Saturday, July 4, 2015

I Looked At Clouds That Way...

Photo #1
Happy Fourth of July! The Adult School celebrates the Fourth of July be creating a school-wide picnic that emphasizes games more than the food. Individual classrooms may choose to serve hot dogs and such, but the big gathering in all about having fun, as shown by these two competitors preparing for the Three Legged Race (Photo #1). Today I decided to make some quick photos using a fill technique that  I often use, and a lens which I've never used on a assignment.

The Equipment: By setup included the following:
  • Camera ISO: I set the camera (in this case a D600) to the lowest possible ISO setting, which in this case is equivalent to 100. 
  • Lens: An untried Nikon 20-35mm 2.8 AF zoom. A great lens when it was introduced in 1993 and a good lens today.
  • Filtration: I installed a 3-stop Neutral Density, just to see how my images would look with a shallow depth of field.
  • Speedlight: I used a Nikon SB-900 for its improved output over the SB-800. I didn't add a supplementary battery pack.
The Exposure: My starting point for flash supplemented outdoor photographs starts out with a few simple camera and flash adjustments
  • Shutter Priority Exposure Mode: I set the camera body to Shutter Priority and the Shutter speed to 1/200 of a second, the fastest flash synchronization speed I can use without slipping into Auto High Speed Synchronization.
  • Exposure Compensation, Camera: I set this to -1.0 stop. This would essentially underexpose my background.
  • Flash Compensation: This setting is a little squishy. I normally set it to -2/3 stop, and tweak it, up or down, as the situation requires.
  • Flash Beam Angle: The SB-900 is more adaptable to the FX (Full Frame) shooter. I set the beam angle to 35 degrees to concentrate the light in the center of the photo.
The Composition: The clouds were especially fetching that morning, so they became the background for most of the shots. Underexposure allows the subtle form of the clouds to appear, outlined by a slightly darkened blue sky.
Photo #2
Things Are Looking Up: I shot from a low angle to include the cloud-filled sky a a backdrop. You can see that the single stop of underexposure compensation darkens the sky, allowing the texture of the clouds to show through.

Had I not used some form of supplementary lighting, my foreground subject would also be underexposed. In Photo #2, you can see that the camera-mounted speed light is providing nearly all of the necessary lighting. Without the use of flash, his face would have been as dark as the shadow under his chin.
Photo #3
Moving Subjects: There are several ways to handle fast moving subjects. In this case, my subject would have to cross in front of the the orange pylon. By focusing on the pylon and waiting my subject to enter into the same plane of focus, I could get her in sharp focus without relying on the camera's auto-focus (Photo #3). 
Photo #4
Egg Racers: When it's safe to do so, I'll sometimes establish focus on a approaching subject a walk backwards as I photograph. This essentially keeps the subject-to-camera distance constant, allowing me to keep shooting without waiting to re-establish proper focus with each shot. It helps to use a small aperture so that depth of field will help you maintain foreground sharpness (Photo #4).

Be careful when you try this. I crashed into Cissie shortly after I made this photo.
Photo #5
Musical Chairs: The chairs are in a circle surrounding the flagpole. I made some quick photos with my back to the pole, but moved to the outside of the circle when the chairs were fewer in number. As always, everybody is relaxed and friendly (Photo #5). Then it got ugly.
Photo #6
The thrill of victory (Photo #6).
Photo #7
Aren't you going to let me have the chair? I'm a GIRL! (Photo #7)
Photo #8
Well that didn't work (Photo #8).
Photo #9
MY Chair! (Photo #9)
Photo #10
Or not... (Photo #10).
Photo #11
Last Woman Sitting! (Photo #11).

A bit of photo-fluff for the Fourth. Enjoy it safely!