Friday, August 21, 2009

Photography 101

Tomorrow night I will be shooting an event. I haven't seen the location yet but I know it will be outdoors and starts at 7pm. The most important thing with any shoot is preparation. Even though I can't scout the location until one hour before the event, I can still prepare.

First, I visual what I think the event will be like. Thinking up different scenarios. What I want the pictures to look like. What will be shot...the raw photographs. And what I think I can do with them in photoshop for additional artistic flair.

Once I think it through, which I have been doing for the past several days, I decide what equipment I want to use and how my work flow will work at the location. I visualize myself taking all the pictures, when to change cameras, when I'm going to download etc. I try to leave no stone unturned. I want the shoot to run smoothly. If I have to stress while I'm shooting, it will show in the pictures. And the people at the event will pick up on my stressed energy. The only way to avoid that is preparation.

First I decied that I will shoot all digital with two Nikon D300 cameras. Then I decided to rent an extra lens. I was also thinking about an attached flash for when it gets too dark to shoot available light. There was a special device I heard could attach to my on-camera flash that would diffuse the light, so I decided to get that instead of a flash. When I got it, I found out it doesn' attaches to an attachable flash. Oops.

Next...test shots. Both cameras. It's important to test lighting situations and also test the equipment so I know everything is working properly. I shot 94 pictures (that's an advantage of extra cost for shooting lots of pictures). Following are 16 of them with comments. On the ones taken outside I used a Nikon 17-55mm 1:2.8 DX lens. The inside shots were with Nikon 50mm 1:1.4 lens. The flash ones are all with the on-camera flash.

I like the sharpness and detail with the flash.
Although it's not red-eye, I'm not crazy about the effect the flash has on the eyes.

Switched to monochrome in the camera. Same comments as above.

Messing with distance and exposure. These are all 250 shutter speed and around an 18 f-stop.

Why we need to test.
When I wide angle on the zoom, the on-camera flash creates a shadow of the lens.
Definitely need to get another flash before the event.

Same shot zoomed in.

Flash looks better when the eyes aren't facing the camera.

This shows me that if I shoot with a downward angle
the eyes looking into the camera look fine.

Without a flash I had to put the ISO from 200 up to 1600 and
shoot 1/15 sec shutter and 2.8 f-stop. I'm good with holding
the camera steady but I can't control the subject.

Too dark.
I need to get the natural light shots early in the evening, then switch to the flash.

Although I do like the look of the natural light.
But picture quality isn't as good.
But then again it can create a certain artistic quality.

These next two are interesting...

This one is without a flash. Way better than the flash shot below.

If I'm doing longer shots the flash will definitely be off.

I shot these inside shots just in case my client wants something done indoors. They would have the same comments as the outside shots of the dog. Except the natural light ones shot inside are much better than the outdoor ones and I like the look of them better than the flash shots.

What do these test shots tell me overall? I will likely shoot one camera with the flash and one with natural light. I will try to get most of the shots with both. I may forego the fixed lens and use a zoom on both cameras. If I have lots of time to cover everything I can switch off on the lens. I will also try and switch between b/w and color on both cameras. I don't think shooting in color and converting to b/w in photoshop gives me the same quality I get if I do it in the camera.

One more thought on why it's important to shoot tests...I was able to look at the shots in high resolution so I could check the quality of the pictures at full size. You can never trust what you see on the on-camera screen, even when you enlarge it for detail.

I will take my computer to the shoot so I can download as I shoot if needed...and I will also be able to do more test shots and check them at full size in the hour I have before the event starts.

I hope my photographer readers found this post helpful and the non-photographer readers weren't completely bored.

Also, thanks to Pumpkin for being such a cooperative model.

1 comment:

Jaimie said...

She's so beautiful and photogenic. I miss her soooo much. You must email me the originals. <3