Church Auction with 450D, 17-55/2.8 IS, 70-200/2.8 IS - no flash - advice welcome!

Started Oct 30, 2008 | Discussions thread
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Erik Bailey
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Church Auction with 450D, 17-55/2.8 IS, 70-200/2.8 IS - no flash - advice welcome!
Oct 30, 2008

Hi – looking for some quick advice…

Next weekend I’ll be the "official " photographer for our church auction. The good news is that "official " is loosely defined, and it’s not a high-pressure situation like a wedding; the way it was described to me is basically "last time we got five pictures – anything you can do that is better than that is great! " This will be at night, fairly well-lit, but still an indoor people-oriented event with lots of moving around.

The question I have is – what is the best way to shoot? I do not have, nor do I plan to acquire, an external flash. My camera is an XSi (450D), and I have the 17-55 2.8 IS and the 70-200 2.8 IS. I have also ordered the 50 1.8 for a bit more low-light reach where 50mm works. For the onboard flash, I have a Gary Fong Puffer and a Lightscoop (which I doubt will be effective since the ceilings are too high).

In the 6,000+ shots I’ve taken with the XSi, I can probably count on two hands the number I’ve taken with the pop-up flash. So I’m not very experienced with it, and plan to avoid using it if possible. I’ve collected a number of links over the past few days about flash use, and plan to review them prior to the auction, but most of what I plan to do is available light.

I shoot RAW, and have been post-processing in DPP (and retouching in my old Photoshop 6.0 where required).

Some specific questions:

  • Should I leave the camera at Auto ISO, or would it be better to set to 1600 for maximum shutter speed? I don’t know how blurred people might get depending on shutter speed – IS is great but won’t help with the motion.

  • Similar question on exposure compensation – best to leave at 0 EV, or push down to -1 or lower?

  • Should I attempt to use the pop-up flash (probably using the Puffer), or just stick with available light? I may not have a lot of time to experiment with all of the different ways of using the flash (M mode, Av mode, P mode, first/second curtain), so is there one setting that is kind of a “catch-all” that would cover most scenarios?

  • Should I do everything at f2.8 (or 1.8 for the 50), or should I stop down a bit? I love shooting at 2.8 but I rarely have to get lots of people in focus simultaneously, so DOF could be a factor here.

I’ve asked the organizers for a general overview of what the key shots they would like are (taking some cues from the great wedding photography advice). I’m comfortable with shooting groups of people and mixing up short and long range shots, so I’m fairly confident there. It’s really the indoor/night/lots of people part that is a bit different from what I’ve done before.

I’ve learned so much over the years from these forums – thanks for any advice! –Erik

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 Erik Bailey's gear list:Erik Bailey's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM Sigma 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM +1 more
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