Friday, June 18, 2010
Wedding Prep and Photographing my Own Kid
My daughter plays on a softball team called the Penguins. Her year end tournament is this Saturday but my wife and her will be there without me as I'm photographing a wedding. I have gone the whole season without taking any photos of her playing which is really unlike me, so last Wednesday I made sure to bring a camera. I decided that the Olympus E3 and 50-200 SWD lens would suit the event. Of course I had the battery grip on the camera so with that large lens it was a pretty obvious and frankly obnoxious camera. Hard to be subtle. I do like the battery grip though, it isn't just for looks. I find the buttons helpful when I quickly flip the camera to portrait orientation. The sun was shining in from right field pretty strongly so I decided to go and sit out past second base and photograph the kids batting and then when they were in the field I sat by the first base line. This kept the sun either behind me or to my side. The big camera drew one "now that is a serious camera" from one dad and of course several requests for photos of other people's kids. I was only too happy to oblige.
The E3's continuous autofocus is really bad. I've learned a long time ago that it is just better to use single autofocus and feather the button with sports. Thankfully these kids aren't exactly fast. In fact my kid spends most of her time on the infield diligently trying to eat her baseball glove (seen above). Aside from that rather annoying flaw in the camera, it performed beautifully and the lens is really a great one for outdoor sports. It blurs out the background nicely when fully zoomed and is a fast focuser.
Why my kid swings the bat with her eyes closed is a mystery to me. We had gone out and bought a bat and ball to practice, but to be completely honest we haven't found the time which I regret. To my surprise, despite swinging eyes closed she hits most of the pitches. I took photos of most of the kids at bat and most of them on the infield as well. About half the kids swing with their eyes closed. Never noticed until I looked at the photos. After the game I went home, imported all the photos into Lightroom 3 and made my selections of the best photos by flagging the good ones. I then cropped the keepers to 4x6 size as I knew that I was going to print them all that way (you can't trust the local lab here to auto crop anything well and I didn't feel like cropping forever at the kiosk). Then I exported them and put them on a CF card before running to the lab. Complete editing time of about 75 photos? About 20 minutes. Wish I could do a wedding that fast. My wife will be giving out the prints to the moms and dads tomorrow while I'm with my wedding. All the parents know I'm a photographer by trade and to me little goodwill things like this are not only nice to do, but help people to recommend you to their family and friends. "Hey, isn't he the guy that gave us those photos of little Joey at baseball??" A 40 cent print is a great business card. Not that I'm doing it for that sole purpose, I don't make a habit of turning friends into clients, but I am aware that the goodwill of your peers is helpful in a small community.
My daughter is also in ballet and jazz dancing, something she excels at somewhat more than baseball. I'm pretty sure she is in baseball to please me (I'm a big big Toronto Blue Jays fan) and to socialize with some of her friends, but dancing is really her thing. I took a couple of photos last weekend of her in our backyard just before going off to watch her year end dance show. About two months ago the dance studio called asking if I'd be interested in doing the photography for the year end show as they were parting ways with last years guy as his photos weren't that great (dark theatre, challenging environment to photograph in for either poor gear or poor technique). It was either going to be me or another dad that was a photographer. Now I have never heard of the other dad or seen his work. It might be great. For me though the first thing I thought of was "I don't want to work during the biggest event of my kid's year. I want to watch her and enjoy it." So I told them that if the other dad was keen that I'd be a very happy spectator. The show as great, I enjoyed just being a witness to my daughters special night and if the other dad's photos are any good I'll certainly buy some of them.
But before or during these events I always like to take some of my own photos for my own family memories. Frankly, a lot of the time the professional photos are really bad. I know for our official baseball photos the main photographer, a very successful one that does most sports locally, just pretty much fires off everything mechanically and with full on flash. They are fine, but not remarkable. Then again, he is good at what he does. Several hundred kids in one afternoon. We did the photos for a local swim club last weekend. It was the first time we were to do that type of thing, mass photography. I've said this in an earlier post, we took the time to do it right, and I'm glad we did. I received the prints by courier today, packaged them up and delivered them before I even had dinner. The club was thrilled to get them so quickly and after looking at the prints I was proud of the open loop lighting on each kid from our umbrella and the time we took to deliver high quality prints. The team photo was pretty so-so in my opinion. Going to improve on that next time. Ultimately though it only took me one hour to package and deliver the prints. Pays to be organized. I dropped a business card and a thank-you note in each envelope as well. Never know, might turn into a couple of portrait referrals. Never hurts to be hopeful right?
So we have another wedding tomorrow. I'm all packed up, traveling a little lighter than I did last wedding. I also picked up some little LED flashlights at Costco today that I put in my bag. I think I'm going to try and use them to light details like rings and possibly for a cool portrait idea I got from watching a David Ziser video today on Kelby Training. I have a subscription to Kelby Training that has been OK for me. I find it mostly useful for videos on Photoshop and Lightroom. I watched the videos on Lightroom 3 today to help me get up to speed on it. Still no answer to my problem with losing my photo ratings when I export to an external editor, but I'm working on fixing that. I also plan on watching the Photoshop CS5 videos this weekend if I can find the time as I've yet to try most of the new features. I find Kelby Training and their website to be good and useful, but it hasn't blown my mind. I'm pretty sure I won't renew my subscription when it expires. Most of the videos weren't of interest to me and the photography related ones were good, but not jaw dropping. For software I've learned that I prefer to have a book in front of me and for that the Kelby books are excellent. For photography learning I prefer hands on workshops to videos. We do have a subscription as well to Jerry Ghionis' site The Ice Society. I do find that incredibly inspiring and helpful. Jerry is one of our photography idols along with Yervant for wedding photography. Must be something in the Australian water.
Anyway, wish me luck on the wedding tomorrow. Now that this one is here we are pretty much booked crazy with weddings until the end of August.
Posted by Neil Gaudet at 8:40 PM