25 Jan 2015

Dealing with limited lighting equipment - when choices have to be made

It happens every now and then to me: when setting up the lighting for shooting I realise that I would like to have more lighting to achieve the desired effect. Not so long ago I was shooting an event at school where my wife teaches. The event consisted of several parts: some performance on the stage and a mini-concert on a piano (standing off the stage, just in front of the audience)
For the light setup on the stage I wanted to use a well proven setup for boosting the stage lighting. But then I have realised that photographing the piano player will be difficult. I had not enough light equipment to serve both purposes. So I needed to make a choice with my setup: concentrate the lighting on the piano or on the stage.
To decide I looked at the rehearsal of both events. It turned out that the singers on the stage are individuals, so the stage lighting provided for their performance would be enough. To make a sharp, steady shot of them I would have to crank up the ISO settings to the 1600+ regions, but it is not a problem to my camera.
Then the lighting for the piano. I wanted to create some drama during the pianist's performance on one side and show a context of his concert on the other. And to put enough lighting on the player of course, to make him the most dominant element of the picture.

The drama was coming from the stage lighting (a high power tungsten reflector). The light for the pianist was delivered by the SB-900 flash light put inside the Lastolite softbox. To balance the color temperature of the flashlight with the stage lighting I put the full CTO gel in front of the flash light.
So the whole setup looked like that:

The softbox being the extra light source gave enough exposure on the back of the pianist and also provided additional light on the keyboard.

Another advantage of the extra light source was that the piano was better exposed while shooting from another angle.