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Thu. Nov 8, 2012 by Mary    Pancake Sessions

Pancake Session: Shooting in a Tent

Good morning & Happy Pancake Day!!

Today's question comes from the lovely Emily Koska who asked the following on our Facebook page:

Hey J&M! I was curious how you two tackle capturing images during the reception when it is hosted in a tent. For some reason I am struggling. I'm having issues at night shooting inside the tent, with my images turning out 'flat'. Baah. I'm getting frustrated. Any suggestions or pointers? :)

That is such an awesome question Emily! The tents can tend to be a little more challenging (and result in flat images) in part just because of their shape, and the fact that when you bounce light up it tends to go up, fill the dome of the tent and then come back down flooding the room. And that "light coming in from everywhere" effect is what's giving you flat images because you aren't seeing the dimension that would be created from more directional/focused light.

The way that we've avoided this problem is twofold: the first is in the way we're bouncing when we are using on-camera flash, the second is just by turning to our trusty one-light set up.

When we're using our flash on-camera, we're still thinking about it and using it in a way that will result in directional (light that comes in across the subject either right to left or left to right) light. The way that we normally bounce our flashes when we're in a reception room to get this effect is with it pointed off to the side (either the right or the left) and then angled up about 45 degrees so that it hits the ceiling, and then comes back at that angle giving both beautiful directional light as well as a "Rembrandt" style drop down shadow on the subject. However. In the tents, we've found that if we're bouncing that high (at the 45 degree angle), what's happening is that the light is going up the sides of the tent and flooding the room too much. So now, we make it a point to consciously be bouncing off the edge of the tent (not the sides, still the roof, but just above where it meets the sides) so that the light remains more focused and comes back more directionally. That direction is what gives you dimension in the images, and avoids the flat, listless images.

That being said, one further step that you can take just so that you don't constantly have to be thinking about where you are in respect to the edge of the tent is to just go right to your one-light set up. By going right to the one light set up, now you know where it's always going to be positioned and where your light source is going to be coming all you have to do is to position yourself so that the stand is off to the side and coming in directionally (i.e. so that you're not positioning yourself either right in front of your light or having it in the background of your pictures).

Probably the thing that we love the most about the one-light set up is that it allows us to manufacture our own interesting, dynamic, dimensional light even in the flattest of situations. To see more ways that we use our one-light set up you can click HERE and to see what all you would need to get your own one light set up going, you can click HEREto see What's in our Bag.

I hope that helped & if anyone still has any questions, definitely feel free to leave them in the comments box below and we'll do our best to answer!

Also, if you're looking to learn more about understanding light, creating dimensional light, or using a one-light set up, you can check out the 5 HOUR live chat that we did last January. It regularly sells for $150, but today only when you use the code "blogreader" that will get you the download for just $99.

Happy Pancake Day!


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