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Thread: Photographing at a Presentation Function advice re focusing

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    Stagecoach's Avatar
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    Photographing at a Presentation Function advice re focusing

    Hi all,

    I have been asked to take the photos at a function that involves 25 graduates from a leadership project in two days time basically because the group can not afford a proffesional photog and one of the participants knows I have a 'good' camera (yes, that's how some judge things). I have advised I am no proffesional and just a hobbyist and have not done anything like this before, but I am going to do my best to help them.

    My normal mode of photography and its subjects allows me to take time, experiment, take again and with no pressure as the results are for me only. I have read many articles over the past days on event/function photography and prepared myself well and feel generally confident accept for one area.

    Apart from candid, group and odd shots with little pressure there will be at some time a procession of the 25 graduates walking up to the podium indavidually, shaking hands and being presented with a certificate and they would like shots of this.

    My question is which is the best focus mode to use on the D300 for the handshake/certificate handover ? I normally tend to only use 'Manual' focus or 'Single Servo Dynamic Auto Focus 9 point'. I envisage being stood in one position and ready but how fast this is going to happen I do not know, hopefully slower than the recycle time on my SB600.

    For info, I intend to have the D300 set up in Manual, ISO 400/640, f5.6, 1/100th and with flash on bracket in TTL mode as a starting point.

    Any advice for focusing at this specific instant will be very much appreciated especially if relavant to the D300.

    Regards, Grahame

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    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing at a Presentation Function advice re focusing

    Quote Originally Posted by Stagecoach View Post
    Hi all,

    I have been asked to take the photos at a function that involves 25 graduates from a leadership project in two days time basically because the group can not afford a proffesional photog and one of the participants knows I have a 'good' camera (yes, that's how some judge things). I have advised I am no proffesional and just a hobbyist and have not done anything like this before, but I am going to do my best to help them.

    My normal mode of photography and its subjects allows me to take time, experiment, take again and with no pressure as the results are for me only. I have read many articles over the past days on event/function photography and prepared myself well and feel generally confident accept for one area.

    Apart from candid, group and odd shots with little pressure there will be at some time a procession of the 25 graduates walking up to the podium indavidually, shaking hands and being presented with a certificate and they would like shots of this.

    My question is which is the best focus mode to use on the D300 for the handshake/certificate handover ? I normally tend to only use 'Manual' focus or 'Single Servo Dynamic Auto Focus 9 point'. I envisage being stood in one position and ready but how fast this is going to happen I do not know, hopefully slower than the recycle time on my SB600.

    For info, I intend to have the D300 set up in Manual, ISO 400/640, f5.6, 1/100th and with flash on bracket in TTL mode as a starting point.

    Any advice for focusing at this specific instant will be very much appreciated especially if relavant to the D300.

    Regards, Grahame
    The first thing I would advise, especially if you don't know the venue, but even if you are familiar, is to try to do a recce. If possible with the interior lighting set up as it will be on the day.

    You will then be able to assess the venue, your settings, WB (I'll explain why I bring that up later), focal lengths based on where you'll be shooting etc

    Personally, I'd use AF-C, single point (in the middle or over the dean (or whatever the shaking hands man will be called)). Depending on the range and your f stop, you might well have sufficient DoF to ensure that the handshakee is equally in focus. That all depends on where you'll be standing and where the handshakers will be relative to you though. If you're far enough back you'll not have to worry so much about critical focusing. If you're there at f5.6 and 40mm then you'll have to be a bit more watchful.

    I'm using my AF-On button for focus only, with the shutter 1/2 press not affecting focus at all. So if my focus point is over the hand shaker there's no hunting or incorrect focus point selection made by the camera when the shutter's pressed. If my focus point is over the approaching soon to be handshakee then holding the thumb down will maintain focus as I'm in AF-C. It takes a little while to get used to but can be very beneficial during events as you have two focus modes at your finger and thumb tips without changing settings or modes. You can focus, release thumb, recompose and shoot or use an off centre cross point, hold thumb down and track while maintaining focus. However, unless you've practised and got it off pat I wouldn't advice you do that straight away!

    Now you are presumably doing this FOC, but what you should always consider is potential clients that you will be meeting and shooting. See if you can get some plain business cards printed up with your contact details.

    And WB - why did I mention that (as I normally just shoot RAW and Auto WB)?

    Well, a good idea if there is a reception or gathering after the ceremony would be to have a laptop out with your graduation hand shake photographs visible in a slideshow. It takes very little effort but will show your hobbyist yet professional quality credentials. Shooting RAW + jpg means you could switch out cards, showing your ceremonial jpgs as a slideshow while shooting your candids at the same time. Getting an accurate WB preset would be very useful if you'd consider this.

    Oh, and you're SB-600 will be fine! Take extra batteries though...

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    Stagecoach's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing at a Presentation Function advice re focusing

    Phil, thank you for your detailed and informative reply.

    I will certainly consider the AF-C with single point mode as you suggest.

    I am unable to do a recce beforehand so intend on arrival to check the focal length I will need for these shots then determine the DOF with my f stop to decide how critical my focus is going to have to be. My idea is to keep to a reasonably wide aperture to reduce and conserve flash power for these specific shots.

    Your method of use with the AF-ON button I understand but am not confident enough to try this yet.

    You are right that I'm doing this FOC but I'm not sure I would wish to promote myself to pursue this type of photography as a business venture. Fiji does not have a single camera shop, has a very unreliable postal service, extremely high humidity, ridiculous insurance costs so 'risks' are very high. I retired to Fiji a couple of years ago and my photographic 'hobby plan' was to pursue my macro work with the eventual intention of producing canvas prints for which I see a market here with no competition.

    As always I will be shooting in RAW + Jpeg with auto WB

    Once again Phil, thanks for your help.

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    Re: Photographing at a Presentation Function advice re focusing

    Just a couple of pointers I might use, even though you didn't ask, but I think you might find helpful:

    Go to the place where the event will take place and ask the multimedia peeps there if the lighting will be the same as the time when you're going there. At times, you will find that they will have several few more lights on, or maybe only the stage is lit, etc.

    Take someone with you if there isn't someone there already to mock-photograph them like if they were the recipient to see how the light is going to fall on them.

    Ask the person there how the people will be coming up to receive their certificate so you can get the best angle. If you're the designated photo person there, let the award nominees or recipients beforehand know to wait for you to take the picture.

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    Re: Photographing at a Presentation Function advice re focusing

    Miguel,

    From what I gather I will be the 'multimedia peep' for this occasion I am going to have to determine the lighting just before the event.

    I will make my first priority to take some test shots using a model/s where the cert handover takes place to confirm settings.

    Your suggestion to ask how the people will be coming up to determine the best angle and to let them know beforehand to wait for me to take the picture are now items 6 and 7 on my planning list. Seems so simple but I had not considered this, many thanks for this tip.

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    Re: Photographing at a Presentation Function advice re focusing

    A few of others....

    use a tripod

    diffuse the light if you can. If you don't have a small on-the-flash softbox then try and bounce the flash off of the ceiling.

    be on the same level. If they are on a stage get up there with them.

    take two shots, and tell them you are going to. Increases the odds of getting a good shot with all eyes open.

    watch your background for distractions.

    get close. For this type of photo you don't need legs. Just faces and handshakes.

    if close enough, consider a shutter of 1/200. The SB600 has the power and less chance of movement.
    Last edited by Andrew1; 6th November 2012 at 09:18 PM.

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    Re: Photographing at a Presentation Function advice re focusing

    Quote Originally Posted by Stagecoach View Post
    I am unable to do a recce beforehand so intend on arrival to check the focal length I will need for these shots then determine the DOF with my f stop to decide how critical my focus is going to have to be.
    You do not need to: the DoF will remain constant provided the Framing remains constant.

    So, if for example, you require Landscape Framed ‘Grip and Grin’, Half Shots (i.e. from the waist up) of TWO People – then that Framing is about 5’6” x 3’6” – the DoF will be about:

    F/4 - 2’
    F/5.6 – 3’
    F/8 – 4’6”
    etc


    ***


    Quote Originally Posted by Stagecoach View Post
    My idea is to keep to a reasonably wide aperture to reduce and conserve flash power for these specific shots.
    ISO Selection, will also control the Flash Output / Recycling Time.


    ***

    Typically I would use F/6.3 for the shots as I described, using an APS-C Camera - if I needed to conserve Flash Power, I would bump to ISO800 otherwise I'd typically use ISO400.

    I would use a White Bounce Card and Quick Release Camera Flash.

    If I were using a Flash Bracket (which I don't use often) then I want it moveable to get it 'above' for Portrait Orientation.

    However for ON Camera Flash, from your description of the task; you'd be very safe shooting all shots in Landscape Orientation.

    I would NOT use a tripod for 'grip and grin' awards photos – as it would be very restrictive and slightly (or considerably, depending) dangerous.


    WW
    Last edited by William W; 6th November 2012 at 10:53 PM.

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    Stagecoach's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing at a Presentation Function advice re focusing

    Andrew, thanks for the tips.

    I think a tripod would be too restrictive as there is little garantee that all participants when indavidually arriving at the point of cert handover are going to be in the same place. Fine for a single posed shot but when 25 people are involved I would not want to be holding things up having to re-position a tripod or be asking people to move into frame.

    I have a small softbox diffuser for the SB600 and may also consider bounce once ceiling height is known.

    Two shots would be great, my concern here is that it would be 50 flashes and I have no experience of using the SB600 this heavily in what could be a relatively short period.

    I'll certainly get level and also close as practical to conserve flash power and should also help in pushing up the speed and reducing ISO.

    Regards, Grahame

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    Stagecoach's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing at a Presentation Function advice re focusing

    Bill, thanks for your informative reply.

    It took me a while to grasp you advice regarding the DOF and the framing (which will stay approx constant). Basically meaning that the DOF will remain constant if I keep the same aperture when varying focal length to achieve the same frame area covered.

    Unfortunately I do not have a White Bounce Card (sold it years ago) so decided to use the flash bracket to get the flash off camera to avoid redeye as the next best option other than bounce. This will make things difficult for portrait shots so I may just put the flash on camera for these.

    Regards, Grahame

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    Re: Photographing at a Presentation Function advice re focusing

    Watch your white balance and get it right before hand. Indoor lighting can give off weird colour casts which can be hard to fix.

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    Re: Photographing at a Presentation Function advice re focusing

    Quote Originally Posted by dubaiphil View Post
    The first thing I would advise, especially if you don't know the venue, but even if you are familiar, is to try to do a recce. If possible with the interior lighting set up as it will be on the day.

    You will then be able to assess the venue, your settings, WB (I'll explain why I bring that up later), focal lengths based on where you'll be shooting etc

    Personally, I'd use AF-C, single point (in the middle or over the dean (or whatever the shaking hands man will be called)). Depending on the range and your f stop, you might well have sufficient DoF to ensure that the handshakee is equally in focus. That all depends on where you'll be standing and where the handshakers will be relative to you though. If you're far enough back you'll not have to worry so much about critical focusing. If you're there at f5.6 and 40mm then you'll have to be a bit more watchful.

    I'm using my AF-On button for focus only, with the shutter 1/2 press not affecting focus at all. So if my focus point is over the hand shaker there's no hunting or incorrect focus point selection made by the camera when the shutter's pressed. If my focus point is over the approaching soon to be handshakee then holding the thumb down will maintain focus as I'm in AF-C. It takes a little while to get used to but can be very beneficial during events as you have two focus modes at your finger and thumb tips without changing settings or modes. You can focus, release thumb, recompose and shoot or use an off centre cross point, hold thumb down and track while maintaining focus. However, unless you've practised and got it off pat I wouldn't advice you do that straight away!

    Now you are presumably doing this FOC, but what you should always consider is potential clients that you will be meeting and shooting. See if you can get some plain business cards printed up with your contact details.

    And WB - why did I mention that (as I normally just shoot RAW and Auto WB)?

    Well, a good idea if there is a reception or gathering after the ceremony would be to have a laptop out with your graduation hand shake photographs visible in a slideshow. It takes very little effort but will show your hobbyist yet professional quality credentials. Shooting RAW + jpg means you could switch out cards, showing your ceremonial jpgs as a slideshow while shooting your candids at the same time. Getting an accurate WB preset would be very useful if you'd consider this.

    Oh, and you're SB-600 will be fine! Take extra batteries though...
    Hello,

    I am new here and trying to learn better techniques..... I had a question about one of your comments where you mentioned using Auto WB, now i always thought that shooting in Manual mode you are always better by not having Auto WB......

    So according to you which is better Auto WB or manual WB?

  12. #12
    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing at a Presentation Function advice re focusing

    Quote Originally Posted by sabcoolin View Post
    Hello,

    I am new here and trying to learn better techniques..... I had a question about one of your comments where you mentioned using Auto WB, now i always thought that shooting in Manual mode you are always better by not having Auto WB......

    So according to you which is better Auto WB or manual WB?
    Generally I'm shooting in RAW so I don't care about White Balance. This is because when I am converting my RAW file to another format I can pick the colour temperature I want later.

    If I'm shooting with a flash and the flash is the main light then I'll mainly be shooting with a daylight/sunny WB (around 5000K) for consistency and to match my flash output. Again, I'm shooting RAW+jpeg so I can tweak if I'm slightly off.

    I'll sometimes use a 1/2 or 1/4 CTO gel on my lights to add a little warmth to what could otherwise be a cold image at 5000K with speedlights firing.

    So that's possibly confused you a whole lot more!

    If you're shooting jpeg files it is more important to get the white balance right in camera. With Lightroom you can adjust but you don't have the same levels of fine adjustment as with RAW.

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