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PIXelations 3

my first gig is coming up!

by fotofinish , 08-03-2005 at 08:33 AM (372 Views)

This Saturday morning will be my first photo gig! Although it is only volunteer work, a local, early American museum needed someone to take outdoor pictures on their grounds of mostly families building sun dials. This two hour session should have a lot of kids there. They only need a few pictures for their web site, so it will be a nice, low pressure start. The biggest pressure will come from me.

I figured that I would use my kit lens 18-55mm with lens hood. I was thinking I should also have my polarizer attached. I would also use my 580ex with Lightshere II as fill flash when needed. I’ll bring my 50mm in case there are any indoor shots needed, but I’ll leave my 100-400mm L in the car.

The emphasis should be on the making of the sun dials, the instruction process, expressions, and capturing a mix of both portraits and including as much of the historic house and grounds as possible. As some of my friends here on photozo suggested, I will try different perspectives, from low to high.

I have to remember to frame my shots properly. I often get caught up in the moment and forget about that. But as someone else suggested, I should be careful while concentrating on one shot that I don’t miss another shot around me. This will be hard for someone who has trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time! I would think aperture priority would work best and keep it around f8. But most of all, I have to remember to have fun! After all, this is the main reason I’m doing this, and also, with all my fancy equipment, it is a chance for me to give back some of my talents for the good of the community.

But wait, there’s more! I had already promised my sister that I would take pictures in the afternoon of my nephew’s Little League game. Phil is supposed to pitch in this regional final. It will be a big moment for him. He has done so well this season, too. We are all so proud of him.

This will be a chance for me to use my 100-400mm L. I’ll use my monopod for extra stability. Hopefully, I can get some shots of the ball leaving his hand, and his expressions. I’ll have to try different perspectives too, from behind home plate, from the stands, and perhaps from behind the outfield. The biggest problem will be the position of the sun. I’m not quite sure what to do if their faces are in shadow. I guess I would have to compensate by a stop or two and then hope I can make up for it in CS2.

All in all, Saturday should be my most ambitious photo experience to date!

gigs and gigs

by fotofinish , 08-08-2005 at 01:03 PM (350 Views)

Friday night, before my first official gig at a local colonial life museum house, I panicked. I only had enough memory in my camera for about 100 raw pictures. And since I wanted to shoot raw, this forced my hand to go out and buy a Lexar Pro 2-gig compact flash card which, because of its price and being last minute, I did not want to do at that point in time. But I bought it and now I would have enough space for about 300 pictures, more than enough to cover the two-hour museum event.

The morning of the sun dial-making class had low humidity and broken clouds. And although I was not getting paid since this was a volunteer event, I was going to get my chance to see if I would like doing “committed” work. When I arrived the instructor informed me that the class was to be conducted both indoors and outdoors. The indoor portion was held within a moderately sized nineteenth-century barn. It was very dark in there, in spite of the windows and track lighting. The outdoors portion was in front of the barn, adjacent to their colonial revival garden dating back to 1921. This took me by surprise since she had originally told me the class was outside. I felt my indoor skills needed work, so this news increased my anxiety levels.

But I had a ball! About twenty people attended, including children. The instructor was great. She began by giving an interesting lecture outside in front of the garden’s sun dial, outlining its history, purpose and design. She then brought everyone inside the barn to begin constructing the sundials using slate.

I did have my challenges, however. The barn doors were left open flooding the entrance with bright sunlight. Unfortunately one of the round tables was right at the opening, so the lighting would be difficult to handle. I did the best I could by shooting from different angles. I wandered from table to table taking the publicity pictures. I tried not to interfere with the instructor or with the attendees. I took shots over their shoulders, sometimes on my knees, and at other times I climbed up into the loft and shot from above, removing my Lightshere II diffuser to shoot straight on.

Another thing that took me by surprise was when the instructor announced that I was a photographer (doesn’t that sound great! ) taking publicity pictures, and that if someone did not want their picture taken, they were to raise their hand. Fortunately, no one did, since I had already taken a number of shots and it would have made it tougher to delete or crop out those pictures. The instructor said they did not want to have deal with having the person sign modeling papers. I wonder if that happens to other photographers. If you are reading this, let me know if this has happened to you.

I really put the 20D to work, sometimes in Program mode with diffuser, sometimes in manual with existing light. I decided not to use a polarizer filter since I wasn’t sure if I had to bounce between indoor and outdoors.

What went right: Using the diffuser with the camera in Program mode. This allowed me to be concerned solely with getting the right shot without having to deal with changing light conditions, etc. Another thing which worked was photographing children. There was one adorable little girl, about 4 or 5 years old, who played the “shy” routine with me and would not let me take her picture until she and I (actually all me) talked about the rabbits that were runing around the garden. After that she allowed me to take her picture!

What went wrong: Shooting in manual mode, existing light, where even at 800 iso my shutter sometimes was 1/15. Although I was pleasantly surprised that my handholding technique was good, the people moved in the shot, making for blurred, unusable pictures. Also, looking back now, I think that I looked like a “rookie”. I took 222 shots in the two hours I was there. It was a good thing I bought that other memory card, wasn’t it? At one point, a photographer (another volunteer who took picture for many years) from the Historical Society showed up at the end, took about five pictures and left. I have to wonder if what I did was overkill. I must say, though, after a while when I realized that I had enough keepers to satisfy the client, I was finally able to relax and start experimenting.

I will probably end up with about 60 pictures after I process each from raw. This also was a downside, since I would have to work hard and long to process all of the raw keepers in a short amount of time. I’m sure the client wants the pictures in a few days, although she did seem to care when I told her this. I’ll talk more her reaction about that in another Pixelation when I turn the pictures over to her. And I’ll post some pictures as well.

To Do: Practice indoor shots using available light, perhaps in shutter-priority. This should give me confidence in knowing what the 20D can do under these conditions and what I must do to handle the changing available light.

Looking back, I truly loved the experience. And I enjoyed this type of “committed” event. I guess that’s because it was a short amount of time, and the client said she’d be happy if she got one good picture to use on her website and for the newspaper. This took away a lot of the formal pressure to produce quality shoots with only a handful of pictures. Hopefully she’ll call me back. That then I guess would be the proof enough that I had succeeded!

Once this shoot was done, I then had to race to the other end of the state to shoot my nephew’s Little League state tournament game. This obviously was completely different than what I had just done that morning. But I’ll save that discussion here for another day.

When it rains, it pours!

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