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Archive 2012 · Children's Christmas Party (C&C)
  
 
no_surrender
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p.1 #1 · Children's Christmas Party (C&C)


First, thanks for the lighting suggestions I received in a different thread earlier this week. I wasn't able to practice or take any test shots so this was definitely a learning experience...one that I still need lots of practice to figure out.

I ended up using one medium sized SB with a grid to focus the light on the "Santa chair." I wanted the background (lit Christmas tree) to have that warm ambient look, which for the most part it did. The downfall was that the ambient light was so low, especially for small apertures (f/5.6-f/10), that my shutter speed was hanging around 0.8 - 1/10". Well, I couldn't bump up my strobe from the SB high enough to stop ghosting because it didn't blend well with the ambient light. I experimented and changed settings for about 2.5 hours during the party (before the shots with Santa) and just couldn't settle on anything. Long story short, most of the images are either blurry or have a decent amount of ghosting from motion blur.

I closed the blinds to prevent stray outdoor light from making the trees look brighter than they needed to be. Who knows if this was a mistake on my part The SB w/ grid was approximately 8 feet from the chair, raised up to about 6.5 feet and angled straight at the chair.

I haven't sent them yet so if you guys/gals see anything major that needs to be addressed that I might have missed, please let me know. One thing I should mention is that I shot these in "auto white balance" mode and decided against changing it to "fluorescent" because it made some of them look too cool. I do think for the most part they look a little too warm, but I can't do a global WB adjustment without messing some up and I really don't want to adjust by image because the WB will end up being all over the place.

Kevin

Edited on Dec 03, 2012 at 10:51 AM · View previous versions



Dec 01, 2012 at 12:01 PM
douter
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p.1 #2 · Children's Christmas Party (C&C)


Good documentation, looks like Santa's been on a diet!
Douglas



Dec 01, 2012 at 03:14 PM
no_surrender
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p.1 #3 · Children's Christmas Party (C&C)


Thanks, Douglas.


Dec 02, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Jonathan Huynh
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p.1 #4 · Children's Christmas Party (C&C)


Very nice documentation photography.


Dec 02, 2012 at 04:46 AM
no_surrender
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p.1 #5 · Children's Christmas Party (C&C)


Thanks, Jonathan. Does the ghosting/motion blur bother you?

I'm still contemplating adjusting the WB before I present these to the Orphanage. So far so good, but the lack of comments with 250+ views has me wondering if they're sub-par and keeping other FMers from leaving C&C...

Kevin



Dec 02, 2012 at 05:15 AM
Steady Hand
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p.1 #6 · Children's Christmas Party (C&C)


no_surrender wrote:
Thanks, Jonathan. Does the ghosting/motion blur bother you?

I'm still contemplating adjusting the WB before I present these to the Orphanage. So far so good, but the lack of comments with 250+ views has me wondering if they're sub-par and keeping other FMers from leaving C&C...

Kevin


Hi,

I see your photo post has had 250+ views and only one comment from viewers.

I know that can be disappointing and often discourages people from posting/participating in a forum like this.

So, I will post a comment or two and maybe that will get others to contribute their views too.

As with anything where a subjective view (opinion) is shared, there can be many views of the same issue or subject.
___________

I am reluctant to post this as you may take it as a personal dig. It is not. I am simply posting this to help you, and everything I write is written in a truly friendly tone of voice.

My comments or suggestions below are not a criticism of you, your model, your talent or skill. I offer them in a friendly tone of voice and with the sole intent to help you with a second POV and set of eyes. If you read sincere questions and simple suggestions as "criticism" of you, then you will miss how I am trying to help you.

Of course this may be your own "style" or your own "vision" and I suppose we can assume that the images look just like they do because that is exactly how you like them. That is OK too. It just shows that there are differences of "opinion" on what looks good. IF these are exactly what you want and like, then by all means continue making your images look like that and have fun doing it. I can only speak for myself and what I do or do not find appealing in the posted photos. As I always say: "Follow your own muse."
_____________
_____________

The photos posted are of poor to average photo quality, and this is especially evident because in this photo opportunity you should have control over the subjects (stationary seated and fixed distance) and the lighting (since you are using studio flash).

The ghosting images and blurry images are not what I would expect to see (if I thought I had a professional or skilled amateur or experienced photographer hired/selected for the photo event) and were disappointing to view because I thought you wanted to have a warm "atmosphere" shot of a decorated tree with santa and child. I suppose I expected something better, and perhaps your clients/orphanage contact will feel the same way.

That said, this is from the perspective of a photographer who has seen many photos taken in similar situation (santa photos), including those taken of me when I was a santa with kids on my knee one Christmas many years ago.

Of course the recipients of the photos may not care about the quality as much, or if the photos were given to them as a gift (no cost at all to the orphanage) then all may be happy with what they got. In other words, their expectations may be much lower than mine and so they may be happy with whatever is given to them.

Yesterday I saw a santa photo shoot at a horse show. The images were mediocre on camera flash photos (poor color, flashed look, no good expression on the child), but they were typical of a "snap shot" using flash. They did not show some of the faults shown in these images you posted.

You wrote: " I experimented and changed settings for about 2.5 hours during the party (before the shots with Santa) and just couldn't settle on anything. Long story short, most of the images are either blurry or have a decent amount of ghosting from motion blur.:"

The partially transparent kids and blurred photos are not good photos.

The photos you posted are showing obvious mistakes or lack of good lighting control.

I can only restate my previous suggestion I made in your earlier (pre-shoot) posting where you asked for advice on how to manage this shoot. My Simple Suggestion: Practice before the photo shoot.

While you wrote above that you did not have access to the location, it is surprising to me to see the photos looking as they do, and because you wrote above that you tried different settings for hours before the santa arrived, with unsatisfactory results, I can assume that is because you have not practiced enough (or learned enough on how to balance flash with ambient or to work with different light sources or mixed lighting, PRIOR to this photo shoot.
____________

I hope these comments help you.




Dec 02, 2012 at 07:05 AM
no_surrender
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p.1 #7 · Children's Christmas Party (C&C)


Steady, enlighten me...how could have I improved these? You're correct, I don't have much experience mixing ambient with flash.

Kevin



Dec 02, 2012 at 07:19 AM
 



no_surrender
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p.1 #8 · Children's Christmas Party (C&C)


As much as I hate to do this, I think I'm just going to omit the images with heavy ghosting. The gallery of 80 is now 61. Thanks.

BTW-Yes, this was all volunteer. No, I was not compensated for this in any way.

Kevin



Dec 02, 2012 at 07:44 AM
Steady Hand
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p.1 #9 · Children's Christmas Party (C&C)


no_surrender wrote:
As much as I hate to do this, I think I'm just going to omit the images with heavy ghosting. The gallery of 80 is now 61. Thanks.

BTW-Yes, this was all volunteer. No, I was not compensated for this in any way.

Kevin


Hello again.

You responded to my earlier comment by a short statement asking me to explain.

As far as explaining what is wrong with the photos, I think you can get that kind of help from anyone who is frank and honest and knows even a little about photography. Since others here on this forum were looking but not commenting on your photos, you may not get that advice here on this People forum. On the other hand, if you were to post these photos in the Lighting forum or the Wedding forum (or similar elsewhere) you may get more comments (or flamed).

As far as getting advice on what to do differently with your flash system and camera, I think you would be best advised to practice, AND since it seems, based on your own comments above, that you are not sure what to do, I suggest you find a local photographer who is skilled with flash and offer to pay them for a private workshop or tutoring or lesson.
_________________

As far as your response to "not show the photos," I think you probably misunderstand my message, so I will explain my POV below:

While I understand that that may be the natural response to some criticism, that is not what I suggest you do.

Why?

Because much of what we photographers look for is "improvement" or "excellence" in the image quality. Many photographers are self-critical. Some don't know what they are "not seeing" and some shoot pictures and get mixed results and are happy with those that seem to look OK or "within the norm" of what they see others make.

On the other hand, what most recipients of a free photo (print) look for is very different.

And, in any art medium there is something known as "happy accidents" that simply means that some accidents may yield appealing results.

In this case, some of the ghosted images may strike the kids as "cool" and they may like them because they do not look ordinary. In short, the kids may like those photos.

On the other hand, I would expect that some cultures around the world would not like seeing a partially transparent figure (or themselves) as this may have some negative meaning (for example, it may strike some cultures that the person is going to die or is not trustworthy, etc.).

So, I would be careful and first show some of the images to people from THAT culture AND people that are mature (or more inclined to know cultural taboos and superstitions), and ask THEM (not a online photographers forum) IF the ghostly figures will be seen in a negative way.

IF they respond (and that may be difficult to get an honest/frank response depending upon the culture and whether they are afraid of offending you) that the ghosts are "not good to show" then you know how to proceed.

So, in this case, I think it would be OK or natural to show those photos to the kids and your contacts at the orphanage, IF you first show them to someone mature FROM that culture who appreciates your work/gift but ALSO has some depth to be aware of how a ghostly image may be seen or interpreted by THEIR culture AND they give you FRANK/HONEST advice. .

_________________

I hope these comments and suggestions help you and others.

And, I posted this simply to help you with some answers or suggestions as I see it. Others will naturally see the issues and your work differently.





Dec 02, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Eyeball
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p.1 #10 · Children's Christmas Party (C&C)


no_surrender,

When mixing speedlights or strobes with ambient light, the ambient light is usually the constraining factor. It can be a constraint of little light (like indoors) or a lot of light (outdoors in daytime). It's not a bad approach to try to think about and address this constraint as one of your first steps.

In your case shooting indoors in fairly low light, you wanted to retain the feeling of the ambient lighting and just supplement that with the flash. If you think about that a little bit, you will find that your exposure (EV, combination of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO) really needs to be set pretty close to what you would use without the flash. If it is much lower than that, the ambient will go dark and you will just be left with what is exposed by the flash.

So once you have established the EV you need to keep the ambient at the level you want, you need to check for other constraints for the parameters that make up EV: shutter-speed, aperture, and ISO.

You want the shutter speed to stop any action or camera movement that may be visible in the ambient-illuminated parts of the image. That was your failing on some of your posted shots. You were using very slow shutter speeds (1/3 of a second, for example). 1/125 would have been about the slowest shutter speed you should have been using. (Note: much higher than 1/125 and you start running into flash sync speed problems unless your camera/flash combination supports Hypersync-like functionality. The good news is that since shutter-speed is therefore constrained both at the low- and high-ends, you don't have to think about it too much. )

You want an aperture that keeps everything important in focus. You used a pretty tight aperture on your shots but you probably could not have opened up too much more without completely blurring the background or, in the case of the close-ups, missing focus on moving kids.

If you have set shutter-speed and aperture and you're still not where you need to be then you're left with ISO. That is where you had some extra room on these shots that you weren't taking advantage of. You were shooting at ISO 250. With a 5D2, you would have been able to go easily to ISO 800 and probably even higher. Sure, you will start to get some noise but:
- people are probably not going to make wall murals out of these
- you can apply some noise reduction in post
- a little noise is usually going to be better than ghosting

So what do you do if you have adjusted shutter-speed, aperture, and ISO and you're still not where you need to be? Well, it's time for hard choices then. You can either sacrifice the ambient and just go with the flash or you can add additional lighting to create your own "ambient".

Besides the brightness balancing challenge between ambient and flash, you can also have a color temperature balancing challenge. This is another area where you were struggling. It looks like the ambient lighting was probably incandescent or perhaps warm florescents. Ideally under those conditions you would have gelled your flash with an orange filter ("CTO" or Color Temperature Orange, available in different strengths) so the flash color temperature was closer to the ambient. That would have helped prevent the subjects looking so white/blue against the orange-tinted background. You can correct this somewhat in post by painting or masking-in a color correction for either the subjects or the background but it takes time.

There are some good books and video tutorials available on this subject. There is also a lot of free stuff out there on YouTube and sites like Strobist for further study. As mentioned, practice is important so that it becomes second-nature.



Dec 02, 2012 at 06:04 PM
no_surrender
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p.1 #11 · Children's Christmas Party (C&C)


Steady Hand wrote:
Hello again.

You responded to my earlier comment by a short statement asking me to explain.

As far as explaining what is wrong with the photos, I think you can get that kind of help from anyone who is frank and honest and knows even a little about photography. Since others here on this forum were looking but not commenting on your photos, you may not get that advice here on this People forum. On the other hand, if you were to post these photos in the Lighting forum or the Wedding forum (or similar elsewhere) you may get more
...Show more

Thanks for the break down.

I'm already very self critical of my own photos and I never said these were good. Thanks for being honest enough to tell me they're not good photos. With that being said, I'm extremely reluctant to give any of them to the organization that I volunteered to shoot them for. To be honest, I'm utterly embarrassed at how they came out due to my lack of photographic knowledge. After all, there were a few other photographers there taking pictures, including a woman from the orphanage.

I agree I need LOTS of practice and to be mentored, but that's not really an option here. I'm very active in a lot of different things, but my heart is in photography so I shoot when I can and volunteer when there's an opportunity. Perhaps I should stop doing that.

I would love to have more free time and use it practicing and experimenting so I'll just have to find a way to make it fit.

Kevin



Dec 03, 2012 at 10:45 AM
no_surrender
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p.1 #12 · Children's Christmas Party (C&C)


Eyeball wrote:
no_surrender,

When mixing speedlights or strobes with ambient light, the ambient light is usually the constraining factor. It can be a constraint of little light (like indoors) or a lot of light (outdoors in daytime). It's not a bad approach to try to think about and address this constraint as one of your first steps.

In your case shooting indoors in fairly low light, you wanted to retain the feeling of the ambient lighting and just supplement that with the flash. If you think about that a little bit, you will find that your exposure (EV, combination of shutter speed, aperture, and
...Show more

Eyeball, thanks for taking the time to explain this to me. The best I can do at this point is learn from it and start experimenting using the advice you've given. Hopefully I'll be back to post something of better quality within the next few weeks.

Kevin



Dec 03, 2012 at 10:50 AM
no_surrender
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p.1 #13 · Children's Christmas Party (C&C)


Eyeball wrote:
There are some good books and video tutorials available on this subject. There is also a lot of free stuff out there on YouTube and sites like Strobist for further study. As mentioned, practice is important so that it becomes second-nature.


I've run across the Strobist before and could have sworn I read the "Lighting 101" section, but it looks different now. I didn't realize how many sections there were to it. Thanks for the suggestion. The majority of the tutorials I've watched recently have been from Flix and Phlearn, but many of them were directed towards using tools in LR or PS, not lighting. I'll start with reading the Strobist Blog, Lighting 101.

Kevin



Dec 04, 2012 at 11:44 AM
no_surrender
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p.1 #14 · Children's Christmas Party (C&C)


Steady Hand wrote:
As far as getting advice on what to do differently with your flash system and camera, I think you would be best advised to practice, AND since it seems, based on your own comments above, that you are not sure what to do, I suggest you find a local photographer who is skilled with flash and offer to pay them for a private workshop or tutoring or lesson.


I've been trying to navigate through your website...man, that thing is a monster! I've made my way to "Newbies Helped Here." Seems like a good place for me to start. I've scrolled down a few of the other pages where your site continuously states "free lessons and free tips," but I keep waiting to stumble on the catch where there's a fee of some sort. I seriously can't imagine you offering free mentorship, but as you stated earlier I obviously need it. I haven't looked locally since I'm in Korea so I'll have to make do with online tutorials, reading, C&C on FM, and practicing.

BTW, I do appreciate your honest critique. Yes, it's a hard pill to swallow at first because I really did try and am embarrassed I failed so miserably. And yes, I did post questions in the Lighting forum after posting here, before you first responded. I received some good advice there and words of encouragement not to give up.

I'm looking forward to learning more and hoping to get some quality time in practicing this weekend. One of these days you'll see some improvement out of me.

Kevin



Dec 04, 2012 at 11:50 AM





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