Theater Performance Lighting

Started 1 month ago | Discussions thread
Flat view
Myer Senior Member • Posts: 2,878
Theater Performance Lighting

As a favor, I photograph dress rehearsals for a theater group.

I use my Canon 70D and a Canon 70-300L lens. A few photos are taken using a Canon 15-85 lens. I have an old but fairly powerful Canon 550EX flash.

I used to use the following setting in general: 1/320 sec, ISO6400 and wide open. In really dim conditions I would slow down to 1/250 , 1/200 or even 1/160 sec.

When lucky I could somtimes lower ISO to 5000 or even 4000 and shorten the shutter speed.

About a year ago the dramatic lighting used played havoc with the photos. So I decided to start using bounce flash off the ceiling of the theater.

About a month ago I shot the rehearsal for Chicago. This was my first attempt using bounce flash on a show of theirs. The good thing about bounce flash is that you have quite a bit of leeway of acceptability.

I used manual flash figuring using bounce flash with that reasonably high ceiling would almost never be too over-exposed. That's fine.

The advantages to this are that since I am using the flash at maximum power I was able to reduce the ISO to between 2400 and 3200 instead of 6400.

The disadvantages are that the fastest shutter speed I could use was 1/250 sec and in no time the batteries took quite a few seconds to to recharge the flash.

So this month I photographed Annie.

I decided to use High Speed Synch and shoot at 1/320 sec.

The advantages were faster shutter speed, the recharge time was quite a bit faster and the  the batteries lasted quite a bit longer until I had to change them. I suspected that the flash wasn't fully discharging which is good and bad.

During pre-show testing I quickly realized there was a cost to the advantages. I was getting less than half the flashes full power so i had to increase the ISO to 4000, 5000 and sometimes 6400.

In about a month or so they do their annual dance show. With all of the dance action I definitely want to shoot at 1/320 sec or maybe even some numbers at 1/400 sec.

Then I remembered that my daughter also has the same Canon 550EX flash which I borrowed to try.

I set both flash units to Manual Mode and High Speed Synch. I set the flash on my camera to Master and the one sitting on a table several feet from me to Slave and 1/2 power. The main reason I did this was to get the benefits of using an additional flash but I wanted to reduce the number of times I would have to change batteries. I set the bounce to a slightly forward angle of both flash units.

I used a shutter speed of 1/320 sec. When I took a picture both flash units fired.

Does anybody have any experience doing this type of thing, any comments on what I'm trying to do or any comments on what else I might try that would work better.



Canon EOS 70D
If you believe there are incorrect tags, please send us this post using our feedback form.
Flat view
Post (hide subjects) Posted by
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow