Archive for the ‘shoots’ Category

It was my ultimate pleasure to be able to photograph pool players in action last weekend. Atlantic City, NJ was the host location for the APA South Jersey annual LTC (Cities) tournament. This is the qualifier for teams to play in the nationals in Las Vegas.

However, I am also a player so it was difficult to do both. Fatigue and concentration not withstanding. I needed to clone myself to be in more than one place at a time and grow another pair of arms.

As far as technique is concerned, you need to shoot with wide open aperture and without a flash. A flash would be very distracting in this situation.  I also used a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. Why? To remain unobtrusive to the player(s). A longer lens will allow you to photograph from a distance and not be in someone’s face. Most of the players had no idea that I had taken their image as they were playing. In using a longer lens, you would need to get your shutter speeds up or you might get camera shake and blurry images, so boost your ISO (the D700 is a low light champ for this) to get decent shutter speeds. Since the tournament area is pretty crowded, a wide open aperture lets more light in as well as blurring out some of the distracting background.

The tournament area was fairly dark, primarily lit by standard light fixtures over the tables. This is often a photographer’s worst nightmare when you can’t add in artificial light.  I decided that I would use it to my advantage because the light cast was more dramatic and not flat. I needed to combine my field of view with timing so that what little light provided would enhance the look and feel. The only issue I encountered was when people wore a lot of white and were directly under a light. Lightroom post processing with the Recovery slider took care of most of it. I burned the rest where needed.

Tricky but in the end, it was worth it for images that pop. I’m not going to Vegas, but I did get my shots.


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Just finished up shooting a local production of Guys & Dolls. The acting was great and singing amazing. It is my favorite musical so I do know how it should sound.

Shooting under these kinds of conditions is difficult. It’s low light with fast motion. Flash is normally prohibited so you’ve got to use settings that allow you to get the capture since you cannot add in light from an external source.  That translates into shooting wide open with an aperture of f/2.8 or larger using a fast lens. It also means boosting your light sensitivity or ISO up to bring up your shutter speeds. A longer lens is also needed so stabilization to avoid camera shake means Image Stabilization or VR in Nikon speak for Vibration Reduction. A 70-200mm f/2.8 was used since it is less intrusive in working distance.

Here’s a shot from the Rockin’ the Boat scene. Congratulations to all the actors for an amazing performance.

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Run & Gun

Run & Gun isn’t especially evocative of professional shooting. For some reason, it brings snapshots to mind and casually pointing your camera at something that you happened to pass by. I can assure you —  it takes a fair amount of skill to get this kind of shooting to turn out.

This type of shooting is ideal for multiple speedlights. It’s on location and you will get a variety of shots. More than a static set up with studio strobes. There isn’t enough space in tight areas to drag in studio strobes. Plus, you get 10 minutes to do the shot. In tight areas, there may only be one angle to take the shot and shadow casts are on walls. Angling a shoot through umbrella downward will help get those shadow casts to fall to the ground out of the frame.

I took photos of some prominent position people, everyday people, headshots, working candids, working posed shots in all contexts and settings. Here’s a few.

For this one above, I used a shallow depth of field to blur out the distracting brochures in the background. Three Nikon speedlights were used to shoot everything. Sometimes I used modifiers like a Lightsphere or two, sometimes bounced lighting off walls and ceilings. If the walls were green (some were), I’d use a modifier or ceiling to bounce. Green would find its way into your scene as reflected light and add an unwanted color cast if you bounced it off a green wall.

I had lots of help. I enlisted people to hold my speedlights, but I also found it convenient to use a collapsible light stand and Westcott 43″ folding umbrella as one of the modifiers. It diffused the light better than just bouncing it.

Can’t say enough good things about the Westcott collapsible umbrella. It fits right into my backpack and is a shoot through umbrella.The stand I use is only 22″ I can carry in one hand. It extends to 8′ in height when opened.

Three speedlights were ideal to handle almost any condition within the locations.

If you’re putting together a speedlight kit, consider the weight and size of your load. Compact and simple to set up items are the mainstay of this type of shooting.

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Adding Interest

I do come from a design background so it’s important to take the entire frame for all elements under consideration when looking at images or framing. A designer is going to account for type/text on the page, balance, white space or negative space, color… the list goes on. Elements interact with each other for “balance” within the boundaries of the medium whether it be a page edge on print material or a web page that exists only in the electronic media. No secret that this exists in photography. Color, tone, angle dynamics and the scenario are taken into account. Is there emotive content that you’d like to show?

A recent shoot had me looking to find the elements. It was a busy scenario shot live and without formal posing. It’s better to sight things through the lens or easy to miss the moment. Sometimes, there were 10 people in the scene with a flurry of activity.


As with an event, you’d want your image to tell a story but sometimes it’s just too busy and distracting. You sight the scene as an observer but are you really looking at a part that would suffice to tell the story? The scene above has 7 people in it. Yet, what happens if you had cropped it in your framing?

_crop4316-EditAsk yourself if you had would it tell the story in much simpler fashion? Or would it be telling one aspect of the story that you saw as the photographer? Is it more dynamic where less is more? Sometimes, the mere suggestion of a piece will be enough to get the message across. The best of all worlds is to shoot both. However, as the photographer you have a choice to simply be an observer or to tell the audience what you see and how you think when you press the shutter.

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I was doing some homework on the Radiopopper Jr.X and stumbled onto info on the Strobist blog about them. Good info, btw. I thought that I recognized “Dasha” one of the models that came to pose for us at the Mid Atlantic meetup in early August.



Not too surprising considering that the shoot was in Maryland and that’s David Hobby’s stomping grounds. Dasha was a great model too. Very cooperative and willing to work hard.

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Bogged Down

From inside speedlight shooting to outdoor shooting this week. Despite an early morning start, it’s still a little bit on the dark side this time of year. I use fill flash a lot when shooting outdoors to lift shadow areas and bring out some detail in the darks.

I was fortunate enough to get in to shoot at the largest cranberry producer in NJ.  The weather was cooperative and I slogged though a lot of mud! NJ is 3rd in cranberry production in the U.S. behind Massachusetts and Wisconsin. Some of the bogs here go back 100 years. Technology and harvesting has been honed up to the present. Rutgers U. has been working closely with some of the growers to boost yield and produce the best fruit. Wet harvesting by flooding the bogs has been a standard for years.

looking out

thrashers work the bog

berries fly

on the truck

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I had the pleasure of shooting a 25th wedding anniversary party this past weekend. It was fun as always. I like being among people. I have been so busy that I wasn’t able to put the Radiopopper JrX units into use. No time like the present. As a backup, I did take my Nikon SU800 transmitter unit with me to control the speedlights wirelessly, but it got really cranky. I ended up using the Jr.X units anyway. I normally use Nikon’s CLS on Manual to control my remotes.

I used 3 SB800’s to do the job. Two on lightstands—no diffusion but bounced light. One handheld with a Lightsphere on it. Two of the SB800’s were set to Manual. The 3rd was set to SU Mode-Manual (optical) since I didn’t have a dedicated transmitter for that light.

You can’t yet control the Jr.X standard units (receivers and transmitter) wirelessly for power dialing remotely (Studio model differs). For that, you will need the RPcube and it’s not out yet! Grrrrr. I was fortunate enough to guess most of my settings and shot everything on full manual on both speedlights and camera body. One thing I will note, I had set the white balance to Auto on the body but it was bluish. Things warmed up more when I set it to Flash, albeit a little too warm in some cases. I’m still exploring my options and learning what they will do for me when I need them.

A few shots from the party.




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