Sunday, September 22, 2019

125th Birthday For San Mateo

The Shot I Was Sent To Get: The city of San Mateo turned 125 this week, and celebrated with three Thursday evenings of music, dance, and a proper homage to the Founding Fathers, and Mothers, of this wonderful city on the San Francisco Peninsula. Here Mayor Diane Papan (standing, center) along with some thespian Board Members, reenacted the early days of the city's creation. The stage skirt with its bright San Mateo banner, gave context to the photo, but inits inclusion forced a split composition and while adding some distracting text at the left and right side of the frame. Nevertheless, was exactly what the Editor In Chief wanted. And since the photo was made within the first ten minutes of the three-day celebration, I was free to make photos of the things I thought were interesting. These samples were taken from all three evenings, so if you're looking for continuity, you won't find any here.

Available Light: I appreciate the quality afforded the Fuji user when it comes to working with high ISO settings. Theoretically, its the lack of a low-pass filter is the reason. I much prefer the Fuji's performance to that of my older Nikon DSLRs. Working with the 50-140 2.8 Fuji lens, I was able to make some tight head shots from in front of, and behind, the stage.

In the above shot, the Mayor of San Mateo was working with a young San Mateo Trivia contestant. As an informal head shot, the composition has some desirable attributes. Both eyes are visible to the  camera and the mouth is not clipped by the microphone.

A less desirable shot can be seen at the right. Notice that the fingertips are clipped slightly. This wasn't the sign of poor cropping, but one of poor framing.  Since I couldn't get the composition adjusted in time, I would not normally include this image in a collection of favorite images. But it is a sample of an image that I would not normally submit for publication.
Shooting From Behind The  Stage: All during the three-day celebration, I wandered around the stage, trying to make a photo with more dramatic lighting. In both of these samples, the stage lighting provided both a rim light and a short lighting opportunities. In both cases you can see that the light skims over the near side of my subjects' faces, yet provides a splash of light on the ear. 

In these last two photos, I didn't correct for the obvious white balance mismatch. The effect gives the photo a more theatrical feel to the images. And by the way, these are shots you'll have to "chimp" to get the exposure where you want it.

Flash Augmentation In The Twilight Hour: I decided to practice mixing flash with the fading light of the late afternoon. Shooting in the twilight hour makes it much easier to balance ambient with flash, since the light levels are much lower. In the above shot, I held the flash at arm's length and aimed it directly at my main subjects. In the shot on the left, I purposely "skimmed" the light in an attempt to prevent severe overexposure of anything that was closer to me than my intended subject.  Here, I did my best to minimize the light hitting the headless dancer on the left of the frame. A minor amount of burning would bring the shirt to a brightness level closer to my main subject, the couple in the middle. As a technical matter, I was holding the camera about one foot off the ground, and held my flash high overhead using a short, 24" monopod.

In this shot, I re-framed the composition to place my female dance closer to the center and to include some of her "students" in the right side of the frame. Notice that the flash is just bright enough to cast a shadow beneath the chin of my Lady In Blue. I like the effect because it provides some subtle shaping of the facial features while providing some highlights I wouldn't be there if I relied on available light.

To avoid collisions, all of my shots were made for the edge of the designated dance floor. I decided to change things up and try for a shot that emphasized the dancers themselves. For this shot on the right I just "zoomed in", hoping to get a good facial expression on my dancer, something that would reflect the infectious mood the Salsa rhythms. Try as I did, I never got an expression of excitement  I was hoping for. 

I did manage to make a shot of this young lady learning how to waltz, and I was intrigued by her rapt expression. I don't exactly know what she was thinking at the time, but her partner appears to be a really lucky guy.