Event photographers often need to photograph a group of people on a staircase, either in an elegant home or catering hall. The staircase shot can be a challenge but positioning yourself correctly can produce a great result.
Shooting your subjects straight on from the top or bottom of the stairs will give you trouble with both the light falloff and dept of field.
If the layout of the room allows you to shoot from the open side of the staircase you will get a more even spread of light and all your subjects will be in focus.
You can even vary the pose by putting the main subjects (in a wedding the Bride & Groom) standing on the floor near the handrail and possibly include shorter people such as ring-bearer, flower girl, junior bridesmaid and junior ushers in front of the people standing on the stairs.
We have been producing our own series of “product support” videos. We noticed many basic questions coming up repeatedly on our customer support page at GetSatisfaction.com and thought that some short online videos would help answer them.
A couple of months ago our in-house creative talents set about the task. We have a lot great equipment around the shop, including tripods, light stands, monitors, video capable DSLR cameras, and of course our own Omicron LED Ring Light.
With all the equipment ready to go the next step was to decide on a topic and script it. We turned to our Technical Support Specialists to find out specifically what people are asking. As it turns out Customer Support hears everything from “What’s In The Box” to “How Do I Set It Up for Remote”
Being novice film makers we started with a simple, “What’s I n The Box” for our Trio flash, followed by a couple of short “Trio Menu” walk through videos and finally the remote Trio set-up.
As our video collection grows we will be organizing them into albums designed to support particular products. The Trio album is complete now… unless someone decides to make a sequel.
The Quantum Trio, Trio Basic, and Pilot all work with High-speed Sync. This great feature allows you to capture the color in the sky by pushing the shutter speed beyond the normal limits of your DSLR camera.
To activate the high-speed sync on your Trio or Pilot press the option (OPT) soft key, use the +/- soft keys to move to the “select sync” menu, and used the arrow keys to select high-speed sync (HSS). Press the Mode/OK soft key and the Trio or Pilot is ready to go.
If you are shooting with a Canon camera you will now be able to set you shutter speed above the usual 1/250 limit.
If you are using a Nikon DSLR you will need to adjust a custom setting. There is a setting on Nikon camera bodies (D2X, D2H, S200, D300, D700 ,D300s, D3, D3x D3s, in the Custom Menu. It is e1. This is factory defaulted to 1/250th of a second, which is the highest normal sync speed for flash. It needs to be set to 1/250 FP or 1/320 FP , which is the High Speed Sync mode. This will allow the camera to go above 1/250th of a second when there is a flash in the hot shoe of the camera. Once it is set, there is no need to turn off the FP High Sync Mode unless you do not want to use it.
The Nikon D90 has this Auto FP function as item e5 in its Custom Menu. Choices here are ON or OFF
We have been working with Will Crockett for many years. Recently Will produced a series of product selection and on location “sizzle” videos for us. Today I am taking a look at a couple of the first Qflash tutorials Will produced for us… they still hold up.
Lesson 5 in the series uses a reception hall table shot to demonstrate Qflash’s Bare Bulb in QTTL mode. This set-up allows you to get high quality results without a lot of fuss.
Allowing the bare bulb to bounce light off the ceiling enhances the ambient light and gives a nice even look to your image. It works really well under light colored ceilings when you can be 6-10 feet from your subjects.
The lesson ends with Will’s “Tips From A Pro,” including doing a Custom White Balance.
Take a quick look back at Lesson 4 for a great checklist of tips on the best camera settings for flash photography including, choosing an exposure mode, using spot metering and auto focus mode. Plus some discussion of the powerful Qflash infrared focus assist feature, and preparing your Custom White Balance before your shoot begins.
All of Will’s Quantum tutorials can be found on YouTUBE, Vimeo and on the Tutorials page at
TTL, Auto, and Auto-fill are all great tools in the right circumstance, but some situations can mislead sensors. Luckily, the Quantum Qflash, Trio, and Trio Basic are all designed to make setting your flash in Manual Mode as easy as possible.
Imagine you are out in a park, on an afternoon engagement session. Your happy couple specifically wants some photos in the gazebo they got engaged in, the very spot where they shared their first kiss… no pressure here.
It is a bright sunny day and the deck of the gazebo is under some heavy shadows. The bright background behind your couple can easily trick your sensors in TTL or Auto mode. It is time to go Manual.
Press the mode button on the back of your Trio or Qflash and use the +/- or arrow buttons to scroll through the modes. Press SET to select “Manual” mode. If you are using the flash with a Pilot or at the camera position with a TTL adapter, the Qflash will pick-up the F-stop and ISO setting from your camera. If you are using a sync cord or simple wireless trigger you will need to use the SET button and arrow buttons to adjust the F-stop and ISO settings to match your camera.
Press SET again and use the arrow buttons to adjust the power setting. Notice that the distance at the bottom of the display changes as you adjust the power from 1/64 to 1/1. When the distance matches the distance to your subjects you are ready to take a perfectly exposed shot.
There are a number of photographers over the years that have posed these two questions to us. “Why is the light falling off on the edges?” or “How come the Qflash is not covering all of the frame?”.
They notice this when they are photographing large families or groups at events and do not realize why it is happening. After finding out when it is occurring I can give them an answer to correct it. What is happening is that they have the large group of people arranged in a straight line and the ends of the groups are farther away from the flash than they are at the center of the group. This causes the ends to be darker or have ” light falloff”.
The answer is simple — curve the group at the ends, so it forms a shallow semi-circle. This brings all the people approaching the ends to be closer to the flash and therefore will get the same quantity of light as those in the center of the group.