Sunday, August 6, 2017

Happy Fiftieth, Bill and Dee Dee!

1/25 of a second, F 5.6, ISO 1600, Cloudy White Balance.
Congratulations to Bill and Dee Dee! I was a man with a mission at my friends' 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration, and it was to make a suitable family photograph of the immediate and extended families. It took about six tries to get this photo, which was about the limit of the collective attentions spans. After all, their dinners were waiting.

Here are some tips for those who must photograph groups:
  • Obstructed View: I told my subjects to look down, and if they could not see my shoes, they would need to move either left or right so the camera could see everyone's face. If you look at the subjects at the camera's right, you'll what a difference this can make. In the future, I'm going to ask, in row order for everybody to look down, and it they see the back of somebody's head, adjust their position. In a perfect world, the second row would adjust based on the "heads" in the first row, and the third would do likewise in relation to the subjects in row #2.
  • Head Alignment: I've been told that it's better to NOT have the heads on a single line. With that in mind, I try to get the taller subjects in the back, and open gaps so that they can be easily seen. I have found this to be a worthy goal, but the larger the group, the harder it is do in a systematic way. For this shot, I made a few quick re-arrangements, ever mindful that the longer the process, the squirmier my youngest subjects will be.

Immediate Family: Just after I thanked everybody for their patience, Bill asked if I'd make a shot with just his immediate family, which I was glad to do. Since they were already in place, it was easy.
  • Young Subjects: When doing a series of shots, it's better to do the youngest subjects first, since they get fidgety sooner. Luckily, my little ones were still quite attentive.

Kids Being Kids: If I didn't already have my best shot "on the card", I would have cried if this was the best shot of the session. Since I had my keeper, I included this photo, which in my opinion is great shot of "kids being kids".

Did I Mention Dancing? Bill and Dee Dee are ballroom dancing instructors, and unsurprisingly, nearly all of their friends and dancers, too. When the music started, I photographed a number of couples in action. For this wide shot, I used ceiling bounce with the built in fill card. This gave me much more event "front to back" illumination, although it will require nearly full-power output from your speedlight for every shot. I actually overheated one of my SB-800s, forcing me to swap speedlights mid-session so that it could cool off. The technique worked well for wider shots.

When working at shorter distances, I stayed with the Gary Fong Light Sphere. It's flatter lighting, but more complimentary for nearly all faces due to its "size" and proximity to the lens axis. It wastes a lot of light in large venues like this, but it slam-dunk easy easy to use, and the results are almost always good, so long as you stay relatively close to your subject. One point I'd like to make in favor of the Cloud Dome - It's coverage is VERY wide, so you're less likely to have a falloff of light on the left and right edges.

I had a great time making these photos, and know that Bill and Dee Dee will be pleased with the family shot. As for the dancing, those were mostly for me.