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Thread: Tips & Techniques for my daughter's Formal?

  1. #1
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    Tips & Techniques for my daughter's Formal?

    My daughter has her Formal tonight, and we're all gathering at her boyfriend's family's house for drinks and to take some photos, at about 5:00pm. So it will be evening light at best, and on top of that, it's quite heavy cloud and quite grey and threatening at the moment as well, but there are the odd very short patches of sun but they probably won't last.
    I have only the 18-200, the 60D and the Speedlite.
    There'll probably be some shots in the garden if it's not raining, and probably some inside.
    Then around 6:30pm there will be some outdoor shots of her arriving in the Ambulance and being wheeled in on the stretcher, but by 6:30 it's probably going to be totally dark, with only the carpark lighting aside from the flash.

    Anything I need to know to try to make the results worthwhile?
    Any tips and techniques would be greatly appreciated.
    Things such as:
    Which metering mode?
    The camera is somewhat unreliable on centre point focus (appears to backfocus quite a bit), so where I can it will be manual or at best multipoint (still backfocusses), but not sure which of the focus modes might be the best to go with when not using manual. (the camera goes back tomorrow, I only delayed it as the Formal was coming up and worked on the premise that any camera is better than none).

    The dress is royal blue if that makes any difference, and she is generally quite pale, but hopefully make-up will have helped with that.

    I'll be shooting in RAW.

    Thanks for any help you can offer. Much appreciated.
    Last edited by Ezookiel; 08-12-2011 at 1:51pm.
    Canon EOS 60D ..... EFS 18-200mm f/3.5 - 5.6 IS - 430 EXII Speedlite - "eBay special" Remote Control Unit - Manfrotto 190XPROB w 804RC2 head.

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    G'day there,

    I do quite a bit of event photography though I have done one formal, so I'm speaking from that background, rather than a dedicated wedding/formal photographer background.

    My top tip isn't about technique or gear, but about your overall process. With events, you're trying to tell the story just as much (if not more) than just take photos of the people. So - what's the story you want to tell? They youngsters arriving, how excited they are, the various modes of transport... shoot to a strong concept - don't just take snapshots of the boys & girls.

    Playing to the strengths of your lens, the 18-200mm has a huge range of focal lengths, so you should be able to get portraits and scenes of the action with the one lens. However, it's not a very fast lens, and you'll be shooting in the evening, potentially with backlighting and then dimming light, so keep your speedlite on the camera the whole time. At 6:30 it won't be completely dark, but if your subjects are walking towards or into a venue, they will almost without exception be backlit, and you'll need to front fill with the flash. The speedlite will also provide you with focus assist which will help your camera to focus faster and more accurately. If you're indoors, using a diffuser or bouncing the flash off the ceiling is usually the way to go; and to do this well, set your camera to Tv (shutter priority) of 1/80s or faster to "freeze" your subjects and get sharp images as they're walking, moving, and mingling (of course you can switch off your flash and switch to Av anytime as appropriate).

    Good luck, hope your shoot goes well.
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    "arriving in the Ambulance and being wheeled in on the stretcher"

    umm, that doesnt sound too flash, hope she's OK

    I think the tip here is just stay within your safety zone and dont try anything too "out there"

    Use the camera's ETTL and stay safe
    Darren
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    Thanks for that.
    I like the idea of the 1/80 on Tv, that's probably the safest way to not end up with motion blur. I'm so new to it all, that I only really play with anything except auto, when I'm able to take lots of time and experiment, so I keep forgetting to use things like Tv and Av where I want some control. It will be a good opportunity to put some of those features to use actually.

    I'm not a tog for the event. I'm just a Dad wanting to get pics of his daughter. In fact the parents are pretty restricted as to the whole event. We can be there for the "arrivals" but after they all go into the venue, that's the end of any involvement the parents have. So the "mingling" shots will be only those around the arrivals area. I'm not sure if they have a tog for the event, but if they do, I'd be more than happy to get some shots off him/her to supplement any that I manage to fluke.

    Thanks for the help. It's much appreciated.

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    stick your ISO on 800 too

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    Awareness of the ambient light is just as important as getting the right settings for your flash. If the flash is the main source of light, 1/60th will be enough to freeze the action. 1/60th is the time your shutter is open, NOT the duration that your flash is illuminated. This is much shorter than 1/60th. The light freezes he movement when it is much stronger than the ambient. If the ambient is bright enough, it will blur your shot with too slow a shutter speed. You need to strike a balance between ambient and flash, especially when using TV or Av with high ISO and Canon gear.

    Isn't it a little late to be asking this question?

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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by camerasnoop View Post
    Isn't it a little late to be asking this question?
    I was thinking that, however because he did, I've learnt a couple of things.
    How did it go Ezookiel?
    "Enjoy what you can do rather than being frustrated at what you can't." bobt
    60D, Canon 28-105, Sigma 150-600S, Sigma 120-400, a speedlite, a tripod, a monopod, a remote release and a padded bag to carry things in.

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    My daughter is a volunteer with the St John Ambulance, so she's being taken to the event in one of their ambulances as her "Limo" for the arrival. Should create quite a stir. She's actually perfectly healthy. They even got granted permission to use the lights. Can't have the siren on, but the lights they can.

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    Came home and found that I hadn't hit send on that comment above, so it's a trifle late now.
    So far it went ok. Lots of sun still around, and what might be some reasonable shots.
    I'm about to pull them off the camera now, and see how much PP they need.

    Thanks again for the suggestions.

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    Barely begun to sort through them, but here's the outfit.



    And one with the boyfriend waiting at the Ambulance.



    Heavily cropped, and PP'ed and still nothing flash, but you get that when you're just learning.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ezookiel View Post
    Heavily cropped, and PP'ed and still nothing flash, but you get that when you're just learning.
    Au contraire:

    Your daughter is beautiful; the dress is wonderful; her shoes are elegant and the matching clutch bag has had time effort and thought put into the purchase, the earrings also; the Boyfriend is obviously taken with her and she has a Dad who took the time and effort to capture the moment with his best skills and efforts.

    I see very much “flash” captured in these two images.

    WW

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    technically fine, good colour, exposure and clarity.

    the composition could do with a bit of improvement, but hey, not too bad at all

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    From one beginner to another congrats they are lovely shots. I really like the second image. Your daughter is clearly the subject and if I was her I would be happy. The tough bit about this sight is we get to see amazing photography which is still not quite in our skill set yet, but I guess with practice we will get their. I think you managed to capture part of the story in the second image with the boy friend and the ambulance in the background.

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    I didn't like the composition much either, but at a stanger's house - first time we'd met the boy's family - the mum pretty much kept directing her boy and my daughter to places to stand so she could take photos, and I didn't feel at home enough to make suggestions, so just shot where she said. Once my confidence level increases, I'll probably feel free to suggest more changes. Only once did I have the courage to suggest that if they move a little to the right, they won't have the ducted heating vent coming out of their ears.
    One of them I now have to clone out the powerlines because they have those running in one ear and out the other because the Mum set them up on the front porch. I wish I'd spoken up on that one too.
    Thanks for the comments guys, there are SOOO many to still process, many that are probably better than those first two, but I thought I'd better put up something rather than leave you all wondering.

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