Multiple Flash

Bangere Purnaprajna plays violin while Shiva Narasimhamurthy (not pictured) accompanies him on the mridangam, a type of drum. The pair played before more than two dozen audience members at Shanthi Mandir, a Hindu temple in Columbia, on Sunday.
(Camera: f/2.8, 1/125, ISO 200, Custom White Balance; Strobe 1: TTL,
Bounced off ceiling about 8 feet high, green gel; Strobe 2: TTL dialed up 1 and 1/2 stops. Remote fired, direct, green gel)


Though working with more than one light is not something new, executing multiple flash outside of the controlled environment of the studio proved to be difficult. Sara and I went to the Hindu temple on Sunday to photograph a class as well as a concert. I was focusing on the concert. I checked out a set of Dyna-Lites to use, but once the stage was set for the concert, I realized that I would not have enough room to set them up. The performers were essentially in the corner of the room, so cross-lighting would not have covered them. I considered using the lights in a different setup, but I thought that their power might distract both the performers and the audience as well as get in the way of the audience’s line of sight.

I had also checked out some Nikon gear to use with Sara’s equipment just in case the Dyna-Lites did not work, so I ended up using a pair of SB 800s. (What does SB stand for anyway? Super bright?) I bounced my strobe off the ceiling using TTL. I had Sara stand with the other strobe on the other side of the performers. I had her using direct flash dialed up 1½ stops. Basically I was using trial and error for the flash exposure. I would check the histogram and look at what I though the light ratio was like and then adjust the strobes. My camera was set at f/2.8, 1/250th, ISO 200, and custom white balance.

The lighting in the temple is a mess. They have fluorescents, but some of them are green, some are brownish, and some are peachy. Plus over the stage they had a string of small tungsten lights and a pair of smallish tungsten spotlights. Arrg! For reasons I cannot figure out, neither Sara nor I could get a proper custom white balance setting. Fortunately I had green gels on both strobes, so everything was basically the same icky-green color that was easy to correct later.

My select is pretty heavily cropped. I had both performers in the original picture, but I decided that the crop I made works much better compositionally. The shadows were pretty hard to deal with in this situation. There was a large component of the sound system above my head that is casting a shadow on the subject in my select. I did not notice this at the time because I was more focused on eliminating the shadow behind him cast by another sound system component. I’m not happy with sound systems right now. There weren’t many other places for me to position myself because of the mess of microphones and wires and so forth. So this is what I have. It’s good to leave room for improvement, right?

Lighting Setup