I shot a Sikh religious event today: Sagan ceremony and Akhand path. Fun, colourful people and decorations, and very nice people.

Picture 1: Can you tell it was a Sikh event?

I had two cameras: one with the 16-35mm lens, i.e. wide angle, and one with the 70-200mm lens, i.e. a telephoto lens. The challenge was that I shot in at least four different light environments: a marquee, outdoors, indoors in one room, and indoors in another room. And shooting in Manual exposure mode means a quick changing of all the variables every time you move from one environment to the next.

Indoors, the Willems 400-40-4 rule works great. Bounce the flash behind you and 400 ISO, 1/40 sec, and f/4 should give you minus 1 to minus 2 ambient light; the flash then does the rest. When using TTL, use flash compensation to adjust to taste.

In an event like this, moments are important; as is detail:

Tilting is OK if it helps you get more in, or for creative effect:

I used the wide lens as above with bounced (behind me) flash. But I used the long lens without flash. That needed 100-200 ISO outdoors, and up to 1000 ISO indoors at f/2.8—everything at f/2.8.

In practice, in a given situation, you choose values that are going to be close enough, then watch the meter and when you move, quickly yank aperture or shutter up or down to get a reading appropriate to the situation. Basically, it is a matter of getting close enough and then fine-tuning.

“Getting close” means 400/40/4 rule inside, “sunny sixteen” values outside, and whatever works (and remember the values) in other lighting situations.

In the marquee: 1/40, f/8, 800 ISO:

Storytelling images for me often involve a close-by sharp object with the story blurred in the background:

Outdoors, I used values like 1/160 sec, 100 ISO, f/8, with fill flash. Outdoors, that flash is aimed straight ahead, not bounced:

When you shoot a lot, these sorts of values will be simple. And then you can concentrate on the fun, the people, the compositions.

Event shooting is fun: learn to shoot an event like this and you can do a lot of great work. And remember: tell stories.

And: enjoy the experience, as I always do.


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