is one :

This image was made by turning off all the extra lights except the one on the camera. I usually use this light for capturing quick takes when people are standing around talking.

As an aside, I have noticed recently, that lens flare with newer glass made for digital cameras, has been kept to a minimum because these lenses are made with an anti-flare coating that makes the reproduction of lens flare, when it is within the frame, much less obvious. I have even used it as a creative element which gives a burst of light from time to time.

Here’s another example of a creative use of the background light:

For this shot, I simply used my background light and the extra foreground light and turned off the one on the camera. Here was the setup I used basically to light the room:

If you look carefully, you can see one light on the left, just near the last set of beams, and one to the right just after the opening to the room. For the shot above, I just used the light to the left.

I can create some interesting lighting by bouncing the on-camera light off the ceiling and letting the accent light (which is aimed directly at the subject(s), be a bit brighter. (Remember: if you want the accent light to register white in the image, it needs to be about 1 f/stop brighter than your main light). I get this effect sort of naturally because the main is bounced, thus reducing it somewhat while the others are direct.

Here you can see the effects of the accent light coming from the left with the overall brightness of the scene from the main light on the camera.

So, the take-away from this article should really be that seemingly boring and straightforward types of events can be made much more interesting visually, by the addition of several other lights and, of course, the knowledge of how to use them properly.