So how did the 7D do?

I shot an event yesterday, as said. In a club. A challenging environment.

More pics coming soon, but here’s one more, just to give you a taste of what a good camera and good glass can do.

TRIBE. 400 ISO, f/2.8, 1/60th, at 110mm (70-200 2.8L on a 7D), bounce flash

TRIBE. 400 ISO, f/2.8, 1/60th, at 110mm (70-200 2.8L on a 7D), bounce flash

I shot with two cameras:

  • The 1Ds MkIII with the wide lens (16-35 2.8L earlier, 35mm f/1.4 later)with a 580EX II flash.
  • The 7D with the long lens (70-200 2.8L) and a 430EX II flash.

And they did fine.

The 7D produced some wonderful images – to be posted here with technique tips in the next little while. I am very happy with it.

To start you off, some tips for club shooting:

  • Shoot wide. I needed f/1.4-f/2.8 at 1/30th or less at up to 1,600 ISO.
  • Bring a small LED flashlight so you can see your camera (thanks Alvin, for the tip)
  • Bring two cameras, one long for shots uch as the above, and one wide for the “grip and grins”. Wide should be 35mm on full frame or 24mm on crop cameras, and fast.
  • You can drag the shutter more if you have to.
  • Shoot people with some light in the background
  • Bring batteries
  • Bounce, or if you cannot, then use a Gary Fong lightsphere or a Honl bounce card with CTO gels

And of course: have fun.

Motion a drag?

…only if you drag the shutter. You may have heard this expression, “dragging the shutter”. What does it mean?

It means taking a flash picture and then letting the shutter stay open for a while longer, so it “drags”.

Why? To capture more light. Not more flash light – that comes and goes in a thousandth of a second or less. No, it is ambient light we’re after. Dragging the shutter means the backgrounds get some light, instead of being dark. So we get better flash pictures.

There is a danger, of course: the danger of motion during that extra extended shutter time. And a very particular kind of motion:


What is happening here? The flash lights up the foreground, and the flash is 1/1000th of a second, so that is frozen in time. But the background is lit by ambient light so is affected by hte long shutter speed. A very recognizable “ghostly” kind of look.

How to drag the shutter?Turn on your flash and:

  • On Nikon cameras, activate “slow flash” and use shutter or aperture mode.
  • On Canon cameras, simply use Tv or Av mode.
  • Or on either, use “night portrait” scene mode (but you don’t use scene modes, do you?).
  • Or use “manual” and select a slow shutter speed, like 1/15th second.

Have fun trying.  This takes a bit of practice, and everyone has their own limit as to what they will accept.