I enjoy photographing events. It combines a lot of happy people in some of the worst lighting conditions I can imagine. Perhaps its the challenge. I recently photographed a charity event for Eva’s Initiatives called “Taste Matters” in the Liberty Grand at the Exhibition Grounds in Toronto.
This is the second year I have attended so I was a little more prepared for the poor light. As you can see from the photograph on the left, the ceiling is very high and dark, dark brown. No bouncing flash around this place, though I rarely like using flash at events as I feel it is very disruptive to the paying guests.
Although there are windows along the side, the evening event was primarily lit from chandeliers and some spot lights that rained down on the row of food and beverage donors lined along the side of the long hall. This became my prime shooting area and I was able to get behind the tables to face the patrons enjoying their evening.
I usually arrive early for an event, especially if I am not familiar with the location. I also like to capture the set up of the room and get pictures of the volunteers behind the scene that don’t always get the recognition they deserve. Not only did I get to photograph the set up, but I helped out, setting up tables and the silent auction. Always makes you feel good to help out. No pictures of me, though.
Did I mention the lighting was poor? I recently upgraded from CS4 to CS6 (Photoshop) so my confidence in noise reduction has increased. The difference is astounding. I shot mostly at ISO 3200 when using the f4 24-120mm lens and 1600 when I switched over to either my f2.8 105mm or the f1.4 50mm. I had my flash with me. There are usually speakers at these events and that is the one time no one really minds the flash going off. Almost expected. Lets me get some low ISO shots. Now if the speakers would only take a breath with their mouth closed I’d get more decent shots of them!
I didn’t take as many photographs as last year, but still took close to 1,000. The Nikon D300s has a low and a high setting for the “motor drive” so I use the slow setting in RAW to take a burst of shots. Working with slow shutter speeds in low light I hope that one of the burst I take will be sharp. It’s not sports photography, so I’ve never exceeded the buffer even in RAW. (When I shoot hockey, I switch to JPEG so I don’t exceed the buffer.)
Funny, this morning my wife reminded me how much I use to shy away from photographing people. I was commenting on my lack of panic for the wedding I’m shooting with my good friend Heather Pollock (see link on the right). Practice. Get out of your comfort zone. Volunteer to take pictures at local events (I’ve done community rallies) or a favourite charity. Take lots of pictures. Try different things so you can learn. And have fun.