Rick Paul: April 2010 Archives

Pushing it to the limit

Saguaro Shadows Photography recently volunteered to provide photographic coverage for a Middle School musical production. Originally the school asked us to provide cast photos for them to sell at the event. We also saw the opportunity to shoot during the rehearsals and performances. We knew we could provide much better images than family members could take under such conditions.

The lighting conditions were stressful for any camera. I doubt anything less than a D3/D3s/D700 could handle the extreme lighting conditions. Our initial setup was Auto ISO, with a minimum Shutter speed of 1/200 and Aperture Priority set at f/4 or f/5.6 most of the time. The lighting situation pretty much made this so the ISO was the only parameter varying. ISO was ranging from 500 clear to 3200, 5000, and even Hi2 at times.

The extreme contrast between light and dark made matrix metering totally unusable. Even with exposure compensation dialed in, the situation was constantly changing, and the matrix meter was often fooled. It wanted to make those black backgrounds of the set neutral gray, and was thus over exposing the actors by 2 stops or more. Since this was a real time, fast moving show, manual exposure was not a good option. Switching to Spot meter with a -0.7 compensation, and always metering on someone's face, rendered the best, consistent exposure results.

It was a pleasure to work with such talented young people, and a good chance for us to donate our services.

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Don't forget your own family!

Sometimes when shooting weddings and other families, we forget to capture memories of our own families! Saguaro Shadows Photography took the weekend off and used some of the time to capture some formal portraits of our own family:

One trick to making self-portraits easier is to not relay on the camera's self timer. This only gives you one take, and you need to keep getting up to reset the camera and take another shot.

Instead, I took advantage of the interval timer within Nikon's Capture Control Pro. By connecting the camera to my laptop and running Capture Control Pro, I was able to set the interval time to take any number of pictures I wanted with a set interval between them. I found that shooting 5 images 8 seconds apart worked well. Gave my family enough time to reset between shots, if they realized they blinked or were looking away.

We also used the time to capture just images of our daughters:

And an updated shot of just Margaret and I to use on our webpage and facebook site:

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Double Wedding Weekend!

Saguaro Shadows Photography had a double wedding weekend! This was shot over 3 days with 2 weddings, and 1 rehearsal that included a baby dedication:

Working two weddings in one weekend took a little advanced planning. We had to make sure we understood the timing and details for both weddings, and keep all the family names straight! We also had to plan out the equipment carefully. Before we left for the first event, we made sure we had a plan for recharging all of our batteries, and offloading images onto our computer storage system. It even made planning our off-hours correctly to make sure we were going to have enough time to rest between events, and eat so we could keep our energy up!

The wedding on Sunday was a particularly fun event to photograph. A lovely bride in a wonderful location with lots of photographic locations:

Shooting two weddings in 1 weekend definitely gave us a chance to reflect on how we were handling the shoot and look at some lessons learned. The primary lesson was we need to be more forward in communicating the shoot timeline for the wedding day not only to the bride and groom, but the whole wedding party. The rehearsal, which we usually attend, is the perfect opportunity to communicate this to everyone so we get the maximum cooperate on the wedding day.

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