Low light photography - 70th birthday party

I have two photography sessions booked this week. The first took place on Saturday night. This was a 70th birthday party for Ian, and the venue was the Phoenix Theatre in Blyth. I was taking mainly candid photographs as Ian was meeting and greeting people early on, and then after the buffet there was an exclusive stage show. The lighting conditions were very difficult, with two spotlights at stage level very close to the performers and coloured purple and green lights above. I took a few shots with my flash, a Canon 430EXII, but the ceiling was high and dark, and pointing the flash directly at the performers took all of the ambience from the image.

Fortunately I was trying out a hire lens, the Canon 85L 1.2 II, and I was able to shoot wide open without flash. I was at f1.2 or f1.4 for the whole show and managed to get some dramatic shots. I was impressed at how the lens managed to focus in the low light, and I loved the black and white conversions I got.

Phoenix Theatre Blyth - 70th birthday party

Phoenix Theatre Blyth - 70th birthday party

My second job is on Wednesday, a kids portrait session. I'll use the lens again then and see how it does in better light. Once I hand the lens back I have a decision to make. Do I buy primes or zooms to photograph my weddings and portraits? The zooms are more flexible, and can cover more focal lengths and can be used for other types of photography, but the primes are great in low light situations and their image quality is superior. Decisions, decisions...

In the meantime I hope Ian likes this teaser image!