Sunday, July 31, 2011
One of my students asked for some direction in photographing events in auditoriums or other large, artificially lit venues. Let's look at some of the most commonly encountered problems . This sample photo was made in the College of San Mateo auditorium during the 2010 San Mateo Adult School's graduation ceremony.
Lighting: This is a no-flash situation, so you must rely on the exiting lights. As I said in an earlier post, the "Nose Knows", so I would suggest that you shoot only when the subject is looking towards the light to insure some detail in the eyes.This can be difficult when photographing inexperienced speakers who are probably won't make eye contact with the audience very often.
ISO Settings: You should expect to use high ISO settings when shooting indoors, but don't go overboard. Use the lowest setting you can get away with. Remember that the higher the ISO setting, the greater the effects of noise on your images. Your camera's built in noise suppression may not be as effective as a post production fix, so you would be well advised to turn the in-camera noise adjustment to "low", or "off". I try to stay at 1600 or below, when I can.
White Balance: You can bet that some sort of incandescent light source will be used. If you cannot set a custom white balance, you must rely on your camera's presets. for this photograph, I set the camera to the incandescent white balance preset. You can always make minor corrections after the fact using the photo editor of your choice, the route I normally choose.
One unique lighting problem occurred during this assignment: A digital projector was used to position an image of the school's logo behind the podium. The color temperature of the projector's bulb was significantly cooler that the spot lights aimed at the stage. Had I relied on the camera's automatic white balance setting, the correction would have probably been confused by the the two different light sources, and the subsequent difference in color temperatures. I decided to stay with a setting that gave the most pleasing skin tones, which is why I stayed with my original Incandescent preset.