I was invited to a New Year's party thrown by my favorite restaurant in Burlingame. Originally located in San Francisco, it moved to its current location, a two-story building with a commercial space at the ground level and a flat immediately above, located in a mixed use (commercial/residential) part of town. After a time, the neighboring building, an industrial-sized garage with an adjoining office, came onto the market and was subsequently purchased. While the two buildings are not actually connected, a wooden facade gives one that illusion. The outbuilding serves as a staging area for the restaurant, but can be rented for parties since it has a dance floor, a full bar, and an elevated stage (Photo #1), along with an adjoining lounge complete with a wide screen television for "game day" events.
I decided to go with a Nikon CLS lighting solution to the problem for several reasons:
- The room was small enough for (reasonably) reliable communication between the commander and the remote speedlight clamped to the door,
- I could program it to shoot in the manual mode to insure consistent lighting on the stage, and
- The speedlight could be disabled at the controller, if I wished.
In Photo #3, you can see both the remote speedlight and the effect it has on my subjects. See white arrow. In this shot, it serves as an accent light. This shot also has a ghost, but a smaller one.
In maneuvering to get this image (Photo #6), I was forced to include the refrigerators at camera right. It was easy to crop the image (Photo #7, below) and adjust the exposure to get a reasonable pleasing image. I could have just as easily zoomed in slightly, but I was more intent on getting some good faces for the image.
Misstep 2: Color Contamination: In Photo #4, the camera's exposure settings allowed the existing, or ambient light, to add to the open feeling of the venue. This includes the neon signs and the tiny accent lights in the background. I was fortunate that very little light was on my foreground subject, so he is illuminated almost entirely by my key (flash) light, with a little help from some on-camera fill light from the commander speedlight.
In Photo #10 Below, you can see a definite yellow tint on John's face. This came from the lights mounted in the ceiling directly above him. They were obviously powerful enough to contribute to the overall exposure, and there isn't much that could be done short of swapping out my shoe-mounted commander speedlight for one with a CTO gel in place. While such adjustments can be made "on the fly", they can add a new level of complication to the shot, and all such changes must be reset if I was to continue shooting the the manner I had used thus far.
In future assignments, I could see myself carrying two speedlights: one with a Gary Fong Lightsphere (right) for shots like this one, and another just for use as a controller for my remote speedlights. This is not exactly an original idea, since I read where Joe McNally had programmed two SU-800s to control two separate speedlight setups running on two different channels. But at the time, the seemingly endless supply of sirloin steaks and buffalo wings, provided by our most gracious host, drew my thoughts elsewhere.
Come to think of it, I might carry a Lightsphered SB-800 and some sort of radio remote controller (Pocket Wizard, say), and switch them out as needed.