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Advice needed - Santa's grotto

darley 5 2
5 Nov 2012 2:14PM
Hope this is the right place. I'm a fairly experienced photographer but have been asked to shoot a charity Christmas function in a community hall, specifically kids visiting Santa in his grotto, which I've never done. I foresee problems with lighting - lots of little lights in the background as well as ambient lighting, none of which I can control. I have a Canon 600D with a wireless 430EX II flash and intend using the kit 18-55 is II lens. I need fairly wide shots to include kid/Santa/grotto.

Any tips on lighting such a scene? Speedlite is controlled via camera flash so both will fire. I don't think I'll have long to set up and practice so need a basic starting point to work from. I'm thinking Speedlite off to the side bounced off ceiling and fill flash from camera, ISO 400, f5.6-6.0, WB I can figure out on the day but will shoot RAW as well.

I won't have time to do much PP as lots of parents will be wanting pics soon after!

Any advice will be greatly appreciated!

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scottishphototours 14 2.6k 2
5 Nov 2012 2:59PM
ISO 800, f4, 1/60, WB at 5000K, flash 10 degrees above Santas eyeline and 10 degrees to your side to produce very flat light, fired through brolly to soften on either TTL or manual 1/8th power should just about do it....dont forget spare batteries for flash...
darley 5 2
5 Nov 2012 3:51PM
Thanks Scottish - don't have a brolly so would a simple diffuser do? Don't do a lot of indoor stuff and don't want to buy stuff I'll never use again - charity do so no payment. Is 1/60 fast enough for fidgety kids? What's the advantage of longer exp in these situations? I planned to hand hold as I want kids to act natural.

Stocked up on batteries Smile
JackAllTog Plus
9 5.0k 58 United Kingdom
5 Nov 2012 4:00PM
Hi Steve,

Welcome to epz.

+ Spare memory cards, ideally a few to swap over with an assistant working the laptop/printer side.
Another assistant to distract the Kids to look at the camera.

Will the on camera flash also be lighting the scene - or just optically triggering the speedlight? Will there be enough line of sight between the 2? or would a cable be better?

Would the speedlite overheat with too many kids - battery's themselves get warm with use so changing them around every 20 shots may help keep the 430 cool.
My 430 goes to sleep far to quickly and needs waking up after a few mins - you could be jumping up to do this a lot.

Are you covered by the event organiser for insurance, against people suing you, or for your kit if it gets damaged?
Would you need to be CRB checked.

good luck
scottishphototours 14 2.6k 2
6 Nov 2012 11:22AM
No point in going longer than 1\60th, would give you subject blur due to movement. The high iso records anbient light and the flash gives your subject exposure.

Make sure you have permission from parents to picture kids, ideally a model release form signed by parents to allow you to publish on web will be needed. This is a minefield nowadays, CRB maybe needed as Stuart says, consult the organisers if in doubt...
darley 5 2
10 Nov 2012 2:28AM
Thanks for all replies. I have been mulling this over and although I want to minimize continuous lighting so as not to spoil the overall effect of the grotto, I think I may need some. The speedlite easily provides enough light to fill the area (I have tested it on site) but I was thinking of a couple of LED lights as they are fairly cheap and unobtrusive, no wires for people to trip over etc. Has anyone any experience of these and can they recommend one? I only need enough light to ensure the faces are clear so I was thinking a small LED either side.

Thanks again!
mikeweeks 13 974 3 England
10 Nov 2012 7:01PM
Why would you need to be CRB checked? No prolonged contact, even schools photographers do not need to be CRB checked if you follow the letter of the law, it is schools that do not understand the law that insist on that

Model release is not law in UK, so why would you need one - much better to have terms of entry that mean they can opt out or avoid

Any photographer doing anything like this without their own public liability is a fool

What I do not understand is why people that have no experience and are without the kit commit themselves to do something like this - so you need to be able to do a test set up and get it right or else you will just be letting everybody down - personally I think you are under equipped to do a decent job and a simple shoot through umbrella will make a large difference.


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